Yours truly will never forget the first time she had the awe-inspiring pleasure to see a Jean Paul Gaultier garment with her own eyes. It was during the Le Défilé exhibition at the Musée de la Mode, Paris in 2007. The exhibit showcased the costume designs of Jean Paul Gaultier spanning 20 years of collaboration with renowned choreographer, Régine Chopinot. The favorite had to be the black leotard with the tulle cape structure striking out from the back; created for the 1985 ballet, Le Défilé. One would be hard pressed not to recognize any of Jean Paul Gaultier’s work. Who could forget Madonna’s cone bra or the imaginative costumes in The Fifth Element? No matter how little or how much you dabble in fashion, you can recognize Jean Paul Gaultier’s work through his bold fabrics and silhouettes.
Through Gaultier’s career, he has inspired worldwide trends and has thus continuously changed fashion and brought it to new heights through music, movies, and stage. Through various charity sales and projects, the Jean Paul Gaultier atelier has donated to worldwide organizations such as Aides, the American Red Cross, and AmFAR.
It is because of his leadership in the arts, and his dedicated charity work, that Jean Paul Gaultier received the Charles de Ferry de Fontnouvelle award on Saturday, March 17th, from the Lycée Français de New York at their annual fundraising Gala. Hosted at the Park Avenue Armory, this year’s theme was Les Années Folles-Inspiring minds, Sharing Cultures, celebrating the Paris of the 1920s, a period of extraordinary cultural exchange between France and the United States.
The Gala is an annual highlight of fundraising activity at the Lycée. It brings together the school’s international community, welcoming dignitaries, celebrities and artists to celebrate the unique cultural environment and education the Lycée provides its diverse student body. Last year, the Gala raised over $1.9 million directed towards supporting the school’s educational and cultural initiatives as well as its generous scholarship program.
“Mr. Gaultier is widely acclaimed as one of the globe’s most visionary creators, renowned for the originality of his designs, as well as the multicultural dimension of his aesthetic,” said Sean Lynch, Head of School. “We are inspired by his humanity, innovative spirit, and creativity, qualities celebrated during Les Années Folles and so essential to the personal development of our community of students.”
Founded in 1935, the Lycée Français de New York is a non-profit, independent private coeducational institution located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The Lycée offers an international, bilingual education to a diverse community of 1350 students representing nearly 60 nationalities from early childhood through high school. The school’s mission rests on three pillars: academic excellence, personal growth and fulfillment, and global citizenship. The Lycée is chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, and accredited by the French Ministry of National Education and by The New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). The LFNY awards the New York State High School Diploma and prepares students to pass the traditional French Baccalaureate, the International Option of the French Baccalaureate, and the French-American Baccalaureate. In regards to being honored by such a prestigious institution Gaultier says, “I am very glad and proud to be honored by [the Lycée Français]. Through fashion, I learned English, for example, and for me it is very important that [the students] have the opportunity to learn and communicate with people all over the world.”
Gaultier was looking cool as ever on Saturday in a tone on tone black pinstripe ensemble. When asked about his preference getting dressed for such an event, “It does not have to be an obligation to be in a tuxedo, although it can be quite nice, because it is not every day. It’s like the idea of Sunday clothes, having a special day to get dressed. There is an idea of French men and women that don’t care (how they dress), yet seem so elegant, but really that’s just for movies. It’s not reality. It is the same in America, Italy, and England. That’s why it can be nice to dress it up. But for myself, I like to dress others. They are my inspiration.”
Mr. Gaultier currently has a retrospective exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier; from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which heads to the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco on March 24th before returning to Europe. Gaultier will be heading west with his work before traveling to the bright lights of Las Vegas saying, “I can’t wait to see a show!” He mused about his first trip to Vegas in 1980, when he saw Siegfried and Roy. He was looking forward to his upcoming adventure there, and hoping to be wowed by the costumes and shows once again. Yours truly waits with baited breath to see the next round of inspired designs from this celebrated couturier.
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