jeudi 25 septembre 2014

Good Bye Enfant Terrible

The end of ready-to-wear for Jean-Paul Gaultier
A pointing finger on the over-exigence of the 21th Fashion industry?

September the 15th. In the middle of the electric Fashion month marathon...

Jean Paul Gaultier has announced plans to cease his women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections and accessories lines” 

Yes, one of our iconic french designer is saying goodbye his ready-to-wear strategic business unit.

The first reaction was shock: Oh, no! How can we imagine a ready-to-wear schedule without the one-time enfant terrible of French fashion — whose ready-to-wear shows had been among the hottest tickets in fashion week, with editors literally fighting for entree? Even if, in recent seasons, many of those same editors (myself included) had thought (or, ahem, written) that Mr. Gaultier’s ready-to-wear was becoming increasingly irrelevant, relying on the crutch of old ideas that may have been sensationalist 15 years ago, but now seemed achingly familiar?

Vanessa Friedman from NYT here highlights two main points : the undeniable affection that the fashion sphere has for JPG, the tradition of his dancing, exciting and original shows waited every six months... And on the other hand, a kind of jaded look glanced at the clothes themselves. They are kind of passed, even described as "retro".

What was so avant-garde, shocking and innovative for 80's has lost its meaning in our society.
Here Madonna in her famous pointing bras by JPG.

"Irrelevant" to take Vanessa Friedman's words. Irrelevant to what?

I think it means that Jean-Paul Gaultier's vision of fashion is not relevant to the today's challenges of  what was a place to express art through people clothes and which is now an intransigent business.

His joy of creating crazy clothes for people is now unadapted (old-fashioned?) of Ready-To-Wear segment needs.

However, "editors literally fighting for entree?" is still a true statement. But why, if the product don't interest them? The experience. To tell that they were at the show. Literaly a show, not a product presentation: Jean-Paul Gaultier's show are an experience, with models dancing, playing with a role or a theme. Last season, models were staged has candidates for "Dancing with the stars" TV show.

JPG in Ready-To-Wear was more about entertainment, than about business.
And this little amusement can make smile for a while, but the industry is not here for laughing.

This sadly reminds us Christian Lacroix's story"another formerly famous French name that slid off the schedule on the back of falling sales and who is now concentrating on (yup) costumes and other collaborations, fade into the ether of long ago?"(NYtimes) 
Christian Lacroix clothes were so imaginative, so out of our everyday needs in terms of ready-to-wear, that profits went away and he had to let down his own company?

Everything goes so fast, customers are bored so quickly, wanting their autumn clothes in July (Pre-fall collections are already in store after summer sales), to know what they are going to wear by march in September(Fashion Week)... Designers need to create/produce(which word to use?) something (and by something I mean many, many products, adaptations, patterns, shapes etc) every two months. And the Ny Times' journalist highlights it:

"After all, when Mr. Gaultier started his business in 1982, fashion was not even an industry. Designers made two collections a year. When he introduced couture in 1997, that brought his grand total of collections up to four. With men’s wear, it went to ... six!"

Is the fashion industry going to exigent? Does the business let enough space for creativity and... some dream? Some unwearable dresses? Some scenarios?

But the last news let us be optimistic. Our Enfant Terrible is not going away. He confides to Women Wear Daily Magazine:
“Commercial constraints, as well as the frenetic pace of collections, don’t leave any freedom, nor the necessary time to find fresh ideas and to innovate.”

"WWD got the scoop that the designer intends to focus his time and creative energies on his couture collection and lucrative perfume business. WWD reports the news “points to challenging times for midsize players in an era of megabrands with global store networks."
Actually JPG is clearing his portfolio. By narrow downing its work, he allows himself to focus on what brings money (Beauty products) and what is adapted for him to express his vision (costume and couture).

We can note this funny things : most of fashion Houses have dropped their couture segment to focus on what makes money nowadays: ready-to-wear. JPG made it the other way.

Paris Fashion Week has begun. Saturday the 27th, our Enfant Terrible will present his last collection at the Grand Rex.

I think we can brace ourselves for an incredible show full of personalities who have marked the history of fashion by Jean Paul Gaultier!

Article of Vanessa Friedman available here.

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