And So The Cone Bra By Jean-Paul Gaultier Became Iconic

Jean-Paul Gaultier was once a young boy in Bagneux, France who looked at his era through a set of generous, visionary eyes. Then Jean-Paul became Gaultier: a talented technician of cuts, an audacious colorist, capable of conceiving pieces as insolent as they are desirable. He created his classics by starting from a repertoire of insolence. Through his characters – heartthrobs and rasta men – he was one of the rare few to rectify France’s lost cosmopolitan spirit. “My grandmother told me tons of stories about corsets. For example, how, at the turn of the century, women bated their breath while it was getting tied by drinking vinegar.” As a child, he was fascinated by the corset’s démodé charm. It was in winter 1984 in a collection dubbed Barbès that his first cone bra appeared. The piece was like an homage, or rather a reference, to his childhood memories. When he was designing the object, perhaps Jean-Paul Gaultier also recalled the conical cardboard breasts he gave his teddy bear Nana. But make no mistake, Jean-Paul Gaultier revered fashion and with it, its history: this first cone bra made reference to Yves Saint Laurent’s African collection in 1967, where the conical breasts of certain silhouettes were a reference to Bambara art. And then along came Madonna. One fateful night in 1983, Jean-Paul Gaultier saw Madonna sing “Holiday” on Top of the Pops: it was a revelation. The Material Girl became the couturier’s muse who dreamed of dressing his idol ever since. Seven years later, the dream came true. The iconic nature of this piece wasn’t lost on Madonna, who’d already spotted it in 1984. In 1990, Madge embarked on her Blond Ambition Tour. In that same year, the Queen of Pop naturally called out to him to conceive the costumes for her world tour. She ordered a stage outfit with an identical chest component. Erotic and esoteric, they completed each other, projecting themselves into one another. “I love Madonna. She’s the only woman I ever asked to marry me. She said no, of course, but every time she asks me to work on her shows, I can’t say no.” Gaultier is still delighted to tell the tale. In this corset that holds the breasts in pointed suspense, the couturier projects a femininity tinged with a humor-filled aggressiveness. While velvet evokes the couture world, the conical breasts are imbued with the glamour of the 50s pushed to an absurd and uplifting degree. The curves are highlighted, the underside outstrips the topside, and, with sophisticated seduction, the feminine attributes are torn out of the confines of bourgeoisie aesthetics. In his sassy corsets, the woman is liberated; sensual, cool, and sexy, she transforms into a dominating Amazonian. Sure to produce a provocative effect. It’s without a doubt this brilliant mixture of retro and contemporary that made it the iconic piece it is today. A silhouette recognizable among the rest, since become, all clichés aside, the emblem of an era.

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