Jean Paul Gaultier, Bad Boy of Fashion, Madonna and the Virgin of Guadalupe

In 2007, French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier introduced his Spring/Summer 2007 Haute Couture Collection – Virgins on the Paris runway. It was controversial, ethereal, and evocative, garnering applause and criticism throughout the world.

                             This week I saw this collection, along with others on exhibition at The deYoung Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in Golden Gate Park.  It immediately brought to mind Mexico’s most revered saint, our Virgin of Guadalupe.

The animated mannequins draped in Gaultier’s vision of Virgin were singing hymns and crowned in areolae so magnificent, I could feel the aura.  Costuming a saint-like human figure takes imagination and courage.

In 2007, Gaultier selected a Paris strip-tease queen to wear one of his virginal outfits on the runway — a statement about repentance or redemption, perhaps?  He designs clothing to make you think, question, respond to society’s issues, ideals, undercurrents. (Gaultier clothed Madonna for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, see sketch below, introducing his famous cone bra — the epitome of punk style.)


In her book, Madre: Perilous Journey with a Spanish Noun, author and linguistic anthropologist Liza Bakewell discusses the Mexican man’s pre- and post-marriage image of woman.  Before marriage, she is The Malinche, the whore, sexual and fiery.  After marriage, she becomes the Virgin, revered mother of his children, unapproachable.

Gaultier captures both identities and blends them perfectly into an alluring, sexual goddess who is both approachable and revered.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk closed at the deYoung on August 19, 2012, but will travel to other locations worldwide.

Check out our two upcoming fashion design workshops in Oaxaca, Mexico, set for winter 2013.  (1) Felted Fashion Design and (2) Painting on Silk Art of the Rebozo clothing design.

2 responses to “Jean Paul Gaultier, Bad Boy of Fashion, Madonna and the Virgin of Guadalupe

  1. Thanks so much for this article & your thoughts on Gaultier and the Malinche/Madonna attitude in Mexican culture (it’s always fascinated me). Glad you got to see the show at the DeYoung. I was trying to, but sadly didn’t make it. I have a big postcard from it, sent by a friend, on my bulletin board. Loved seeing the video. I’ve always liked Gaultier’s work & his Spring 2007 collection especially! Catherine Deneuve, at the 2007 (?) Oscars, wore one of these (a little toned down for her) a long black crepey dress, with a red heart pierced with gold daggers & delicate red threads hanging down past her knees, to represent blood. It may sound strange to many but I was transfixed. I thought it was fabulous. The madonna collection was genius I think. Designers like Gaultier & Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Miuccia Prada, etc. are amazing artists. I saw the Alexander McQueen show last year at the Met (OMG!!) and the Valentino retrospective in Rome a few years ago (went back a second time while I was in Italia) and the ideas/themes and the intricacy & details are beyond belief. (Valentino made formal dresses based on Scherenschnitte, the intricate skill of German paper cutting, blue & white china and Roman architecture among others themes!) Designer clothing is an art form that I love. xo,S
    PS Thanks also for the 1/2 hour home movies video from the 30’s – I hardly breathed while watching it, I was so focused. Another fabulous. You go girl!

    • Suzanne, I’m sorry you missed it — the exhibition was a stunning show, and more importantly raised important issues about gender, identity, and what defines beauty. Definitely a visual and intellectual treat. Thanks for your insightful comments. I too, saw the Valentino show in Rome — ah, those red dresses next to Michelangelo’s marble sculptures were a knock-out. Thank you so much for your support and feedback. All my best, Norma

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