Yesterday morning, Jean Paul Gaultier's official Instagram removed its profile picture. The bio description was amended to read “The end of an era.” Meanwhile, a cryptic post with the words "The End" in bold font alongside the brand's logo was uploaded to the couturier’s account.
The irreverent French designer announced his retirement in January last year. He did, however, assure fans that his eponymous label would remain, albeit with a new concept. Taking to Twitter he announced, “Each season, I will invite a designer to interpret the codes of the House and I am doubly pleased that Chitose Abe of @sacaiofficial will be the first one!”
Abe is scheduled to present her on-off collection at the Paris couture shows in July. In a statement she said, “I have a long-held admiration for Jean Paul’s unique vision of subversive femininity and his originality, both of which I’ve strived towards in my work since the beginning. It’s a true honour to be given the opportunity to be custodian of his house as the first designer of this project.”
Given the momentum around Abe's forthcoming Couture show, it's unlikely "The End" means JPG is shuttering for good. Instead, it's probably a purposefully ambiguous handing over of the reins, designed to generate buzz ahead of Couture Week in July, which will also see the debut of Demna Gvasalia's first couture collection for Balenciaga as well.
High Fashion Talk director Iolo Edwards noted, “Along with the announcement there have been complaints that brands are acting like middle schoolers dramatically leaving and returning to social media, referencing Bottega Veneta’s decision.”
Bottega Veneta divested from social media in January, replacing social posts with a quarterly online magazine. Designer Daniel Lee said he hoped the move would offer “more progressive and more thoughtful” content than scrolling through Instagram.
Jean Paul Gaultier's label has yet to confirm whether the recent Instagram activity indicates a similar move away from social media, the introduction of a new creative leadership or, the end of the label altogether.