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Kylie Minogue and Jean Paul Gaultier on a partnership that still pushes boundaries
By SP_COP on October 22, 2014 | From
Kylie Minogue and Jean Paul Gaultier on a partnership that still pushes boundaries They are an odd match, these two; from opposite sides of the planet, polar ends of popular culture. He the controversial iconoclast, she the girly pop-star. She the "singing budgie", he the designer "enfant terrible" with a penchant for the perverse. Even her name, the plucky, Aussie "Kylie", sits awry with the lush, mouth-filling Frenchness of "Jean Paul". But Kylie Minogue and Jean Paul Gaultier are indeed a match despite the apparent cultural canyon between them.

"He is warm, funny, adorable," Minogue says. "She is a wonderful human being," Gaultier says. The honey runs faster when I ask, in separate interviews, what they admire in each other. Both wax lyrical. Both list patience – a mutual virtue in many long, tedious hours of pin-pull-it-all-apart-and-start-again collaborations on Minogue's concert tour (including her current Kiss Me Once tour) and album cover (the operatic Aphrodite) costumes at Gaultier's Paris atelier. And both mention humour. Forty years of catwalk shocks, of seeding social revolutions with his evocative haute couture, scoring joyous praise for one season, flack for the next, and Gaultier's renown as a relentlessly jolly fellow is still intact. With the equally upbeat and "genuinely nice" Minogue, he says, he has shared a lot of laughs since they met in the early 1990s, "when she used to date one of my friends".

Minogue was already "a fan and admirer" when she met Gaultier in Paris and today, of all his muses, he picks her to partner in Spectrum's exclusive cover portrait, shot recently in his home town. (She dropped a tight rehearsal schedule for Kiss Me Once to pose with her "dear friend".) And, it is Minogue behind the guipure lace mask and gown, "Immaculata" from Gaultier's spring/summer 2007 haute couture "Virgins" collection, shot by William Baker and pitched large on The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition poster hung two storeys high on the National Gallery of Victoria's facade.

"She has perfect proportions so making clothes for her is a pleasure and she is very patient during the fittings," he says. "She gave me just a couple of words for each costume and left me complete freedom to design. It is a pleasure to work like that."

Minogue says of their collaborations: "Jean Paul knows what he is doing but he is not adverse to me saying what I think would help for my outfits. I believe that if a designer truly understands how to work with a performer then they cannot impose their designs on the artist. It has to be a partnership to be a success ... These costumes need to speak volumes on stage, in photographs and be able to withstand the rigours of touring."

Minogue is one of seven women named in this exhibition as Gaultier's Australian muses, his inspirational "daughters of Zeus": the others are actresses Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett, and international models Alexandra Agoston, Gemma Ward, Catherine McNeil and Andreja Pejic. "In order to create, I need the energy of the women around me," Gaultier once confided to fashion historian Florence Muller; "To observe their gestures, their stance, the way they put a hand on their hip can show me where to place a pocket."...
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