Beloved Parisian designer Jean Paul Gaultier announced ealier today that he would be ending production of his signature men's and women's prêt à porter and accessory collections after the Spring 2015 season. Though "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier" an acclaimed retrospective of his work recently seen at the Brooklyn Museum, continues to tour museums all over the world, the designer's actual clothing business is barely profitable and has diminished in recent years, no longer commanding the robust retail following enjoyed during the designer's heyday from the 1980s through the early 2000's. The shutdown will only affect a few dozen employees, but it will be a bigger blow to its licensee Gibò. Gaultier is not retiring, however, and will continue to produce his haute couture collections, which remain financially viable, as well as special projects including stage costumes for performers like Madonna and Kylie Minogue and collaborations such as one about to launch with Scandinavian fashion chain Lindex (pictured at left). Gautier's most profitable division is fragrance, which is likely what attracted the company's current owner, the Spanish based Puig, to take out majority stake three years ago. Gaultier's fragrance licensees expire in in 2016, which will allow Puig's own beauty division to take full control of the products.
In a statement to WWD, Gaultier noted the increasing pace and constraints of the ready-to-wear business as stifling to his creativity which he is still able to express in haute couture. “After more than 38 years spent producing men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections, it seems to us that the time has come to stop some of our activities and to concentrate principally on the development of the haute couture, of perfumes and to certain collaborations that I have not yet had time to explore,” he adds. “This is a new beginning, I will be able to express again my creativity fully and without constraints.”
The Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris later this month will now be something of a farewell, in part, at least. We wonder if some of the stores that have let the Gaultier collection go in recent years might not pick it up for one last fling next Spring.