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Jean Paul Gaultier On Sugar, Couture & Turkeys

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Jean Paul Gaultier is known for his edgier side -- for the famous conical bras, for the gender-bending model casting and for telling Carla Bruni, "My favorite piece of clothing is the condom."

But in a feature by Susan Orlean in this week's New Yorker, the French designer comes across as rather impish and cute. Turns out Gaultier is quite the sugar addict (says his communications director, Jelka Music, "Jean Paul’s favorite thing in the world is sugar... No, no, that’s not true. Couture first, sugar second").

Gaultier is also quite playful, which is clear from his designs as well as his Christmas gifts:

...which reminded him of the year that he bought a lot of live turkeys to give as Christmas gifts. “They made a huge destruction at the office,” he said. “They were . . . huge!” He laughed at the memory, and then added that the turkey-gift idea had come to him when he was still very much the enfant terrible—outrageous gifts of poultry were, evidently, part of the job. But he had not given the birds just for the sake of being outrageous; he thinks that they are beautiful, and he admires their natural instinct for strutting like models.

Models as graceful turkeys is not a metaphor we'd previously contemplated, but somehow we're not surprised that Gaultier has.

In the New Yorker profile, Gaultier also gets serious and talks about the opportunity he once has to take the top spot at Givenchy -- although what he wanted was Dior:

Gaultier thought that perhaps he would go to Dior, which was looking for a new head couturier. But Arnault wanted John Galliano, who had been a success at Givenchy, where he had spent the previous year, to take over Dior, and, according to Gaultier, Arnault wanted him to take Galliano’s place at Givenchy. Gaultier was dismayed. "I thought Givenchy was very bourgeois," he said. "I loved Saint Laurent, Dior, Cardin. Givenchy was not a dream of mine. So I told Mr. Arnault no, I was not dreaming of Givenchy."

So what he did instead, Susan Orlean writes, was open his own couture house in 1997. Nicole Kidman bought one of the very first pieces and the rest, as they say, is history.

For more of Jean Paul Gaultier's story, click to NewYorker.com.

WATCH Gaultier's most recent runway show below:

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