Gaultier's Falbalas

Born in Arcueil in 1952, as a child Jean Paul Gaultier used to take refuge in his grandmother Marie’s beauty salon...
20 April 2015
Jean Paul Gaultier et sa grand-mère maternelle, Marie vers 1958 © DR / Archives Jean Paul Gaultier
Self-taught, he drew his sensitivity from variety shows and films. He was particularly captivated by the dazzling costumes of the dancers of the Folies Bergère, and his learning materials at the time were magazines like Jardin des Modes, together with the television programme Dim Dam Dom. Thanks to Jacques Becker’s 1944 film Falbalas, while still a child he discovered with delight the world of Parisian haute couture; this was the trigger that revealed his vocation as a designer to him. As a teenager, he designed two collections a year and promptly used to send his sketches to the great Parisian couture houses. Yves Saint Laurent found his choice of colours too bold, but on the day of his 18th birthday, he was offered a job as an assistant by Pierre Cardin in his studio in the 8th arrondissement.

In the early 1970s, when swinging London was eclipsing Parisian chic, Gaultier witnessed the cultural and social revolution in France and abroad. With the help of his life companion and business partner Francis Menuge, he presented his first collection in October 1976 at the Planétarium in the Palais de la Découverte in Paris. At the same time, he met his first muses and ever loyal collaborators of the designer: Anna Pawlowski, Aïtize Hanson, Frédérique Lorca, Inès de la Fressange and Farida Khelfa.

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