For all the beauty and fantasy found in his collections, Gaultier is intensely aware of what’s happening around him socially, culturally, and even politically. In 1997 he decided to dedicate his Autumn/Winter 1997-98 collection to black culture as a homage to Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba. The collection would be shown entirely on black models. As it so happened, that same year the French government was passing a law to limit immigration, so what had begun as an artistic decision by Gaultier had, by show time, become a political statement. Gaultier has said himself that, "Being homosexual, I think about minorities a lot. There are times when you must take a position. Individuals always feel venerable and want to hide. But that is never the way. You can’t be frightened and run away. Our everyday life is the fruit of politics and the only way to make it work is by getting together and fighting."
Clockwise: In 1997 Jean Paul Gaultier presented his first haute couture collection under the Gaultier Paris label, and he called upon his friend and muse Farida Khelfa to become the directrice of his couture studio. Khelfa with Catherine Deneuve and Gaultier, wearing one of the designer’s variations on the trench coat from his Spring 2002 couture collection, pictured on model Hannelore Knutz below; Looks from Gaultier’s Spring 2002 couture collection, which also featured a mix of ethnically diverse and seasoned models that included Ines de la Fressange, Julia Schonberg and Teresa Lourenco; Farida modeling Gaultier’s Barbarella inspired "Forbidden Gaultier" Fall 1987-88 collection.
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