Jean Paul Gaultier
"I don't know exactly what is my impact, but I can say I am doing fashion my own way."
France's 'enfant terrible' has no formal training. His fashion career began by Gaultier sending sketches to many successful designers. Pierre Cardin hired Gaultier as his assistant in 1970 based on one such sketch. This independent approach has worked well for Gaultier. His iconic look took off in 1991 and Gaultier has since signed contracts to design many stage outfits including Madonna's famous cone bra and the Blond Ambition and Confession tours along with ensembles for Kylie Minogue, Marilyn Manson and the late Hong Kong sensation Leslie Cheung. His film credits include: Luc Besson's The Fifth Element, Pedro Almodóvar's Kika, Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's La Cité des Enfants Perdus.
This collection of celebrity fans and film credits is no surprise as Gaultier is known for his somewhat irreverent style. In his shows as well as his fashions, Gaulter has a playful touch, manipulating gender roles and using less conventional models -- older men, full-figured woman, and heavily pierced or tattoed models.
Gaultier's pursuit of fashion his way has brought critical as well as financial success. Gaultier's greatest success stems from the creation of his haute couture line in the late 1990s. It is this line that allows the designer to freely create and delight in his own asthetic. In 2003, the success of this line led Hermes to hire Gaultier as creative director. Gaultier is also a very popular perfume designer. Jean Paul Gaultier Classique, introduced in 1993, is a classic and his men's cologne, Le Mâle, introduced two years later, is now the number-one men's fragrance in the European Union based on sales.
Jean-Paul Gaultier's wit and attitude would be lost were it not for his technical skill and sophistocation, shown by the success of his couture label. His looks are strong and may appear lecherous, while always remaining respectful to women's body and sexuality. As the '90s wore on and tastes began to change, his ready-to-wear followed suit, and today he is known by large as having mastered the looks of chiffon gowns, trench coats and pant suits.