Fall 2018 Haute Couture: Lighting Up with Jean Paul Gaultier


French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier has never shied away from controversy and for Fall/Winter 2018, he took on not one but two controversial themes: the #freethenipple movement and smoking in public (the French government has recently announced plans to ban smoking in public parks).


Gaultier played on the double meaning of the word Smoking (Le Smoking is also the tuxedo for women, first created by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s, and often reprised by Gaultier). He projected on his runway’s backdrop the words “Smoking or No Smoking” while he revisited classic smoking jackets and smoking dresses, deconstructing them into a double-breasted bustier dress; cutting their sleeves or printing one trompe l’oeil on a caftan. A black tuxedo came in with a nifty back pocket to store an umbrella, or front pockets to hold cigarettes and a lighter.

The cigarette smoke theme was extended through the use of grey chiffon, curled embroideries like wafts of smoke on a black jersey dress, there was even a gown with a clear plastic smoking partition.


The sharp tailoring often had an androgynous bent (a theme also embraced by Lebanese designer Rami Kadi).

Towards the end of his show, the designer sent a male and a female model in similar flared trousers both wearing aprons and transparent perspex chest plates emblazoned with slogans: ‘Free the Nipple’ and their French equivalent ‘Téton Libres’ as well as ‘Liberté, Egalité’. This was in reference to a recent battle over bras after a Florida teenager was asked by her school to put bandage material over her nipples under her sweatshirt or wear a bra.


Gaultier told AFRP it was “scandalous” that a girl should be treated that way, adding that if “men had the right to go bare-chested why not women?”


The designer also put several men’s looks on his runway, an unusual move for couture, but in line with his equality stance.