“In every collection I have done, there is always an Indian inspiration,” says Jean-Paul Gaultier, who has been amassing a vast library of intensely colored textile swatches since his first visit to Calcutta and Puri in the 1970’s. For his Hermès spring/summer runway show, Gaultier sent models out against a backdrop of cascading red pigment reminiscent of the handfuls of colored powder Indians toss in the air during the Hindu festival of Holi. But this was not a folkloric collection: there were subdued sari gowns with metallic detailing, soft turbans in lambskin, and jodhpurs made of alligator skin. “What could be more Hermès?” asks Gaultier.
Though the holy city of Varanasi, with its temples and masses of Hindu pilgrims, is Gaultier’s most cherished place, he finds something to love everywhere he goes in India, from the latticed woodwork on the Portuguese colonial houses in Goa to the Kama Sutra carvings on the Konark Sun Temple outside of Puri. “Even Calcutta, which at first I found gray and oppressive, I have come to find really beautiful,” he says.
“I am as inspired by an incredible landscape as I am by the stunning faces of Indian women and their colorful clothes,” Gaultier continues. “Color is life.
Gaultier’s Top Spots
“The onscreen show is second only to the one going on offscreen—the audience cries, laughs, and dances along with the film.” Colaba; 91-22/2202-1017
“A great source for my archive. I buy antique silks and embroidered fabrics.” Mutton St.
“This is the most surreal place I have ever seen. Every step you take you are surprised.”
“The temples of Puri are so graphic. I feel like Alice in Wonderland there.”