Why Jean Paul Gaultier is obsessed with the sari Advertisement

Why Jean Paul Gaultier is obsessed with the sari

The celebrated Indophile gushes over his favourite muse

By Divya Gursahani  November 14th, 2017

ELLE: What about the sari inspires you to recreate it in new ways?

Jean Paul Gaultier: I have always been attracted to the beauty of traditional clothes; whether it is the kimono in Japan, the sari in India, or the Breton headdress in France. Embracing tradition makes us stronger. I have taken the cherished garment and created something new… something that offers a new expression, while respecting its original form.

ELLE: How did the connection between winter wear and the sari come about in your F/W 2017-18 collection?

JPG: I imagined a woman who travelled around the world and had lost track of the seasons—she could very well have found herself in Gstaad, wearing a sari. With global warming, seasons do not have the same meaning any more. It can be 20°C in winter and there can be snow in summer. The inspiration comes from the sari, but my reinventions are not literal. For instance, I have wool and cashmere versions [of the sari] in grey and black—not something that you would find in a traditional sari.

sari collage 1

ELLE: As a Frenchman, how do you view the sari?

JPG: With awe and admiration. The drape, the colours and the fabrics… saris have made me dream since my first trip to India, when I was barely 20. Indian women look royal in saris: it lends them greater beauty. As an outfit, it is extremely generous; it blends well with all shapes.

ELLE: The sheer black sari-inspired ensemble worn by model Vanessa Axente is said to be the starting point of your collection. Tell us more.

JPG: If you look at the print, it’s Paris in the snow, and the transparent tulle takes the form of a sari over an evening gown. I have reimagined an Indian woman in Paris, in winter. And then I thought about winter sports and mountains; little by little, there were wool saris in the show.

ELLE: Which is your favourite recreation of the sari, among shows past and present?

JPG: All of them! I cannot choose between my children.  

sari collage