Happy 20th Monsieur Gaultier. You’re still Classique

Happy 20th Monsieur Gaultier. You’re still Classique

By Deborah Fulsang

The conical bust worn by Madonna in 1990 for the singer’s Blonde Ambition World Tour imprinted itself onto the memory of a generation. So spectacular and shocking was that undergarment, designed by French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, it’s no wonder it became the essence of the first Gaultier perfume that launched in its wake.

Gaultier Classique, which debuted in 1993, was a perfume housed in a sculpted flacon styled as a corset-clad woman’s torso.

Provocation was the name of the game 20 years ago for Gaultier, and remains the signature of the designer’s style. Remember: He was known as the “Enfant Terrible” of the French fashion establishment in the 1980s and ’90s.

The original Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume—later called Classique—was, like its curvy bottle, sultry and provocative. The lush concoction mixed rose and orange blossom with a darker vanilla-and-amber-wood essence to push it into the floriental category. Prettier than an oriental, more femme-fatale than a straight floral: It was the olfactory expression of a designer who liked to play with, and bend, the rules.

And the scent still works. It packs enough thoughtfulness to appeal to those who grew up in the ’80s, and enough fruit and freshness to pique the perfume curiosity of those who regard the bigger-is-better decade as strictly vintage. 

Since that first corseted bottle in 1993, Gaultier has offered up countless variations on the Classique flask’s wardrobe. She has been dressed in black velvet in 1998, in a strapless torpedo-coned red evening number in 2005, in tattoos in 1997, couture-style embroidery in 2006 and party-ready paillettes in 2007.

To mark this double-decade anniversary, Classique dons a thermo-glazed corset inspired by a 2012 Gaultier haute couture gown that paid homage to the late Amy Winehouse. With its iridescence and undulating curves, it’s perfect for the pop-culture-loving, Classique collector.


Jean-Paul Gaultier Classique 20th Anniversary Edition EDT, $117 (100 ml), www.jeanpaulgaultier.com 

Find out more details about Jean-Paul Gaultier Classique in our Perfume-o-Pedia

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.