Jean Paul Gaultier Talks Living Art for Harper’s Bazaar—and Marrying Glenda Bailey

Photo courtesy of Harper's Bazaar

I Spy: Jean Paul Gaultier, painted and posing in Liu Bolin's eye-popping photograph for Harper's Bazaar.

Turning Karl Lagerfeld into a Simpsons cartoon? Done. Casting Diane von Furstenberg as Mrs. Robinson to Prabal Gurung’s Dustin Hoffman? Done. So if there’s one person who could convince fashion’s biggest stars to be painted—head-to-toe—for a spread by contemporary artist Liu Bolin, it’s Harper’s Bazaar’s Glenda Bailey.

Bailey welcomed special guest Jean Paul Gaultier—a Bolin subject in the glossy’s March issue—to a Soho art gallery Monday night for a life-sized viewing of the spread. Gaultier, naturally, was camouflaged in his signature stripes for the project.

“I thought of the stripes, but I thought it would be quicker!” laughed a cheeky Gaultier of the project. Unfortunately, his plan didn’t quite work out; the designer spent over three hours being painted and standing perfectly still for his session with Bolin. Turns out standing perfectly still for hours isn’t so easy.

“I was trying to concentrate and go until the end,” he told FashionEtc. “They put water on me which was cold, and then they painted me, and then soon I can’t feel my legs anymore! I was thinking, ‘Oh god, I hope I do not faint!’

“They even put something on my back so that I would stay to the wall! They brought me Coca-Cola with a straw, because I wanted to not move my face too much.”

The results were well worth the pain, though.

Photo: Zachary Bako

Liu Bolin, Glenda Bailey and Jean Paul Gaultier posing with Bolin's work.

“My team and I are so dedicated to creating surprises and excitement in our magazine; this is what makes us excited about our jobs,” said Bailey at the fête, pointing to the images hanging on the gallery walls. The brainchild of Bazaar's special project director, Laura Brown, the spread includes other chic subjects, including Alber Elbaz, Angela Missoni, and Valentino’s Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri. “And these are virtually sold out!”

With so many designers eager to engage in Bazaar’s antics, we had to ask Gaultier: what wouldn’t you do for Glenda Bailey?

“You know what I did already? I already have been a nun!” he laughed, referring to the March 2010 issue of Bazaar that recreated scenes from Pedro Almodóvar films. “I already did that—I accepted everything! Next time, if she asks to marry me, I’ll say yes, I will accept!”