One nugget of advice Olivier Rousteing received from Jean Paul Gaultier for his one-off couture collection: Just be yourself, that is, to be bad?. A profound statement (if you know what I mean) from a French fashion legend synonymous with unfettered self-expression and presaging a process of discovery for Rousteing, who has spent most of his fashion career at Balmain, which he overhauled and reenergized in his own image.
In the ateliers at peak concentration, Rousteing realized his intricate designs in an exclusive preview at Jean Paul Gaultier headquarters on Friday, nobody understood anything in the workshops!. At Balmain, I have a different sense of femininity. Despite expressing sadness at the conclusion of the project, Rousteing was grateful for the opportunity, praising the atelier’s capabilities.
In honor of Gaultier’s countless contributions to fashion, he took on the task with great respect. One of the few designers who could be both a creative director as well as iconic and well known around the world, he was a real inspiration to me as a designer. Rousteing marveled at Gaultier’s fame as much as his clothes, putting him on the same level as Yves Saint Laurent.
Gaultier also served as a role model for generations of designers, including his own. Additionally, Rousteing praised Gaultier’s reputation for superb craftsmanship and a wide range of expression.
Rousteing follows Sacai’s Chitose Abe and Y/Project’s Glenn Martens in interpreting Jean Paul Gaultier’s rich legacy following his retirement from the runway in 2020.
Like his predecessors, Rousteing also created a ready-to-wear side project: a menswear collection inspired by Gaultier’s spring 1994 show that introduced his iconic tattoo prints, and references to piercings and other body art.
Rousteing confessed that he was initially scared; when Gaultier approached him to design a one-off couture collection.
This house is such a treasure that I didn’t want to f–k it up. I just want to make the best. I kept saying to him, I just want you to be proud of this collection, he related.
While he offered to show Gaultier his designs, the founder resisted, telling Rousting, I want to be surprised. But I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.