Photography Students Put Subversive Lens on Jean Paul Gaultier Perfumes

FRAGRANCE FOLLIES: The perfume bottles are smushed into jelly salads, shoved into underwear and cradled in various nether regions.

It makes for a provocative exhibition at Jean Paul Gaultier’s Paris headquarters, open to the public for the first time through Sunday.

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Called “Under Your Smell,” the show features the work of 29 second-year photography students at the University of Art and Design Lausanne, also known as ECAL, who were given carte blanche to interpret iconic Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances, including Le Male, first introduced in 1995.

Florence Tétier, creative director for Jean Paul Gaultier fashion, said the creative exercise gave “a very, very new vision” to the fragrances, with most of the students referencing the way the founder “worked around the body and gender fluidity.”

Many of the 60 images were blown up to nearly billboard size on scrims hung in the vast space where Jean Paul Gaultier couture collections are paraded twice a year. Visitors might need to step back to make out exactly which body part they are viewing.

Many of the students played with the bottle top of the Scandal women’s scent, featuring two shapely silver legs poking out. One plopped the cap on a woman’s big toe; another stuck one limb into an earlobe with a tunnel piercing.

The cap of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Scandal perfume, worn as an earring.
The cap of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Scandal perfume, worn as an earring.

The exhibition was timed to coincide with the 25th edition of Paris Photo, the international photography fair taking place at the Grand Palais Éphémère temporary structure plunked near the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Spanish actress Rossy da Palma, who frequently wears Jean Paul Gaultier on and off screen, is guest of honor of Paris Photo this year and wore a look from the brand’s current Cyber Collection to an opening event on Wednesday night in Paris. It winks to a Victor Vasarely print used in the founder’s 1995 collection known as “Les Amazones.”

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