If you're looking for something outside the box to dress up as this Halloween, then how about Madonna in a Jean Paul Gaultier corset from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour? And by that, we mean the real deal, not some tragic DIY attempt made out of Pringles cans and duct tape.
Today, Jean Paul Gaultier brought up the virtual shutters on its new online store, complete with vintage and rental archive sections. With the nostalgia economy booming and the French house openly courting younger consumers, the move to do so hardly comes as a shock. In August, an annual report by The RealReal revealed how Gen Z continued to be the driving force behind luxury resale, while the Lyst's 2021 conscious fashion report revealed how the TikTok hashtag #deadstock had generated over 9.5 million views. Old, storied, and hard to find + good for the planet = cool.
For brands, it's a question of how do they take back control. It's not just marketplaces that have been booming, but even Instagram accounts such as Silver League. We've already seen the likes of Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren partner with Vestiaire Collective and Depop, while Gucci was an early mover, first teaming up with the RealReal before opening up the Vault project.
I had a mess about on the new website this morning, and although I couldn't find any rental stuff (perhaps the line-up isn't finalized yet, meaning you'll have to put that Madonna costume on ice until next year), I had a blast looking at the customized, one-of-one, vintage perfecto jackets made in collaboration with Schott. Priced at nearly three grand a pop (!), at the time of writing, nearly all of the pieces have sold out, including one that has literally been painted with the words "PLEASE FUCK ME" on the reverse side. I see your dad is taking the divorce well, etc.
Jean Paul Gaultier going all Sid Vicious aesthetic on us is hardly original, but the framing of it is. The jackets are basically edited samples, almost in a way that kind of feels like "nu-vintage." As Vogue's Luke Leitch said of the Gucci Vault project: "Gucci is not only making moves to own its resale market, but by customizing the items before reselling them it is creating a new category of objects that are simultaneously vintage and new.” That is much the same case here, albeit I'm not convinced some toff's designer perfecto is really any cooler than the broke fashion student who found one in a thrift store and painted it themselves. Still, it beats bringing new clothes into an already burning world just for the sake of it.
Despite that, I can see the venture proving popular among a certain crowd. I particularly like how it is genderless. “The idea is to renew, to surprise the customer and to give them the opportunity to wear different pieces of Jean Paul Gaultier that they will not be able to buy simply because they don’t exist," explained Jean Paul Gaultier's managing director Antoine Gagey to WWD.
Old-school Jean Paul Gaultier has been bubbling among hip kids for a minute, which can be attributed to myriad things: the Kim K and Lil Uzi Vert effect; Supreme; Chitose Abe; and Instagram fashion Hunger Games, where those weaned on a diet of Grailed and Vestiare Collective are constantly trying to one-up each other by finding the most esoteric garb possible. It's fair to say the final reason rings more appropriate than the rest, particularly considering the similar rise in demand for '90s and '00s stalwarts such as Versace, Tom Ford's Gucci, and John Galliano's Dior.
For a lot of people, fashion is all about providing a glimpse into the future, but clearly just as many want to go back to the past. How long they want to stay there remains to be seen.