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7 THINGS JEAN PAUL GAULTIER TAUGHT US ABOUT FASHION

Following his last ever ready-to-wear show this PFW (sob), we chart the lessons that the legendary Jean Paul Gaultier has taught us about fashion…

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Globally renowned as the enfant terrible of the fashion world, last month Jean Paul Gaultier took his final bow as a ready-to-wear designer in order to focus instead on his haute couture, fragrance and accessories lines. To mark this “end of an era”, we’re taking you on a guided tour of the designer’s theatrical, extravagant and (more than a little bit) bonkers Spring/Summer 2015 Paris Fashion Week show to highlight exactly why the playful designer will be so sorely missed.

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Enjoy your moment(s) in the spotlight

Having begun his career as a Eurotrash presenter (remember THAT?!), it’s safe to say that Jean Paul Gaultier has never been one to shy away from the limelight that surrounds him. And, of course, his SS15 show was a testimony to that… The streets around Le Grand Rex cinema where the show was staged were completely gridlocked with fashion heavyweights, street style stars and gatecrashers alike. The spectacle continued inside, where the foyer was complete with a concession stand serving up popcorn and champagne before showgoers settled down to see the designer’s final show: the ‘Election de Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015’.

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Celebrity sells

Jean Paul Gaultier has had everyone from Madonna and Dita Von Teese to Conchita Wurst on his runway. True to form, the crowd at his final show was like a Who’s Who of the fashion industry, with Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott, Gareth Pugh and Alexander Wang all cheering their design peer on from the sidelines. The catwalk also had some familiar faces strutting their stuff, with the ‘Miss Rédactrice du Mode’ section of the show featuring models dressed up as iconic Fashion Editors ranging from Franca Sozzani, Emmanuelle Alt and Carine Roitfeld to Grace Coddington and Suzy Menkes.

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A catwalk show should be just that: a show  

Whether it be a topless Madonna in 1992, puppets instead of models in 2004 or the Amy Winehouse tribute show in 2008, the designer certainly knows how to make people look. This year was – naturally – no different, and when the time came to pick Jean Paul Gaultier’s pageant winner, the competition came down to two models wearing his iconic cone bra dresses (what else?). Although Coco Rocha was technically crowned the winner, Anna Cleveland promptly yanked the crown for herself when Rocha ‘fainted’ with excitement. Miss Congeniality eat your heart out.

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How to make androgyny chic…

The ‘Miss Smoking’ portion of Jean Paul Gaultier’s SS15 collection referenced the designer’s exquisite tailoring and gender bending silhouettes. Trust me, when you can turn a double-breasted blazer into a convincing cocktail dress then you’ve really made it as a fashion designer.

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But also how to embrace your femininity

The conical bra and basques that Jean Paul Gaultier made for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour in the nineties are arguably what catapulted the designer to international stardom. The celebration of the feminine form is something that has become somewhat synonymous with the designer, even filtering through to the shape of his ‘Classique’ perfume bottle. So it was only natural that this chapter in his fashion life was also explored in his final ‘greatest hits’ show too.

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Defy convention

It might be quicker to list the things that Jean Paul Gaultier hasn’t done in order to both shock and amaze the fashion world! But from presenting a collection entitled ‘Chic Rabbis’ (no, really) to using androgynous model Andrej Pejic as a haute couture bridal model, the designer has always revelled in controversy. For SS15, his final debunking of ready-to-wear runway conventions saw older glamour pusses taking to the catwalk with bare-chested male models. Ooh la la!

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Don’t take yourself too seriously

But, most importantly (don’t you just love a happy ending?) the designer taught an industry that all too often takes itself too seriously to remember to put the fun back into fashion.  So as the golden confetti fell upon the dancing models, the designer ran on to take his final ready-to-wear bow wearing his very own beauty pageant sash, before going off stage to rapturous applause… Smiling like he always has done.

Words: Samantha Southern.

7 THINGS JEAN PAUL GAULTIER TAUGHT US ABOUT FASHION

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