Jean Paul Gaultier hardly ever shows up Stateside, so when the man himself descended upon Manhattan for a 72-hour trip (Wednesday to Friday) to celebrate his Bergdorf Goodman boutique opening and the 30th anniversary of his line, it caused quite a frenzy—not least among his staff, who whispered in hushed tones, "He never makes a P.A.!" (That would be a "personal appearance.") Jada Yuan spoke to him on Wednesday, uncovering some surprising plans. (Friday, she checked in to see if he'd actually followed through with them.)
Did airport security confiscate anything on your way here?
I shouldn't say it, but they let me in very easily. My PR warned me that they have to see everything, so I bring a transparent bag. It was very elegant, very good with my traveling outfit. Transparent is very chic. It looks good with everything. Besides, I can fly without perfume. I think you can even buy some on the plane.
What do you want to do while you're here?
I want to eat a hamburger first. A real big, good hamburger. I want to go to a vintage shop for clothes. I want to walk in Soho to see galleries. I want to see movies. I want to see the one with André 3000 of OutKast. And I want to see The Devil Wears Prada. And I want to see a musical. Which one do you recommend? It must be visually nice—dazzling design, nice choreography.
The only one I think you'd like is Sweeney Todd, but it closed. Wait. Don't they have hamburgers in France?
Yes, but they are bad hamburgers. They don't do it properly. The ones here are ten times better —any hotel, any restaurant is better than in France. In France, I only eat French food, but in America, I want to eat a hamburger and French food and American food.
Do Americans just not know how to dress?
Not true! A lot of women here are very well dressed, more than in Paris. Parisian women don't want to look dressed. I don't know! I think I have never lived in Paris in a time when people were well dressed. I think since the time I was born, I was always seeing badly dressed women. They don't care. They don't want to show their money. You can look good without money, but even when they don't have money, they don't care enough to try.
Postscript: On Friday Gaultier woke up, went vintage shopping in the East Village and Soho, visited Commes de Garçon and Balenciaga, ate a burger at the Soho Grand, finally finished off the night with a double-header of Idlewild and The Devil Wears Prada. He is a man of his word.