Jean Paul Gaultier is a guest at the 57th edition of the Confrontation festival founded by the Jean-Vigo Institute. Present in Perpignan this Thursday, May 5, sitting on the stage of the Charles Trenet auditorium of the Palais des Congrès in Perpignan, the couturier surrenders in a river interview for lindependant.fr.
Probably a chauvinistic question, but do you know Perpignan and the Pyrénées-Orientales?
I had been in the area before. I had toured France and went to Collioure, I loved it. I have wonderful memories of it. When I was offered to participate in the festival, I told myself it was a sign to come back. I haven’t had time to drop by yet, but I definitely will. It’s funny because it reminds me of a childhood memory. My father had told me about Collioure, Perpignan, the Catalan country and the sardana.
Yes, yes, he gave me demonstrations of sardana.
Was he a regular customer?
He loved to dance and he had a great holiday here. I haven’t learned the dance steps by heart though…
It’s like riding a bike, you can’t forget it…
But I did very little (laughs)!
We keep repeating that it’s when we see the movie Falbalas (1945) that your vocation for sewing was born. What characterized you in this dive into post-war haute couture?
I was 13 when I came across this movie by accident. I looked at him with one eye and was eventually blinded. I saw a tragic love story, but otherwise it was the world of couture that fascinated me. This film is a perfect painting of this world. The director Jean Becker was a friend of the couturier Marcel Rochas. He was therefore able to immerse himself in this world of couture before shooting the film. But knowing something and transcribing it so accurately was not easy. Becker did it perfectly.
When I started I built my shows like movies
What you saw on screen as a child, did you experience when you realized your dream?
Yes really. When I started working, I was standing next to all the characters I had seen in the film. From lead roles to supporting roles, it was all about it. Down to the smallest details, such as the lock of hair slid into the wedding dress, to respect the tradition. This movie was my fashion school. I haven’t done any other.
You will also present And God created the woman (1956) which made Brigitte Bardot an icon, was she a source of inspiration?
I know at one point she didn’t like what I was doing at all because I was working with fur, well… (laughs). But she marked her time. She represented freedom.
Has the link between cinema and fashion always seemed obvious to you?
Oh yeah ! Film has always interested me. I’ve always watched a lot of movies. With actress and director Tonie Marshall, we also did the film and fashion exhibition because these two worlds were connected for me. Unknowingly, when I started out, I built my shows like movies.
You’ve also worked for the cinema…
With Almodóvar three times, Besson for the fifth element (1997)…
Do you create for the cinema in the same way as for a collection?
Not at all. For the cinema, you can give a bit of your style, but you should always think about the requirements of the story and the wishes of the director. When I do my fashion shows, I show my own story, or at least what I wanted to tell at the time. But stepping into someone else’s world is also very inspiring.
My breasts were a provocation, an armor
Exactly, you evoked the tumultuous love story central to Falbalashave your feelings inspired you for your collections?
It even happened several times. Clothes are not just something we wear. It shows things and evokes emotions. I also think that, like an actress, the model can both embody and inspire. The models were great performers. In the late 1970s – early 1980s, when I saw the girls in the palace who were modern and free, contrasting with the image of the gentle woman, it really inspired me. They embodied freedom, were the opposite of the object woman. That’s why I created the object man. In 1984-85 I saw a change take place. So I wanted to show how the man became more and more corrupt and objectified. While the woman freed herself. And my breasts (the corset made by “JPG” and unveiled in 1983 for Madonna during her Blond Ambition Tour) were also a provocation and a harness, there was nothing erotic about it. So yes, the feelings are very present. Even if we make abstract and non-wearable creations, it can be to express a desire, a need or that we feel in a chaotic moment.
Have you made abstract and non-wearable creations?
I always think they are being worn by someone (laughs).
You have dressed and paraded many women, from Béatrice Dalle to Amanda Lear, Laetitia Casta, Mylène Farmer or even Nabilla, how would you dress the Catalan woman?
For me, the Catalan woman is a woman of today. I do not believe in the distinction between Paris and the provinces.
Don’t you believe it or don’t you believe it anymore?
I don’t believe it anymore. Finally, some may have thought this once, but it’s over.