As we are about to enter 2011 Fall Fashion Week, and I have all things fashion on the brain, I can’t help but think back to 1993 when Jean Paul Gaultier stunned the world with a collection inspired by traditional Hasidic dress. I remember going up to the penthouse level of the old Barneys (before they moved to their current midtown location) where Gaultier was one of the designer’s that had his own little room, then bumping into this collection. I didn’t seek it out, and I didn’t know about it in advance, but I was floored by his chutzpah. He made me think.
There was a ton of controversy about the collection, much of it from the Hasidic community itself. Funny enough, the community was less outraged by the actual inspiration. Rather, the Hasidic men were outraged that Gaultier had women wear outfits that ONLY MEN traditionally are able to don.
Regardless, Gaultier has spent a lifetime blurring the boundaries between fashion and art and the fact that 18 years later I still remember this “ah-ha” moment on the Penthouse level of Barneys, inspires my own content-driven design work today. May the fashion world cultivate many more Gaultiers, many more Alexander McQueens, many more Martin Margielas, and many more icons. Fashion that has something to say is as powerful as any art hanging on a wall.
Have a great Fashion Week, gang. Can’t wait to see what’s out there!