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Design: Making Business Values Visible Through Identity

Gaultier 7

William Baker, Kylie Minogue, Virgins (or Madonnas) collection, Immaculata gown, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute couture, spring – summer 2007, net lace dress with large patterned embroidery and white linen cut-outs © William Baker courtesy National Gallery Victoria

Design is at the heart of an unprecedented explosion of creativity, with a company and its purpose, values, mission and strategies made visible through identity

A current example of a company identity making strategies visible, where its creative founder is still an active aspect of its growth progress, is that of fashion leader creator Jean Paul Gaultier.

In Melbourne a landmark exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that plots his own evolution from the sidewalk to the catwalk is currently on show. It reflects a great deal about the art attached to establishing design principles for both personal and professional life. In his case they are inseparable.

Any business and its purpose is made visible through design and behaviour; the people, the communication, the strategies, the philosophy and the product.

The identity cannot simply be a slogan or a collection of phrases; it must be visible, tangible and all embracing.  It must represent consistent standards of quality and in that way encourage the consumer to indulge and participate while building their loyalty.

The visual style of any organisation affects it’s positioning in the market and its corporate purpose really must be backed up by the behaviour of its people on ever level.

businesswoman in officeTo be really successful, a design philosophy must be integral to every aspect of who and what a company is about and what it represents. Above all it must be honest and have a focus on integrity.

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Jean Paul Gaultier – Creating a Design Philosophy for Life


Peter Lindbergh, Jean Paul Gaultier, 2005, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

There is much more to bon vivant Parisian born creative and couturier Jean Paul Gaultier the man than meets the eye.

For those used to thinking fashion as being only about fun and frivolity, he stands in direct contrast, because in so many ways he is about so much more.

Jean Paul Gaultier is an artisan creator, one safeguarded, supported and well respected for both his erudition and imagination.

He’s one of those rare guides in our world today who is taking us on a journey, one that will eventually far exceed our expectations as well as our current sense of ‘culture’. It is a world in which all our senses will be brought into play as outmoded ideas are left behind.

Tony Ellwood, Director, National Gallery Victoria, where his exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier – From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is on show noted “Jean Paul Gaultier’s radical designs break down stereotypes and clichés, questioning preconceived standards of beauty and challenging societal, gender and aesthetic ‘norms’… a world that extends beyond the catwalk into the realms of art, music and film” he said.

Fashion for Monsieur Gaultier is not only integral to his life’s journey but also the most important aspect of his personal philosophy about living his life as, and through art.

JPG & Thierry

An animated Jean Paul Gaultier in conversation with Thierry-Maxime Loriot, on stage at the NGV, October 2014, photo: Jo Bayley, The Culture Concept Circle

A deep thinker on many levels, intellectually, spiritually and philosophically, it became obvious to me while listening to him speak to the gathered hushed audience at the NGV so eloquently, that he has strong values and humanist ideals.

These are deeply embedded in his vision for what life was, what life is and what life can be.

He clearly demonstrated he is a true leader; courteous, giving, interested, someone who offers new options, other ways of doing things, and importantly empowers others to transform right along with him.

Proof was provided by the presence of Nathalie Bondil, who had flown in from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) being Chief Curator of the original exhibition that took place in 2011, organised around seven themes .


William Baker, Kylie Minogue X Tour 2009 for Numéro magazine Médée gown, The Surrealists collection, haute couture autumn–winter 2006–2007, amethyst muslin and organza anatomical dress with rib-cage effect, courtesy The National Gallery of Victoria

These trace the ‘influences, passions and obsessions of Jean Paul Gaultier from the streets of Paris to the world beyond’ revealing both his energy and considerable creative abilities.

Taking to the stage at the NGV, Ms Bondil charmed, captivated and gave us a realistic and flattering portrait of a man she so clearly admires. She talked with real warmth, wit, charm and with great clarity about the unique, unrivaled designer she has worked with, as have his muses Australian and otherwise, those people who have helped realize his vision. She offered a unique insight into the production and staging of what is a truly dynamic display, one which brings audio-visual elements into play through talking models.

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