In his latest publicity appearance for the exhibition "From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk," Jean Paul Gaultier sat down with Suzy Menkes at London’s Barbican last night for an on-stage interview. He was greeted by the wild applause from an audience of fans, many of whom were wearing his trademark Breton stripes. Menkes barely needed to ask questions — Gaultier talked at top speed for over an hour with infectious enthusiasm, lapsing regularly into French. From discussing Galliano to Gaga, read the highlights of his talk below.
On coming out to his family: “[My parents] were not typically French. They were very open-minded. I remember that one day I saw a movie with Sidney Poitier, which was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. And it was a love story between one black guy and one white woman. After seeing that, I asked my parents, ‘If I arrive with a girlfriend and she’s black, what would you say?’ ‘If you love each other,’ said my mother, ‘it will be perfect.’ And years after, when I told them that I was gay and had a boyfriend, they said to me, ‘You love each other?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ They said, ‘So that’s perfect.’”
On why he didn’t wear a skirt for the interview: “The first skirt I did was very long, and now in my old age, when there are stairs … [He mimes struggling to walk up the stairs] So I have to make it mini. But maybe I am a little more puritan now, so to show all my legs is a bit too much.”
On John Galliano: “John Galliano did fabulous things [at Dior]. I should say, he is very talented, truly fabulous, and not at all the racist of the image that they’ve shown. On the contrary. He is not a racist.”
On Madonna: “I was in some ways in love with Madonna. I saw her dancing to Holiday [on TV] and she was dressed very well … It was exactly in my spirit and I said, ‘Oh, she must be English!’ because the look was not at all American. I loved her music — I love that first period of Madonna more than anything else.”
On his early career: “It has not been easy since the beginning. I had no money, but I had the enthusiasm. You know, my parents had no money. But I think for me it has been better, because I know that with nothing I can do something … If you have passion, nothing is impossible. If you are obsessed by something and you want to do it, you will find a solution to do it … Maybe I was lucky, because [my first job was as an apprentice of] Pierre Cardin. I didn’t go to fashion school. My obsession with fashion became my school — I was reading [every magazine], and for me it was a Bible.”
On Lady Gaga: “Lady Gaga has more eccentricity, rather than style. What I loved about Madonna is that she had style and girls wanted to dress like her. With Gaga it’s more difficult, because it’s all eccentricity.”
On Miley Cyrus: “She’s very young. I should remark only that there is something with the Disney girls, no? That they all become so sexual. I don’t know if it’s Mickey, or … ?”
On Suzy Menkes: “Suzy is truly somebody incredible as a journalist. So professional, so talented — with a sense of humor of course, because she is British. Even a bad critique from her is always a compliment, because you know that she knows very well of what she is speaking. It’s not so pleasant to have a bad critique, but I must say that if she does it, you have to see afterwards what you have done [because she’s probably right].”
Most Viewed Stories
Serena Williams’s Pregnancy Announcement Was Completely Unintentional
The Most Depressing Ways The Bachelor Couple Have Described Their Relationship
Ask Polly: Is Life All Downhill From Here?
Zeke Thomas Speaks Out for the First Time About Being Assaulted
All the Cool Girls Had One: 16 Women on Teen Status Symbols
Should You Be Boycotting SheaMoisture?
A Dead Woman’s Fitbit Data May Lead to Her Husband’s Murder Conviction
Ikea Would Like You to Consider Its 99-Cent Tote Over Balenciaga’s $2,145 Version
I Was the Queen Bee: 3 High-School Bullies Describe Their Reigns of Terror
A Snazzy White Blouse With a Colorful Purse Is a Good Look
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.