Jean-Paul Gaultier to retire as fashion designer

Gaultier takes to the catwalk to thank the audience during Paris Fashion Week, in July 2018.
Gaultier takes to the catwalk to thank the audience during Paris Fashion Week, in July 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (AFP) - French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier said on Friday (Jan 17) that his next Paris haute couture fashion show will be his last.

The flamboyant creator said he would be bowing out on Wednesday with a big party to mark his 50 years in the business after his latest collection hits the catwalk.

His brand told AFP that his high-end fashion and perfume business would live on, but that Gaultier was stepping back from designing clothes himself.

"Rest assured haute couture will continue with a new concept," said the designer, who famously put Madonna in a conical bra.

Gaultier dropped the bombshell in a typically jokey video message, shot as if he was giving an exclusive interview to a reporter over the phone.

Reclining on a chaise longue, he whispered, "Now I am going to give you a scoop. It will be my last couture show. You have to come, you can't miss that... but, but, but, I assure you, Gaultier Paris will go on, the haute couture will continue.

"I have a new concept. I will tell you about it later, all the little secrets. To be continued! Kisses, kisses."

Gaultier, 67, stopped designing ready-to-wear clothes in 2015 to concentrate on haute couture - handmade clothes which only the world's richest women can afford.

But as late as last year he insisted that he had no intention of putting down his scissors - although he despaired of animal rights activists pressuring him to stop using furs.

A teenage prodigy, who rose to fame in the 1980s when the Paris fashion scene was at its most decadent, Gaultier also carved out a parallel television career as the co-presenter of a cheeky series, Eurotrash.

In 2018, he staged his own hit cabaret show based loosely on his life story called Fashion Freak Show, which opened at the Folie Bergere in Paris.

A spokeswoman for his brand told AFP that the designer would be back, but like the veteran Japanese creator Kenzo - who has moved into interior design - it would be in other areas.