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Haute Couture is at the top of the fashion world

It is what we see created in the houses of Chanel, Dior, LaCroix, Valentino, and of course, Gaultier, only to name a few. Haute Couture is a form of artistry and it began as strictly custom-made garments. In fact, before the 1950’s the items were hand-stitched. However, as the industry progressed, the stitch sewing machine came along and a dress maker named Charles Frederick Worth. With the inspiration of Worth’s pieces, “high” fashion had begun.

Jean Paul Gaultier defines the run way term. At age 13, he had designed his first collection for his mother and grandmother. At the young age of 17, Gaultier sent his designs to the infamous Paris designer, Pierre Cardin. Cardin took him in and Gaultier grew from then on only to have his work showcased in French fashion magazines and soon picked up by a Japanese clothing conglomerate.

“Haute Couture” can only be used for a very prestigious list of design houses that are approved each year

Although many have argued that Haute Couture has become mass merchandise with many of the designers creating replicas of their pieces in Ready-to-Wear fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier certainly does not give into this assumption. His runway designs are considered an art form, rather than a “business” and his design house is protected by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris which states by law that the term, “Haute Couture” can only be used for a very prestigious list of design houses that are approved each year. Gaultier has brought to the fashion world a unique sense of imagination. This can be seen in his array of unusual models he has used for his collections. They have ranged from full-figured to heavily tattooed and pierced.  His work can truly be considered an art form as it is the main focus of the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art “Bravehearts- Men in Skirts”. Gaultier's inspirations are endless and he certainly knows how to use them in his clothing.

Gaultier’s work recently appeared at the Haute Couture Spring Fashion Week in Paris. To understand this collection, one must really be able to acquire an appreciation for the art. If you simply can’t see past the strange shapes and extremity, you aren’t alone, after all he did create Madonna’s gold cone-shaped bra. I don’t think I ever understood that decision. The spring collection was a mixture of a Mexican Fiesta complete with sombrero’s and Aztec/Avatar inspired suits and dresses. While the latter exhibited female warriors in strange, but somewhat intriguing and compelling, powerful outfits, there seems to be a missing correlation between that and a day in the sun in good ol’ Mexico.

Many of the outfits were paired with palm leaves and exotic foray and the detail was brilliant, but there didn’t appear to be a connection between power and exoticism, unless of course, he is trying to push forth the mass idea of a woman  just not as a strong and successful warrior, but also sexy and alluring (as if women aren’t already burdened with that expectation).The models appear to be from the Avatar movie themselves which although it goes along with the theme quite nicely; is a little scary to look at up close. The overall collection is compelling and mind boggling all at the same time. I can’t seem to appreciate Gaultier’s obvious complex thinking behind it, but I can most certainly admire the art.

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designer Jean Paul Gaultier

images Jean Paul Gaultier

fashion writer Meghan Holliday

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