“Always, I wanted difference and opposition,” said French couturier and provocateur Jean-Paul Gaultier. “My eccentricity became direction.” And since taking fashion’s center stage in the 1980s, Gaultier and his “eccentricities” have certainly expanded the way the rest of the world sees beauty. Sex is at the forefront; ethnicity and gender are fluid; and beauty is . . . well, beauty doesn’t have to be beautiful. His is a world of singular joie de vivre and great tailoring. Find out what you know about this onetime enfant terrible of fashion.
Questions by Lisa Santandrea. Santandrea is a New York City–based writer who teaches fashion history at Parsons School of Design. Background image: Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture printemps été 2000, Paris, by Gérard Uféras