Beginning his career in 1970 at Pierre Cardin and later working at Jean Patou, Jean Paul Gaultier launched his own label in 1976. In a move characteristic of his position in French fashion as something of an enfant terrible, in 1997 Jean-Paul Gaultier entered the world of haute couture. A seemingly anachronistic move from Gaultier who had become known for his street and pop culture-influenced ready-to-wear, Gaultier launched his haute couture at a time when its relevance and longevity was being heavily scrutinised. Providing an outlet for Gaultier's love of performance and exoticism, the line has become known for the rich characters and fabrics seen on its catwalk with shows often featuring models varied in age and figure.
As well as his infamous designs for Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition tour, which introduced the iconic conical bra to the world, Gaultier has also designed costumes for a number of theatre and film productions including The Cook, The Thief, his Wife and her Lover in 1989 and The Fifth Element in 1997. In 2001, Gaultier was awarded the Chevalier à l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur -one of France's highest honours- and two years later became creative director of Hermes: a position he held for seven years. Alongside its haute couture and ready-to-wear for men and women, the Jean Paul Gaultier brand now includes jeans, accessories, eyewear, jewellery, umbrellas, scarves, ties and shoes.