Thursday, March 20, 2008

Loosen Up

Jean Paul GaultierJean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier (French, b. 1952). Evening Dress, spring/summer 2001. Pink silk satin, pink silk tulle overlay with pink seed-bead embroidery, and pink silk ribbon laces. Purchase, Catharine Breyer Van Bomel Foundation Gift, and funds from various donors, 2001 (2001.455.2a–e).

Jean Paul Gaultier began as a free-spirited designer of prêt-a-porter collections, famed for the often louche references in his designs to Bettie Page waist-cinches and girdles, the mariner’s sweater via “Querelle” and the Marseille waterfront, the gender-bending androgyny of men in skirts and women in pinstriped suits, and the insular and mysterious communities of Andalusian Gypsies, Bedouins, and Manchu nomads. The Gaultier runway continues to yield an all-encompassing demographic of Fellini-esque assortment: the eccentric and the paradigmatic, the young and the old, members of every race, and every permutation of gender. Throughout his career, this panoply of characters has sported the tuxedos, trench coats, mariners’ sweaters, kilts, gangster suits, and corsets—leitmotifs that have become Gaultier’s signature vocabulary of apparel forms.

Of all the iconic elements associated with him, perhaps the most famous or notorious is the corset. Gaultier’s cone-bra and garter-fitted corset, sported by Madonna, brought this long-forgotten form of foundation apparel to the attention of a whole new generation. In this couture manifestation, however, the satin corset of the ready-to-wear has been extended to full length, covered with a skin of fine silk tulle, and completely over-embroidered with tiny seed beads. Even in the elitist precincts of haute couture, however, Gaultier retains the playfully provocative humor that established his reputation as the bad boy of Paris fashion. Sophie Dahl, who wore this design on the runway, was a spectacular vision, with her pale skin and blonde hair blending with the powder pink of the corset dress. The audience could not have been prepared for Gaultier’s punch line. When she turned, Ms. Dahl’s back and buttocks were visible but for the veiling of corset ribbons that crisscrossed down the gown’s back and formed its trailing hem.

This is a classic corset dress but with a twist, or, should I say, with a spin. I have kept only the front of the dress and the lacing but not the back. The back is completely bare with just the corset lacing. It is the ultimate “backless” dress.

—Jean Paul Gaultier

Comments (67)

  1. Lulu Says:

    I really like the color of the dress but the way the back was dome seems to be to revealing.

  2. Hannah Says:

    I love the dress. A bit risque but it would work look amazing in the right setting! Loved the dress!

  3. izzibella Says:

    Sometimes, i feel like throwing up.
    This dress doesn’t help…

  4. me Says:

    this is a really nice dress, i love all the ties in the back. color is ok. it is a good design.

  5. Samantha S. Says:

    My favorite in the museum collection. So what if it is a little revealing? It is sexy.

  6. Justin Says:

    I was so excited to see this at the exhibit. I remember seeing pictures of it on the runway back in 2001 and let’s just say that the pictures didn’t do it justice.

    It’s pure erotica, even if the back was lined with something it still would have the perverse undertones. The way the lacings puddle on the floor and hobble the walk is a perfect combination of fetish and romance.

  7. Kevin R Says:

    It wouldn’t be a Gautier without the inspired design of the back of the dress. It may not be the dress to wear when visiting a sick relative, but that isn’t where it was meant to be worn. It is daring, inspired, and Gautier.

  8. Anita Says:

    I’m a student in a french fashion design school in Paris, and Jean Paul Gauthier is a true master. This dress is a proof of his excellence in both prêt à porter and haute couture.

  9. natalie Says:

    i love this drees i think this is the best dress in years. i would love to wear it. i also think that it would be nice and perfect for a party. i love it !!!!<3333333333

  10. Carina Kahane Says:

    This is a brilliant dress, and if it was for sale, I’d buy it in a second! It’s totally my taste! I love the lacy back and it’s shape.

  11. Jacqueline Says:

    I love the use of ribbon on the back imagine how long it would take to put this dress on in the morning! Hee,Hee I would love to own a dress like that!

