Sunday, 31 October 2010

Shoes by Alaïa

(Photo by Jean-Paul Goude)
Image courtesy of: Le Journal de la Photographie

His diminutive size belies the fact that Azzedine Alaïa, the Tunisian-born designer who's been creating some of modern fashion's sexiest, sleekest and most original designs for the better part of the past 30 years, has a giant reputation - that of a genius in the world of fashion. His supple handling of leather, exotic skins such as pythons, and knits in particular are legendary: his body-sculpting clothes (his moniker in the industry is "The King of Cling") are avidly collected by die-hard devotees and fiercely loyal models. No one, it is widely acknowledged, cuts like M. Alaïa.


At his Marais-district studio - Azzedine Alaïa & muse, Naomi Campbell

Refusing to conform to fashion presentation schedules or to indulge in advertisement, he often works alone late into the night - it is not unusual to find him working in his studio till 4 or 5 in the morning - and shows his collections if and when he's good and ready; his reputation as a designer is so great that buyers and editors make special trips to his Marais-district studio in the French capital whenever the invitation summons them - and long after all other fashion houses have shown their collections.


Over the years, M. Alaïa has gradually branched out and extended his unique touch to accessories; namely belts, boots and shoes. His footwear have that unmistakable stamp of Alaïa sex-appeal to them. Just as with his clothing, they are not for the demure 'wall flower' but rather, for the woman who steps confidently forward. Here are a few examples to illustrate the point.

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(Photo by Patrick Demarchelier)
Image courtesy of: Do You Desire?


Saturday, 30 October 2010

It's All Goude: The Photographic Wit & Whimsy of Jean-Paul Goude

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I regularly ask myself about the status of my work and the classification of what I do. How relevant is my work, and does it correspond to the life of an artist - even as I conceived it? Is it art or something else? I still don't know if I'll ever find an answer.” 
~ Jean-Paul Goude


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Jean-Paul Goude was born in a suburb of Paris in 1940, to an American mother and a French father. Both of Goude's parents were 'showbiz' people in New York. His mother ran a dance school, possibly instilling in the young Goude a fascination with the human body and its rhythmic movement - especially in dance. As a youth, Goude had initially intended to become a ballet dancer, but his body did not conform to the regle d'or or the golden rule of proportion and so, he decided to quit ballet. It is said that his artistic talents were evident from an early age. At any rate, he was enrolled at L'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Afterwards, Goude embarked on his career as an illustrator. Then, in 1968, Harold Hayes, editor of US Esquire Magazine from 1963-1973 asked Goude to art direct a special edition of the magazine in celebration of its 75th issue. Fresh from Paris, Goude began to work there full-time, becoming an art editor even though he had little experience in layouts. At the age of 25, he became one of Esquire's creative art directors; by which time, he had established himself as a first-class artist. 

Jean-Paul Goude in Paris ~ 1981
Jean-Paul Goude, self portrait ~ 1998
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Album Covers & Commercials:

Cristina ~ Sleep It Off

Grace Jones

Video courtesy of: soued ~ YouTube

The above two images are courtesy of: Flores del Fango

Bulletproof Heart
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My Jamaican Guy
No profile on Jean-Paul Goude is complete without citing his most intimate collaboration, that of the mythical Pygmalion and Galatea, which began in New York and at the height (and heady nights) of the Disco era. It was there that he ran into Grace Jones one evening, then a young Disco diva, after one of her performances at the celebrated Studio 54. The two quickly became lovers with the added bonus that Grace gained a much-needed new manager with a fertile imagination and the vision to execute it; he was a man who would not only become the father of her son but also play with her androgyny, moulding her image into a gay icon. Here was the perfect vehicle to Goude's  exuberant imagination: stage-managing outrageous live shows and creating groundbreaking album covers with a submitting, perfectly willing and unafraid muse. For one cover, Island Life, he manipulated Jones's image, through his signature 'cutting and pasting' method (by hand and without the benefit or convenience of modern-day computer softwares),  into an impossible pose -  a pose which has been attempted and parodied endlessly over the years. 
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Below: the completed version of the Slave album cover
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Below: the evolution of the Slave to the Rhythm album cover

I photographed her in a variety of positions, which I combined into a montage that made it possible to show her simultaneously full-frontal and in profile, like an Egyptian bas-relief,” Goude says. “Then, having transferred the montage to photographic paper, I used it as the preliminary sketch for a painting meant to give the photographic illusion that she alone, like a contortionist, could assume the pose, though on a closer look you can see that from a strictly anatomical point of view the pose is impossible to achieve.” 

