by Alain Chivilò
Tattooing has a thousand-year history. Its meanings are different. For some it represents stories or thoughts to be placed in the body throughout a lifetime, for others a specific period which can also be modified by changing the indelible meaning it underlies. For some it is aesthetics to be highlighted in combination with the sculptural nature of the body, for some it serves to mask or draw attention to another detail of the body. For some it leaves indifferent, for others it highlights something to check. It has historical meanings from the display of strength towards oppression among the inmates, of associative loyalty in secret societies and sailors and religious and common purpose among those who participate in pilgrimages. It can also represent the tribal identity and a Society or a Nation.
In the world of fashion, the strength of a Maison is to draw on a heritage created over time which, years later, can be revived, relived, re-proposed and a source of further new creations.
The mention of these two apparently different elements is not trivial but, permeates and merges within the new collection, ready to wear, called TATTOO by Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion House.
Released on October 6, 2023, the clothes available are revitalized starting from the tradition of the brand which, over the decades, has been avant-garde, surpassing the moment that society was experiencing. Precisely for this reason body ornaments, iconic gimmicks, piercings, iconic bras, corsets and tight-fitting pieces, the same tattoos become elements for updated re-editions.
As indicated by Jean Paul Gaultier’s Creative Director Florence Tétier: “The Maison’s archives are supremely modern. Toying with the skin-tight garments, which are featured across all the emblematic collections, helped me celebrate the Gaultier woman, who loves to party but always remains professional, similarly to cabaret dancers. This season, I also wanted to play with iconic scenes of Gaultier’s universe; the ad campaign reenacts them with Mia Kidis and Omahyra Mota, of whom I’ve been a huge fan since my teenage years”.
The campaign of the collection was conceived by photographer and director Sharna Osborne. In this one of her among models, Omahyra Mota (Gaultier’s muse of the 2000s) and her partner in crime Mia Kidis wander the creative, real and fantastic paths of the founder Gaultier. Two women night owls wandering from the gates of Paris, Saint-Martin, land in an infamous arm wrestling session.
Within the Tattoo collection the clothes are interactive and allow the knitted and denim pieces to be shortened, adapted or rearranged as desired, providing a personal and original touch. For example, by undoing a few buttons you can transform a knitted sweater into gloves with sleeves, a bolero jacket and a bustier top. Furthermore, the cuffs of the raw cotton jeans can be completely undone or turned up, as with the ribbed cuffs of the nylon bomber jacket, on which the Blackletter or Gothic writing is engraved, a distinctive feature in the Jean Paul Gaultier tradition.
The trousers-skirt combination that the founder had modeled on the traditional long aprons of Parisian waiters is proposed for the first time.
Tattoo also brings to life a new collaboration with the Maison Jimmy Choo which will have new developments from 18 October 2023, day of the presentation.
On a technical level, the Tattoo collection presents simple but also complex connections with the archives drawn from the Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion House itself. Going into detail, thanks to the support communicated, we can see how the pieces in denim and trompe-l’oeil, representing a petit-grand motif never seen before in the same archives, inspired by the Autumn-Winter men’s clothing collection dated 1998, Like At Prayer.
Infusing formal wear with a rebellious spirit, tailored pieces playfully include lingerie-inspired openwork detailing, achieving an “inside-out” style. Tight fits become flexible being born from the costumes used by the artists on stage, naming the singer Madonna, muse and reference for Jean Paul. Hence the quote is dated 1990 with the blush pink of the iconic conical satin corset created by JPG for the Blond Ambition Tour, which today is reinvented in black and neon fuchsia, using the original mold as new point: bodysuit, dress and corset-bustier.
Continuing the journey between the new Tattoo collection and the archives: from the 1994 Spring-Summer collection entitled Les tatouages, the Safe Sex Forever motif uses a sailor tattoo style to convey a motto to live by. Flocked in black velvet on a stretch tulle top, the motif appears alongside other tattoo patterns, taken from the 1995 Pin-up Boys Autumn-Winter collection, resulting in exceptional contrast. The same motif is screen-printed in glitter on the tops and sweatshirts that bring to mind the streetwear of the nineties. Starting from the concept that all bodies are works of art, Safe Sex Forever merges on tops, skirts and dresses combined with the “morphing” models from the Cyberbaba Spring-Summer 1996 collection and the Autumn-Winter 2004 Les Marionnettes collections.
Also present is the bull’s head placed on the shoulders of some garments, which apperars from Jean Paul Gaultier’s zodiac sign on his left shoulder since 1993. With Safe Sex Forever, Jean Paul Gaultier has used the LGBTQ+ slogan of an entire era to create a trendy piece.
Combining past elements is not easy and Creative Director Florence Tétier begins from an all-in-one look. Since the 1990s, 1994, royal tattoos traced to develop tattoo-like motifs are revived today. From here we move on to the end of the first decade of the 2000s: originally designed for the Spring-Summer 2009 collection, entitled Les danseuses, the emblematic marinière-tattoo never reprinted after the founder’s official retirement returns. Striped uniforms and traditional Japanese tattoos.
The marinière tattoo, available in two skin tones, pairs two notoriously non-conforming figures in a single design: the sailor and the yakuza. Also since 2009 we see a sun similar to a tattoo, used in soft leather creations. Positioned on the body like the trompe-l’oeil, the sailor-tattoo and the sun-tattoo motifs decorate crossed crop-tops and pieces of stretch tulle that recall dance outfits.
As can be understood, the 2023 TATTOO collection starts from the past, combining multiple sources and creations, launching itself into current contemporaneity and everyday life. Dressing TATTOO by Maison JPG means sharing an avant-garde fashion tradition within strong, eccentric, provocative but also elegant matchings.
©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo