With the unerring step of a sleepwalker, Jean-Paul Gaultier’s work goes ever again straight to the concept of taste itself. In questioning taste, he strikes at the very heart of the century of fashion. According to the criteria of the taste that has been lovingly cultivated over centuries, his fashion is completely tasteless.
Point of view
His ongoing deconstruction of Paris fashion is a kind of surrealism against the grain, which consciously makes a fool of itself. From the historical point of view, his work mobilizes Schiaperelli, the fashion designer of the surrealists, against Chanel, the designer of the classic, comfortable understatement. Schiaperelli’s is an art of the surprising, absurd detail, which focuses attention on the dress; the contrast could not be greater with Chanel, a fashion which erases itself, which consciously does not present itself as art, applying its whole skill, on the contrary, to make the dress disappear behind the mask of the personality.
Chanel grafted the understatement of the English landed gentry, with its not so frequently washed wool, tweed and jersey, onto the fashion of the French court aristocracy, devoted to representation and splendor. The fashion equivalent of the total artwork, as presented by Poiret, with its baroque display of splendor, is an image of the festivities of the court. Schiaparelli carried this over into exaggerated avant-garde nonsense