Jean Paul Gaultier, the legendary 65-year-old enfant terrible of fashion has announced that he will stage a racy, music-filled show about his colorful life and career. “Fashion Freak Show” will debut in October 2018 at the Paris Folies Bergere theater before setting off on an international tour.
Gaultier spoke to The Associated Press from his Paris atelier, posing on a fluffy bridal carriage designed for his most recent haute couture show. “This show is the story of my life,” Gaultier explained, “It starts in 1976 – not my birthday, my first collection,” adding that the story will snake through four decades of his life, from his childhood dressing his teddy bear, sketching designs, finding his grandmother’s corset, to his first big break working for Pierre Cardin in the 70s, and into the wildly creative 80s and 90s. The designer noted that he will also draw from past collaborations and inspirations for his revue style production that will combine singing, dancing and acting.
The fashion superstar is no stranger to theatrical productions as he has long embraced dramatic cabaret themes in his work and runways, admitting, “I like the dynamism and the joy they create.” This theatricality has inspired his most iconic collections, which will be featured in the show. Gaultier’s collections have become milestones in fashion, notably the introduction of the groundbreaking man-skirt in his 1984 Boy Toy collection, and his wildly iconic tutu, motorcycle jacket and bustier from his first collection.
Of course, what would a Gaultier revue be without the inclusion of his most famous and globally recognized collaboration; designing the costumes, including the coned corsets for Madonna’s famed “Blond Ambition” tour in 1990. Perhaps Madge herself will play some part in the show. The maverick couturier’s designs for other celebrities (Kylie Minogue, Dita Von Teese, Beyonce, Marilyn Manson), for the works of renowned film auteurs (Pedro Almodovar, Luc Besson, Peter Greenaway) and his time as creative director at Hermes will also make an appearance in “Fashion Freak Show.”
Explaining the use of “Freak” in the title of his show, Gaultier said he chose the word because freak c’est chic, a sentiment that echoes the fashion innovator’s flair for decadent, often ostentatious pieces, and his revolutionary use of unconventional models (older men, full-figured women, gender neutral models). Never one to shy from controversy in the couture world, Gaultier has often enjoyed infusing his work with daring gender and homosexual themes and twists, including the risqué Querelle-inspired commercial campaigns for his men’s fragrance Le Male.
Gaultier’s love life will undoubtedly play a pivotal emotional arc in “Fashion Freak Show.” The designer’s devastating loss of his partner and creative collaborator, Francis Menuge, in 1990 from AIDS nearly ended his career. After the death, Gaultier nearly stopped making fashion, but he realized, “it is not possible. I’ll go on because (it was) our baby, what we had done together.” The resilient iconoclast continued his work, became a champion of AIDS research and charities including amfAR, and drew great pride in appreciating that, “I am lucky because I am doing now what I dreamt of doing as a child.”
Tickets for “Fashion Freak Show” go on sale today (November 9).