Post by Frank G. Cierpial
It is said in psychology that if a person knows something to be false but hears it enough times, this person will inevitably begin to believe the falsehood and to question themselves. This is what happens to most designers in the fashion industry. Society has always dictated to us what is considered beautiful or ugly and masculine or feminine, especially in the Fashion Industry. And it is rare that a designer will decide not to be swayed in his or her thinking, and it is even rarer that a designer will actually reflect those opinions in an industry of so many rules and opinions dictated by the ever important opinions of shareholders. But, there is one designer who stuck to his guns and did something truly incredible. He always said “La plus grande élégance, c’est la verité”. This is Jean Paul Gaultier. Now, Jean Paul Gaultier is my favorite designer. So, it was an incredible experience to go in his first store in Paris and take in the essence of his philosophy on fashion. Usually when you walk into an Haute Couture store it is usually a bit intimidating. The people are dressed and groomed perfectly. For example, when I walked into Yves Saint Laurent in New York, the guy who opened the door was beyond hot; he looked like the manager had taken an issue of Vogue magazine, put it into a copy machine, and out came this incredibly hot guy, just to open the door! But when you arrive at 6 Rue Vivienne in the quaint second arrondissement in the city of lights, an immediate feeling comes over you that says “Bienvenue, Entrez, you are welcome here !”. And, from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave, you will feel comfortable, at ease, and no one will make you feel as if you do not belong there.
They would not let me take pictures inside, so I will describe the inside to you. This boutique had two floors. The women’s collection is on the bottom floor and the men’s collection is on the top floor. As you walk in, you can see his urban punk inspired collections nicely accented with leather, lace and corsets. Just beyond the collection for women, there is a book left open that was turned to the page of a picture of Jean Paul Gaultier with Madonna in the early 90’s. A bit diagonal to that is the counter and after the counter is a staircase which begins on the right and left side of the room and meets in the center at a stained glass window. Behind that stained glass window is the Men’s collection. Immediately when you walk in, you feel the essence of Jean Paul Gaultier. His signature sailor shirts are displayed. I asked to try one on, but they were out (not surprised there since this Summer’s ad campaign with coca-cola has made his famous t-shirts an even bigger icon across the globe). And, his skirts for men are displayed nicely in the back. In the middle of the second floor was a big glass container in the middle of the room with all kinds of accessories and the floor was nicely accented with combat boots. If you can afford some of the clothes from the boutique (I’m jealous), but even if you cannot it is still an amazing store to see, because it is more than just a boutique. It is the outcome of courage. Jean Paul Gaultier had the courage to run his line according to his belief system, the courage to follow his dreams, and the courage to be true to himself. Jean Paul Gaultier is more than just a designer. He is the best example of what we all want to be.