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Q&A: Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier, 61, was born in a suburb of Paris. Having sent his drawings to 27 fashion houses, on his 18th birthday he was hired by Pierre Cardin. His first catwalk shows in the 1970s saw him dubbed by the press as fashion’s enfant terrible. In the 1980s he dressed men in skirts and in 1990 designed Madonna’s conical bra and corsets for her Blond Ambition World Tour. He went on to make costumes for Kylie Minogue, to create pieces for Pedro Almodóvar‘s films and to dress actor Nicole Kidman and singer Rihanna. An exhibition, The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier: From The Sidewalk To The Catwalk, runs at the Barbican until 25 August.

What is your earliest memory?
My teddy bear, Nana. I was three and in hospital with typhoid fever when I got him as a present. I loved him immediately. I dressed him as a bride for the wedding of Queen Fabiola, performed open-heart surgery on him at the same time as Professor Barnard [who did the first successful human heart transplant], and he had the cone bra way before Madonna.

What would your super power be?
To be able to bring back to life people I love.

What makes you unhappy?
Eating badly.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
There’s so much to choose from. Who would play you in the film of your life?
Marlon Brando, if he were alive.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Not waiting in line and stealing someone else’s taxi, which is very French.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Visiting my mistress incognito on a scooter wearing a helmet.

What is your favourite smell?
Bacon and eggs in the morning.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
I once went to a party dressed as a French maid.

Cat or dog?

What do you owe your parents?

What or who is the love of your life?

What does love feel like?
We realise what it’s like only once it’s over.

What was the best kiss of your life?
“I kissed a girl and I liked it.”

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?

Which living person do you most despise?
Politicians in general.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To when I was younger.

When did you last cry?
Peeling onions.

How do you relax?
Watching stupid TV shows, which means most of French TV.

How often do you have sex?
Never enough.

What is the closest time you’ve come to death?
When I had typhoid fever.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
To live my childhood dream and to do what I dreamed of doing.

What keeps you awake at night?
When there is someone attractive in my bed.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
David Bowie’s Fashion.

Tell us a secret
Nothing I’ve said is true.

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