  12. Wendy Says:

    It’s a really nice, fashionable dress with this beautiful pink

  13. miranda Says:

    I Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove this dess, especialy the laced up back!

  14. John Johnson Says:

    I love this dress and I believe any era can come back. Lets just hope the 80s dont!

  15. Gabrielle Stanley Says:

    It would be so nice if the paler colour garments had a darker background. It’s so difficult to see the detail.

  16. meimi1995529 Says:

    that dress looks painful and extremely skimpy. definetley something i wouldnt want to see me or anyone else in

  17. Katie Loves Charlie -x- Says:

    What a sexy dress? I love it SO much! I really want it.


  18. 1234567 Says:

    is that see through?

  19. grace Says:

    I Luv this dress!!!!!!!!!!! It is pretty sexy classic………..!!!!!!!!
    i luv the color of the dress!!!!!!!!

    its one of the niceset pinks ive seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo……….

  20. Kami Says:

    I definitely love this dress. It looks very fresh and pink, but not too pink. I dont know about the back but the front has captured my attention. I would love to wear this to France this summer. Anyone have a couple million to spare?

  21. BBSS Says:


  22. Steph Says:

    Baby’s got to have back to wear this. It looks a bit like a very beautiful sado/masichistic frock, objectifying the woman into someone else’s fantasy or perhaps her own? Color is so feminine.

    Thank you. Love the show!

  23. satchmo Says:

    Interesting, dose it come in a size 16?

  24. Anne Says:

    Wonderful dress! The color is beautiful and the stitching is wonderful. The only worry is that you might be mistaken for a salmon because of the color. ;)

  25. Laurie Aron Says:

    I totally agree with you, Justin. I also see the contrasting back and front views not just as surprise titillation, but also as transformational–the puddling effect reminds me of legless mermaids, so it’s either a mermaid bursting her bonds, or a woman slowing transforming into a mermaid.

  26. Elsie Says:

    I love this color its so fabolous the pink is awesome!!

  27. Mae Hargrove Says:

    I love this dress. It is beautiful in soo many ways!

  28. carrro Says:

    this dress is so sexy. bad thing is it would take forever to take off ;)

  29. C Says:

    Simply swoon-inducing! Over-the-top risque and pure runway, but who cares? This isn’t a dress, it’s artwork!

  30. FZW Says:

    HOT something Dita Von Teese would wear.
    Jean Paul Gaultier is an amazing! Props

  31. Jessica Nelson-Clark Says:

    Jean Paul Gaultier is amazing as always. This dress-art is my favorite. It’s daring, elegant and wearable.

  32. m. gorin Says:

    That semen necklace is great

  33. Carina Says:

    OMG This Dress i SEXII!!!
    It’s a bit to much. but I love the back all the ribbons the color nice the shape great. I would buy it.
    Most important I would look HOTT in this

  34. Lexi Says:

    This dress is beautiful! Although I would never wear it in real life, the way it laces up really accentuates the female body. It shows how the French people arent afraid to take risks! Love it!!! <33

  35. kimberly Says:

    This dress is so pretty! I love how the ribbons tie all the way down in the back and drag on the floor.

  36. Fiona Says:

    This is the most beautiful dress ever! Talk about dress of your dreams!!!!!

  37. KELSEA Says:


  38. Lauren Says:

    Amazing back… the ulitmate backless dress… i would love to have a dress like that.. very unique!!

  39. zoe Says:

    I think that the designer went crazy, yet stayed in the guidelines of fashon, which I like. I also love that instead of having the corset in the front, the designer put it in the back. This is a masterpiece!

  40. Katie Keim Says:

    is good\

  41. CHOCOLATA Says:

    It’s a really pretty dress, but it seems so skinny, it’s like one of those dresses that a super model would shimmy into. But put me in, say, Giselle’s body with my head, and I’m all for it. I LOVE THE COLORS AND BACK!!!!! :) :) :)

  42. Long Island Pulse Magazine Says:

    This is a beautiful dress and truly a work of art. The detailing–the beading and embroidery combined with the fit and the laced back make it sexy and provacative, while remaining feminine and sophisticated. Love it.