It’s an approach Goude has adopted with many of his muses, adapting their images to show what he describes as his real conception of their beauty, not the one directly visible. (Cited from:, 2010)

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The creative process of the Grace Jones's Island Life album cover

Grace Jones before
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Grace Jones after
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Former YSL muse, Mounia
Laetitia Casta, 2003
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(Above left: "Allegorie de la Mode" ~ 1998)
The above two images are courtesy of: APARTE
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 (Above right: Azzedine Alaïa & Farida Khelfa ~ 1985)

Perhaps it is the most prestigious and important commission of Goude's career to date: in 1989, President Mitterrand asked Goude to organize and oversee the Bicentennial parade on the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day, that spark which ignited the fire of the French Revolution. But in true Goude-fashion, he mixed French and African rhythms, doused the British contingent with water (because “everyone knows it always rains in England”), and asked Senegalese tribal dancers to interpret Swan Lake. In an interview with I.D. Magazine's Erin Flaherty in 2006, Goude's memory of that night is as follows, "There were a million people - it was a night to remember because France was on this positive high. The multiracial utopia was the thing to do, and that night there was not one incident, not one fight. Nothing."
(Cited in:, 2006)

July 14, 1989, Bastille Day parade - Paris
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A Jean-Paul Goude creation used by in the 1989 bicentennial Bastille Day parade
(Displayed as part of the Goudemalion exhibition at Les Arts Decoratifs ~ Paris)
Top image, courtesy of: FOTO E DITËS | Middle imgage, courtesy of:
Bottom image, courtesy of: ParisMatch
Video courtesy of: Assouline ~ YouTube


Goude's notion or ideal of women, especially ethnic women, have sometimes followed rather cartoonish racial stereotypes, and the name of his first book – Jungle Fever, published in 1982 – also attracted criticism. He argues he’s a man of form, and that his work tackles a political problem in an aesthetic way. (Cited from:, 2010)


Vanessa Paradis
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Naomi Campbell, before
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Naomi Campbell, after
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Grace Jones ~ New York, 1980
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Bottom image, courtesy of: Delphine à Paris

Video courtesy of: BDM675 ~ YouTube

On the set of Coco L'esprit de Chanel
Commercial video  ~ 1991

For Chanel's Coco campaign, Goude put Vanessa Paradis in a birdcage because he thought she looked like Tweety bird.

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Coco: L'Esprit de Chanel ~ 1991
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Goude’s first ad was a TV spot for Lee Cooper jeans in 1982, which he tackled in typically irreverent style, creating a 10-minute mini opera set to Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. He’s also shot TV ads for Kodak, Azzedine Alaïa, Perrier, Cacharel and Chanel, to name just a few.

As a child, he says, his father would try to teach him the difference between fact and fiction, while his mother would argue, “Let the kid dream”. Then his father would say, “No, this is ridiculous. This child has to know what’s right and wrong; what is fantasy and what is reality”. And with that “my mother and I would start crying”. Luckily, he never quite got the hang of it.

And perhaps that’s the point. With Goude you don’t get reality, you get a slice of his singularly creative mind.
(Cited from:, 2010)

Jean-Paul Goude: So Far, So Goude

The above two videos are courtesy of: f4ust85 -

Advertisements & Editorials:

Laetitia Casta as Mae West
Queen of the Art Scene
(Harper's Bazaar ~ September 2012)
Image courtesy of: Harper's Bazaar

"An Haute-Couture Fantasy"
John Galliano for Harper's Bazaar ~ December 2003
(Christian Dior Autumn-Winter 2003 Haute Couture)
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Video courtesy of: Rue Faubourg Style TV

Video by Chanel
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Jean Paul Gaultier
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Donatella Versace & Linda Evangelista
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Azzedine Alaïa
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Björk by Jean-Paul Goude:
Mixte Magazine - October, 2007
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Mixte Magazine - October, 2007
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The Galeries Lafayette advert campaign:

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Jean-Paul Goude's most celebrated print campaigns have been for Galeries Lafayette, the leading Parisian department store he’s worked with for more than 10 years. The company is no stranger to strong art directors – previous campaigns were directed by Jean Widmer (a student of Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten) and Peter Knapp – but with access to “Mr Galeries Lafayette himself,” Goude has been given considerable creative freedom. He’s opted to shoot the on-going adventures of “a comic book character, half way between Herge’s Tintin and a heroine of an early Pearl Buck novel”.
(Cited from:, 2010)

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The 1999 Chanel No. 5 print campaign:

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(Portrait of Jean-Paul Goude with the mask of Grace Jones)
Above left image, courtesy of: Goudemalion | Above right image, courtesy of: Tiger Magazine

Suggested readings:

Jungle Fever (1982), by Jean-Paul Goude: Quartet

So Far, So Goude (2005), by Jean-Paul Goude & Patrick Mauriés and Tom Hedley: Assouline

The Goude Touch (2010), by Jean-Paul Goude & Patrick Mauriés: Thames & Hudson