Born in Arcueil, France, in 1952. Gaultier had an interest in and design from a very young age. He never received any formal design training, yet at the age of just 14 he began sending sketches of his ideas to famous fashion houses, and Pierre Cardin was so impressed by his ability that on Gaultier’s birthday, the 24th of April, he was hired as Cardin’s assistant.
Gaultier went on to work for such fashion houses as Jean Patou and Jacques Esterel, before returning to Pierre Cardin to take care of his Phillipines store.
He started his own couture firm in 1977, creating twice-yearly collections of womenswear. His Haute Couture collections are very formal yet at the same time unusual and playful, whereas his streetwear collections are based on popular culture, both are characterised by Gaultier’s own wry sense of humour. In 1984 Gaultier achieved recognition worldwide with his men's collection "men in skirts", inspired by Brigitte Bardot's famous film "God Created Woman".
Gaultier won the French fashion Oscar award in 1987, and went on to launch his jewellery and perfume lines.
He is also well-known for designing costumes for performers such as Marilyn Manson and Kylie Minogue, the conical corsets and bras that he created for Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition concert tour have become iconic. Gaultier has always been interested in experimenting with gender roles through his work, and caused controversy by using models with an unconventional look for his shows.
Besides his ready-to-wear collection, his labels include his unisex collection, JPG by Gaultier, and the childswear line Junior Gaultier, which was completed with a line in baby clothing in 2011. Gaultier has enjoyed great success thanks to his haute couture collection, through which he was able to showcase the full range of his ability. As a result of this, Hermès hired Gaultier as creative director from 2003 to 2010, as well as taking a 45% stake in the Jean Paul Gaultier brand.