  43. tahjanae Says:

    its very pretty

  44. Marieke Says:

    Just like a dream with that color! Love it

    (The Netherlands)

  45. Ashley Says:

    I absolutely love this dress! It’s very beautiful.

  46. Emily, Alison and Jenna. Says:

    We have decided that this is by FAR the best dress in the fashion exhibition!
    We love it so much we want it for our prom..
    It is a great figure-hugging dress which would compliment most people.

    We are doin A-level textiles, and we are soon to be reseraching the architectural aspect of dresses.


  47. ginni and kendra Says:

    we think this outfit is soooooo COOL!!!

  48. Jackie Freeman Says:

    I really like this dress. It is very femine, soft, and elegant. It is obviously a little risque, but if the dress had the same pink fabric under the lacing in the back so it didn’t reveal too much it would be completely acceptable for a red carpet event. I love the fact that the article mentioned Madonna’s cone bra outfit. It is definitely one of Jean Paul Gaultier’s more well known outfits and something that helped make Madonna even more publicized. Overall I think Jean Paul Gaultier is a fabulous designer and very inovative. Afterall this isn’t a whole lot more risque than a certain purple outfit Little Kim worn on the red carpet once!

  49. Megan Larson Says:

    This dress was shocking but I really liked it. The detail is unique with the ribbons of silk all the way down. One might expect the upper back to have such detail, but never all the way down revealing body parts.

  50. Julie Says:

    i think this dress is very pretty :]

  51. nicole Says:

    prom 08?

  52. BRiiZZY Says:

    that dress is kinda fancy but it has a good look and i love pink anyways. =]

  53. liz Says:

    I love the design that this designer made. You are able to wear it is a summer dress,and also in the winter with a shoul over it. It is very bright color to be seen with. The fabric that the designer chose is a very good choice. The ribbon hanging under the dress makes it very differnt from other dresses. This is one of my favorite dresses.

  54. May Says:

    I LOVE this dress. It is so beautifully made. I would cherish this dress forever if I owned it. It has so much personality (if clothes have personalities) and I love the corset based top and the laced back.


    This is the most fascintating dress on exhibit. It just screams Gaultier, soo risque’.

  56. lauren Says:

    I love this dress! i would definetly wear this dress! I also love the color!! Enjoy! If I could go back in time, i would wear this dress!!! :)

  57. missmamei Says:

    This dress is unbelieveable, a true work of art

  58. xandra Says:

    THIS IS STUNNING!!!! its really amazing i could imagine a person on the red carpet wearing it

  59. felicia Says:

    i swear my great grandma has this dress! well maybe not exactlyh like it but it is really close

  60. fashionista Says:

    I think that all of them are really cool at first they look a little wierd but after a while you realize that thats just the way people dress and theres nothing wrong with that some of them I would love to wear!

  61. KarenW Says:

    Gaultier is renowned for his corsets that redesign the female body and accent the vivacious curves that the female body has to offer. He has succeeded once again by producing an aesthetically pleasing evening dress that catches the viewers attention through exploration of the female form. The dominant, horizontal lines on the backside of the garment lengthen the body as the eye travels up and down. Because the ribbons allow the dress to fasten to the shape of the body, the curves that attract attention and soften an area become apparent and unavoidable. The copious ribbons imply texture without even having to touch the dress. Furthermore, Gaultier utilizes pink silk satin. The color pink has a deeper meaning assigning romance, love, and friendship to the dress, and denoting feminine qualities and passion. Gaultier has brought awareness to the design elements that make art what it is. For this reason he will continue to thrive amongst the masters of design.

  62. Abby Says:

    I loved the color of this dress… the ties in the back, though were a litte to reavealing but stilll it’s an amazing dress!

  63. merdogg Says:

    can i borrow this?

  64. annulla Says:

    Stunning garment, delicate and steely — if only the Met had exhibited it in a way that allowed us to see more than a glimpse of the back.

  65. annie Says:

    Very unique and great idea who ever thought of it. There’s tons of color.
    I’ve never seen anything like it before.

  66. Bill Says:

    I am not a fashion person…

    But this is gorgeous.

  67. Giselle Says:

    the most beautiful dress in the entire exhibit! <3

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