Casser la baraque

French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier was born on April 24, 1954. The self-taught designer attracted the attention of Pierre Cardin by sending him sketches. He came out with his first solo collection in 1976. Gaultier is an expert tailor, but is more known for his shocking and irreverent designs such as the cone bra he designed for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour or skirts for men. The shockmeister even released a music video “How To Do That.” In addition to his own ready-to-wear and couture lines, Gaultier has created the costumes for multiple films as well as a perfume line. His men’s fragrance is number one in Europe. He was the creative head of Hermès from 2003 to 2010. You can see a slide show of Gaultier’s previous shows here, some of which feature models not considered beautiful – plus-sized women or heavily tattooed men.

Today’s expression, casser la baraque (kassay lah barak) literally means “to break the shack” but figuratively means to make a great success of something. Curiously enough, just a small shift in the expression, casser la baraque à quelqu’un, means completely the opposite, “to mess things up for someone.” While Gaultier’s style and my idea of fashion may be poles apart, he is clearly a success in a challenging and highly competitive field, where success and disaster walk hand in hand with every new collection.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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