The worldwide popularity of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s design vision comes partially from the risks he takes—exemplified by the wardrobe he created for Marilyn Manson and for Madonna’s Blond Ambition and Confessions world tours, including her infamous conical bra. In addition, he popularized the use of skirts for men, particularly kilts, and shocked fashion traditionalists by playing with gender roles and body image in his fashion shows.
In addition to fashion design and costume design—the latter including collaborations with film directors Peter Greenaway, Pedro Almodóvar, and Luc Besson—Gaultier has taken a strong public stand in the fight against HIV/AIDS. 1987 saw an early fund raiser with the Jean-Paul Gaultier Look-Alike Contest, featuring downtown performance artist John Sex and punk queen Edwige Belmore at the Palladium. Then in 1992, he raised more than $700,000.00 for amfAR with the Jean-Paul Gaultier in L.A. fashion show, chaired by Madonna and Herb Ritts, and he has also staged fashion shows at other AIDS fundraisers, among them the AIDS Life Association’s Life Ball in Vienna. He was one of the original contributors to Red Hot + Blue, an innovative project that raises funds for AIDS charities, and he has generously donated fashion in support of a wide range of AIDS nonprofits.
In 1987 Gaultier saw Edwige Belmore at Le Palace in Paris and asked her to be in his new show. Edwige later reflected upon this experience: “It was crazy! We were all street kids and we were taking drugs and drinking champagne to calm our nerves before we got on the runway because we were not models. In the show’s finale, I’m wearing high heels, black stockings with a big tuxedo jacket with marabou feather. I was supposed to sing ‘My Way,’ the Sid Vicious version. But I was so gone. I got on the runway and a little close to the edge and the music started, and some god put me back on my balance because I literally had one foot outside the runway.”
G.E.Work by Jean-Paul Gaultier