Jean Paul Gaultier is the host of the 57th edition of the Confrontation festival founded by the Jean-Vigo institute. Present in Perpignan this Thursday 5 May, sitting on the stage of the Charles Trenet auditorium of the Palais des Congrès in Perpignan, the couturier surrenders in a fluvial interview for lindependant.fr.
Probably a chauvinist question, but do you know Perpignan and the Eastern Pyrenees?
I had been in the area before. I had taken a vacation tour to 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 that I had to return. Haven’t had time to visit yet, but I 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 made me demonstrations of sardana.
Was it normal?
He liked to dance and had a great time here. I haven’t memorized the dance steps though …
It’s like riding a bicycle, you can’t forget that …
But I did very little (laughs)!
We keep repeating that that’s when we see the movie frills (1945) that your vocation for sewing was born. What marked you in this dip in post-war haute couture?
I was 13 when I stumbled upon this movie. I looked at him with one eye and ended up being dazzled. I saw a tragic love story but, beyond that, it was the world of couture that fascinated me. This film is a perfect picture of this world. Director Jean Becker was friends with coutrier Marcel Rochas. He was therefore able to immerse himself in this world of couture before shooting the film. But knowing something and transcribing it with such precision was not easy. Becker did it perfectly.
When I started, I built my shows like movies
What you saw on the screen as a child, did you experience it when you made your dream come true?
Yes, really. When I started working, I was confronted with all the characters I had seen in the film. From the lead role to the supporting roles, it was about everything. Down to the small details, such as the lock of hair tucked into the wedding dress, to respect tradition. This film was my fashion school. I didn’t do anything else.
Come and introduce yourself And God created woman (1956) that 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 yes ! Cinema has always interested me. I’ve always watched a lot of movies. We also did the film and fashion exhibition with the actress and director Tonie Marshall because, for me, these two worlds were associated. Without knowing it, when I started, I built my shows like movies.
You also worked for the cinema …
With Almodóvar three times, Besson for the Fifth element (1997) …
Do you create for the cinema as for a collection?
For nothing. For cinema you can give a little of your own style, but you always have to think about the needs of the story and the wishes of the director. When I do my shows, I show my story, or at least what I wanted to tell at that moment. But entering another’s world is also very stimulating.
My breasts were a provocation, an armor
Precisely, you have evoked the tumultuous love story that is at the heart of frillshave your feelings been able to inspire you for your collections?
It has also happened several times. Clothing is not simply something we will wear. Show things and provoke emotions. I also think that the model, like an actress, can both embody and inspire. The models were wonderful performers. In the late 70’s – early 80’s, when I saw the girls of the Palazzo who were modern, free, contrasting with the image of the kind woman, it inspired me enormously. They embodied freedom, they were the opposite of the woman object. For this I created the man object. In 1984-85 I saw a change take place. So I wanted to show how man became more and more venal and objective. How the woman got free. And my breasts (the corset created by “JPG” and unveiled in 1983 for Madonna during her Blond Ambition Tour) were also a provocation and an armor, there was nothing erotic about it. So, yes, the feelings are very present. Even when we make abstract and non-portable creations, it can be to express a desire, a need or that we feel in a chaotic moment.
Have you created abstract and non-wearable creations?
I always think they are 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 don’t 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. Eventually, some may have thought this once, but that’s it.