Gaultique

October 3, 2011 § 9 Comments

On the set of Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover” (1989). Costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier. Corbis image © Byron Newman.

Late last month I had the opportunity to visit “La Planète mode de Jean Paul Gaultier. De la rue aux étoiles / The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. (Overheard in the “À fleur de peau/Skin Deep” room: a father telling the small boy on his shoulders, “Le créateur aimait faire des robes avec des seins pointus.”) The show wrapped up in Montreal yesterday but will be on tour in the U.S., Spain and the Netherlands in the coming months. (See the international tour schedule here.) If you missed the show, Susan Orlean’s article in the New Yorker captures the mood of celebration surrounding the exhibit.

I’m not aware of any Jean Paul Gaultier sewing patterns, but two of the houses where Gaultier worked as assistant designer before starting his own fashion business—Pierre Cardin and Jean Patou—had licensing agreements with Vogue Patterns. On his eighteenth birthday, April 24, 1970, Jean Paul Gaultier was hired as assistant designer at Pierre Cardin. The following year, after a brief stint at Jacques Esterel, Gaultier began work as assistant designer at the house of Jean Patou. In 1974 he returned to Pierre Cardin, working at the house’s Manila studio before launching his own label in 1976.

In honour of Jean Paul Gaultier, I thought I’d feature a few early seventies patterns from Cardin and Patou from around the time Gaultier was working as assistant designer at each house. (I may have overlooked some patterns—currently the early ’70s don’t seem to be very well represented in the Vintage Patterns Wiki.) I’ve tried to factor in the time lag between runway presentation and the appearance of a licensed Vogue design, but I should stress that my choices represent a rough guess.

First, two Cardin patterns from 1971. Vogue 2405 is a long-sleeved or sleeveless dress with loop streamers. The three streamers extend from the right side of the high waist and re-join the garment at the hemline:

Vogue 2405 by Pierre Cardin 1970s dress with flower and streamers designer pattern

Vogue 2405 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 2520 is a Pierre Cardin bridal gown: a long-sleeved, A-line wedding dress with high Empire waist and train-like back panel. The April/May 1971 issue of Vogue Pattern Book shows the dress made up in a silk knit. Isn’t it lovely?

Vogue 2520 Pierre Cardin 1970s wedding dress designer bridal gown pattern

Vogue 2520 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Wedding dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The most fabulous mid-seventies Jean Patou pattern I’ve seen is actually a loungewear design. Vogue 1344, modelled by Billie Blair, is an evening-length dress with a boat neck, blouson bodice, dolman sleeves, side slit, and a contrast sash with streamers:

1970s Jean Patou lounge dress pattern - Vogue 1344

Vogue 1344 by Jean Patou (1975) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Unless I’m mistaken, Vogue 1344 is the rightmost dress in this Vogue Patterns editorial photo:

Designer evening wear Karen Bjornson Billie Blair Vogue Patterns November December 1975

Vogue Patterns, November/December 1975. Image via eBay.

(Update: for a clearer image see Miss Dandy’s tumblr blog—the contrast sash is sequinned.)

The pattern envelope calls the dress “Misses’ loungewear.” Since the house of Patou was exclusively a couture house, this must be an example of couture loungewear! Maybe it’s because I just saw the Montreal exhibit, but Vogue 1344 and Vogue 2405 remind me of a design in the show’s first room, a couture dress from Gaultier’s Spring 2007 couture collection. (See a photo of the mannequin on The Sewing Divas blog here.) The dress plays with the idea of streamers, integrating them into the skirt and also the motif of the bleeding heart:

Bleeding Heart evening gown Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture Spring 2007

Bleeding heart dress, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring 2007. Model: Querelle Jansen. Photo: Marcio Madeira via Vogue.co.uk.

Catherine Deneuve wore a black version to the 2007 Academy Awards:

Catherine Deneuve black bleeding heart dress Gaultier Couture 79th Academy Awards 2007

Catherine Deneuve in Gaultier Couture at the 79th Academy Awards, 2007. Photo via Style.com.

Gaultier himself designs through sketches, then collaborates with his atelier staff to develop the final design. In an interview with the curator of the Montreal exhibit, Gaultier discusses his formative technical training at Cardin and Patou. He says he “definitely had my rite of passage at Patou” and was still developing his technique during his second position at Cardin, when he made clothes for the notorious Imelda Marcos:

“When I worked for Cardin in the Philippines, I was always learning, because I really didn’t have any technique at that point. I dressed Imelda Marcos, making her clothes under the Cardin name that didn’t hold up or have the right proportions, but she wore them all the same!”

—from Thierry-Maxime Loriot, “The Rise of a Couturier,” in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier (catalogue excerpt downloadable here).

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