Agnès Buzyn, the French Health Minister, is fighting fiercely against tobacco addiction. And although she recently declared that smoking is “has been,” the creator Jean-Paul Gaulthier doesn’t seem to agree. In fact, on the same day, he released his new collection, largely inspired by cigarettes and vaping.
We already knew that the fashion icon was a fan of transgression, but he’s further proven this with his latest line of clothing. Unveiled with the famous “Cigarette” of Jacques Higelin, the tone of this collection is immediately noticeable. The vaporous dresses, evoking cigarette smoke, work in tandem with projected images on curtains of smoke.
Gaulthier hasn’t stopped at clothing either. His models used accessories including a pipe, a cigarette holder and even an e-cigarette, surprising and even upsetting fervent anti-tobacco activists.
Freedom of expression wins again
Jean-Paul Gaulthier has a way of pushing boundaries without ever breaking them. By using the theme of the smoking jacket as a central element of his collection, he is engaging in not-so subtle wordplay. Nonetheless, Gaulthier uses “no smoking” signs on some of his creations, playing with the ambivalence between smoking and current trends in tobacco alternatives.
This is not the first time that Gaulthier has had to defend the ideas behind his creations. His “free the nipples” bras, for example, exposed the breasts of his models. The creator’s main goal is to defend each individual’s right to express him or herself (for example, allowing people to decide whether or not to wear the controversial bra). For the current collection, Gaulthier invites people to decide whether or not smoking is for them.
In a climate that continues to attack the tobacco industry, Gaulthier’s collection has become a talking point. Nonetheless, the fashion icon is known for being politically incorrect, and this should not come as a surprise. Indeed, art goes beyond questions of politics.