10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jean Paul Gaultier

Artistic, unconventional, and unapologetically brilliant, Jean Paul Gaultier has become a fashion legend. Known for his avant-garde designs and the creation of iconic perfumes, his influence globally has been undeniably far-reaching. Here are 10 interesting things you may not have known about this inventive fashion maestro.

1. He Had No Formal Fashion Training

Contrary to popular perception, Jean Paul Gaultier was never formally trained in fashion. He didn’t attend a prestigious fashion school, nor did he work his way up the corporate ladder in a famous fashion house. His interest in fashion design sparked from watching his grandmother’s fashion magazines and TV programs about fashion.

He managed to land his first job in the industry by sending his sketches to famous couture stylists. Pierre Cardin was impressed by his talent and became his mentor. However, his lack of traditional training never held him back from revolutionizing the world of fashion with his brilliant and out-of-the-box ideas.

2. Madonna’s Iconic Cone Bra is His Creation

One of the most iconic costumes Madonna ever wore, the cone bra, was the ingenious creation of JeanPaul Gaultier. Originally designed as a tribute to the vintage era of the 1950s and 60s, the cone bra became a symbol of the singer’s bold and controversial performances during the Blonde Ambition World Tour in 1990.

Gaultier and Madonna shared an electrifying collaboration that spanned decades. His fashion-forward ideas perfectly complemented Madonna’s eccentric persona, resulting in ground-breaking fashion moments that are remembered to this day.

3. He Hosted a TV Show

From creating runways to rocking them and even taking over the small screen, there is nothing that Gaultier can’t do. He co-hosted a kitschy TV series, ‘Eurotrash,’ between 1993-1997. The show offered humorous takes on Europop and its subcultures, as well as a fervent celebration of the absurd and the unusual.

‘Eurotrash’ was a hilarious embodiment of Gaultier’s love for the irregular and the extraordinary, and his flamboyantly delightful presence brought an additional layer of panache to the show.

4. He Created an Entire Collection Honoring His Life Partner

Francis Menuge was not just Gaultier’s life-long partner but also his business partner for many years. Menuge was instrumental in creating Gaultier’s fashion house and was a significant part of his journey. When Menuge died of AIDS in 1990, Gaultier was devastated.

In honor of Menuge’s death, Gaultier dedicated his entire 1991 Spring/Summer collection to him. It was a touching tribute, and the collection is remembered for its emotional intensity and design excellence.

5. He Was Creative Director of Hermès for 7 Years

Jean Paul Gaultier was the creative director of Hermès, one of the most prestigious fashion houses globally, from 2003 to 2010. Taking the helm in this capacity, he brought a nuanced sense of modernity and allure to the brand’s traditional luxury aesthetic.

Drawing inspiration from streetwear for his own label, Gaultier demonstrated that he could also create designs that upheld the timeless elegance and craftsmanship associated with a prestigious brand like Hermès.

6. His Work extends Beyond Clothes

Besides being a fashion designer, Gaultier has also created costumes for numerous films, including “The Fifth Element” and “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.” His unique sensibility and strong visual narrative allowed him to translate his ideas into these cinematic universes effectively.

Moreover, Gaultier’s keen sense of aesthetics and his love for all things vintage and alternative have also made him a well-respected furniture designer. This versatility undoubtedly proves the depth of his artistic talent.

7. He Used Unconventional Models

Long before body-positivity and inclusivity became popular buzzwords in the fashion industry, Gaultier was already breaking ground by using unconventional models. He was among the first designers to feature models who were heavily tattooed or had piercings, as well as more mature models and those with fuller bodies.

This was Gaultier’s way of challenging the conventional norms of beauty, a testament to his belief in celebrating individuality and uniqueness above all else. This progressive mindset has been a significant influence in moving forward the conversation about diversity in the fashion industry.

8. He Has His Own Perfume Line

Launched in 1993, Jean Paul Gaultier released a perfume line that quickly became as famous as his high-end clothing. His bold and captivating fragrances are housed in distinctive bottles shaped like torsos – another example of his daring and avant-garde aesthetic.

The line includes scents for men and women and has enjoyed remarkable success worldwide. Gaultier’s keen understanding of fashion and fragrance trends has enabled him to create perfumes that are as memorable and challenging as his clothing collections.

9. His First Couture Show was in 1997

While JeanPaul Gaultier’s brand was established in the 1980s, it wasn’t until 1997 that he presented his first haute couture collection. The show was a commercial and critical success, featuring designs that were imaginative and highly detailed, proving Gaultier’s capability to design beyond ready-to-wear fashion.

Since that triumphant debut, his couture presentations have been among the most anticipated events during Paris Fashion Week, each season offering another glimpse into Gaultier’s wildly creative imagination.

10. He Announced his Retirement in 2020

After an illustrious career in fashion that spanned over four decades, Jean Paul Gaultier announced his retirement after his final haute couture show in 2020. The iconic designer bowed out on his terms, showcasing an epic, retrospective collection that encapsulated his adventurous and audacious style.

While this marked the end of an era, Gaultier has stated that the brand will continue, but with a different concept. Each season, a new designer will be invited to present a collection under the name Gaultier Paris, ensuring the brand’s future carries on his rebellious spirit and creativity.


  • Jean Paul Gaultier Official Website
  • Jean Paul Gaultier at Vogue
  • Jean Paul Gaultier Perfumes