Gaultier’s Beautiful Mesh Obsession

In 1993 pierced, blonde model smoking a blunt appears on the Spring/Summer 1994 runway wearing a mesh tattoo top, marking the beginning of a wonderful era of popularising mesh fabrics in fashion. Almost 20 years later, that exact piece is being sold for hundreds of dollars and is considered one of the greatest symbols of 90s fashion. The SS94 Collection was full of cultural references, drawing inspiration from various ethnic groups like African Maaisai tribe or Indian communities. With his collection filled to the brim with full-print mesh tops depicting spiritual beliefs of certain groups as well as painted landscapes and abstract patterns, Jean Paul Gaultier made these garments a walking medium of history and art.

 Gaultier’s mesh pieces then reappeared on the runway consistently in different shapes and forms - sometimes as evening gowns, sometimes as men’s apparel like turtlenecks, yet his mesh long-sleeved tops are the ones that fashion enthusiasts tend to love the most and they simply never go out of style. The garments often depict historical characters or works of art such as the one with a painted portrait of Saint Agatha or Mona Lisa. Other times, they’re just imprinted with remarkable works by unknown artists or some graphic shapes and forms.

 Besides using an actual mesh fabric, Gaultier often played with nudity, for example by creating an illusion of a naked body by manipulating the print on the garment. In the Fall/Winter 1995 Collection we can spot multiple looks imprinted with cyber-dots in a way that played with viewer’s mind and made them perceive the piece as if it was see-through, showing off model’s naked body and underwear underneath. It’s also quite common to be able to spot a bare nipple here and there on designer’s runways, even on the couture ones. 

 Jean Paul Gaultier is a designer that was never afraid of showing one’s nudity and embracing bodies in all forms and shapes they come in. His openness and willingness to show as much body as possible, even if it meant having to make a garment see-through, was and will always be one of his trademarks.

Written by Julia Siechowicz

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