By Catarina Figueiredo Soares

Full on, larger than life, iconic, Jean Paul Gaultier is the real deal. The French designer strove, throughout his career to redefine social categories and cross boundaries in is native country; one with fashion standards that were quite conservative By the age of 13 years old, he had already created a clothing collection for his grandmother and mother. At only 18 years old, he started an apprenticeship in the house of the Parisian designer Pierre Cardin . Discover 10 facts about this larger than life character and his latest fragrance, here in Iconic.

Jean Paul Gaultier is considered one of the best fashion designers from Paris. He became known as the ‘bad boy’ of French fashion over the course of his career. As a successful designer he created stage costumes for Madonna, that gave him international recognition. Known from this for his lingerie inspired designs. He was always passionate about fashion and his catwalk shows did not only display his collections, but they were pure showtime extravagances. He challenged fashion standards but also pushed gender norms. 

So just in case you are not familiar with him here are ten facts to explore.

Legendary music performance outfit

Gaultier was the legend that created the conical bra that Madonna used in her Blond Ambition Tour in the 90s. In fact, he designed over 300 costumes for the tour and later got asked by many artists to dress them, including musicians such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Fergie, and Marilyn Manson. 

L’enfant terrible

The bad boy of fashion was the nickname of this designer. He earned this name due to his provocative and standard challenging collections. Always going against the flow, Gaultier has made legendary pieces and he is one of a kind. He also utilised things like Kilts for men which had never been seen up until that point on catwalks as staple fashion items. As well as that he could often be seen out in the 1980’s in the underground club scene in London.

‘I don’t think I was ever concerned with shocking people. Was I conscious of the fact that it could be shocking? Yes. But I just wanted to show what I found fair or normal or beautiful. If anything, I was the one who was shocked, by certain kinds of intolerance.’

Film costumes

Did you know that Gaultier got inspiration to be a fashion designer from a film? The designer was requested to be involved in many different creative projects and costumes for films was one of them. Costumes have a big importance for the film in question, they define the atmosphere of the movie and give personality to the character. The most celebrated ones were the bodysuit for the movie ‘The Skin I Live In’ by Pedro Almodovar and the bandage bodysuit for ‘The Fifth Element’ by Luc Besson.

TV co-presenter

Ever seen the Eurotrash (1993-1997) television show? Jean Paul Gaultier was the co-presenter of the magazine-format show that focused on the wonderful and weird from around the world. The most shocking show of the 90s was full of sauciness, sex, and totally dreadful things. The late-night comical show has more than 160 episodes and is worth a watch if you are feeling like laughing at peculiar things.

Out-of-the-box runway

It is clear that Gaultier was a person that didn’t conform with the norms and rules. He was also a ‘rebel’ with his castings for the runway shows. Having models of different ages, sizes and races was natural for him, long before anyone talked of diversity. Distinct from the usual, some of his models were picked by him on the streets. A show of his for example, featured a pregnant women, pierced, and tattooed models and even a model with dwarfism.

‘Beautiful sexy women with curves, ethnic women, androgynous women. I don’t want to have just one specific image of a woman in my shows, I want to present what really exists. And the same for men. I also like to show attitude.’

Bad boy in Hermès

The traditional and elegant fashion house from Paris Hermes was opened in 1837. In 2003 Gaultier was appointed head designer. His first collection with Hermès came to life in the fall 2004. It is surprising that the provocative designer would work for such a traditional fashion house, but he did so until 2010. Look closely and see a skirt designed for Hermes by Gaultier is actually the same overall shape as the kilts he created for his own label.

From clothes to soda

Following the steps of other magnificent designers, Jean Paul Gaultier was the creative director for Diet Coke in 2012. He was responsible for creative input in advertising campaigns, design of limited-edition bottles and retail events. 


The iconic designer was happy to make his designs and ethos accessible to more consumers. He collaborated with the United States retail giant, Target, to provide quality fashion at entry-level prices. Gaultier also collaborated with Mercedes and designed a Mercedes-Benz SL-Class car with his signature blue strips of the sailor shirts he so often wore and became iconic on his first mens fragrance. This car was also autographed by him and actioned for charity.

Life on display

Fashion Freak Show is Gaultier’s show that is personal and insightful about his creative universe. In 2018 the designer returned to his love for theatre and stagged this show at Folies Bergere theatre in Paris. Just like Jean Paul, this show is provocative, scandalous, eccentric, and funny. Larger than life, the designer takes us into his world filled with magic, excess and poetry.

Worth Gold

Ever imagined having your name on gold? Jean Paul Gaultier already did. The fashion icon made 5 000 one-off gold bars. These gold bars feature a heart with the signature sailor stripes and a banner that reads his name at the top. Putting his name in fashion’s history, there is very little this legend hasn’t done. 

After finding out what iconic Jean Paul Gaultier did that may be you weren’t aware of there are also some newer perfumes that you may not know about.

Starting with La Belle is an addictive and seductive fragrance which originally came out in 2019. With notes of bergamot, green pear and vanilla pod this EDP is for an attractive and ultra-feminine woman. The bottle is just mesmerising with a gold flower necklace. Temptation and attraction, created as a way to explore what makes you feel attractive and to be able to glow.

Now there is a new limited edition inspired by the original La Belle; a dive deep into a wonder of a fresh floral bouquet. This fragrance is sensual and creamy with notes of iris accompanied by vanilla. The bottle is just luscious and La Belle Fleur Terrible flaunts confidence and self-love. The floral necklace imprinted into the bottle is inspired by jean Paul Gaultier headdress from 2020. A carnal and somewhat aquatic fragrance comes inside a tin depicting a multi-coloured oriental garden. Temptation at its peak, embrace yourself, love yourself, dive in.

To find out more about this range of Jean Paul Gaultier perfumes click here.

If you enjoyed reading Iconic, why not check out Summer Feeling?

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