“Jean Paul Gaultier’s name was like GOD!” enthuses Sandra Choi, creative director of Jimmy Choo, of the trailblazing Parisian couturier’s reputation while she was studying at fashion school in London. “He was so timeless and daring in the way he treated identity and empowerment.”
Consider it a strike of divine intervention then, that the British shoe brand has now teamed up with the provocateur of French fashion on a footwear collection that brings together the house codes of both labels. Think: a sharply-pointed and tongue-in-cheek profusion of tattoo print, perspex and printed denim – fronted by none other than eternal pop princess, Kylie Minogue.
For the creative director of Jean Paul Gaultier Florence Tétier, who was appointed in 2021 to the role she views as a “duty to keep Jean Paul Gaultier’s legacy alive and well”, inspiration came from finding the perfect pair of shoes to complete the JPG silhouette. “It was about bringing the final touch to our woman,” she says. In September, Jean Paul Gaultier unveiled a collaboration with KNWLS – viral catnip for It-girls like Bella Hadid, Rosalía and Kylie Jenner, who bow down to both brands – and the maison has also unveiled haute couture collections with Sacai and Y/Project, with Simone Rocha’s en route. “It was the perfect time to talk about icons,” she adds.
Choi and Tétier found a shared affinity in the confidence they draw from a Jimmy Choo heel or Jean Paul Gaultier print. Choi equates the liberated feeling of clubbing in Gaultier’s ’90s concealing-yet-revealing tattoo prints (inspired for spring/summer 1994 by a UK tattoo convention), to “wearing high heeled shoes”. Tétier concurs: “It’s about the way you walk in your body.”
The collection draws on tattoo motifs, corsetry details, witty trompe-l’œil effects and fabric innovation: killer-heeled lace-up slingbacks, metallic mules dripping with chain hardware, crystal-swathed kitten heels, fold-over denim boots in what Choi terms “the perfect wash”, and clear perspex wedges embedded with tiny sculptures of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben – a cheeky nod to the Anglo-French nature of the collaboration. “It’s a big deal when a London and a Parisian brand come together!” Choi smiles. She and Tétier revelled in the craftsmanship the collection encouraged. The perspex heel and boots fashioned in printed denim are firsts. “There’s an extra dose of braveness in the collaboration,” she adds.
As for their chosen campaign star? “The third icon arrived!” Tétier declares. Minogue has a long history with both brands. Choi has been creating custom shoes for Kylie for more than three decades, and the star has worn countless Jean Paul Gaultier looks on stage. In 2008, Gaultier created a range of looks for Kylie’s tour wardrobe, including a purple “skeleton” dress from his autumn/winter 2006-2007 haute couture collection. To Choi, Jean Paul Gaultier may be a divine force, but these are pieces we will all bow down to.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.