Parisian Style: As Goude as It Gets


Most students of Parisian style will know Jean-Paul Goude. To the world, he is the man who made singer Grace Jones a star. But Goude has been molding the image of what is French for four decades. His first-ever retrospective, “Goudemalion,” follows the designer from illustration into magazines, then to a groundbreaking career in music, film and video. After this comes advertising for luxury brands—plus the most expensive spectacle ever seen on the Champs Elysées.

Photo: Courtesy Museum of Decorative Arts.

That event was the French Revolution’s bicentenary, a parade that featured miles of eye-popping floats, musicians and performers from around the world. It was kicked off by a replica locomotive (a jaw-dropping item, created by Goude, that has been installed as the exhibition centerpiece). This engine was followed by thousands and thousands of costumes, each a separate and sensational work of art. Some are pictured in photos, others in clips of film from the day. 

This singular achievement encapsulated Parisian style and, across France, made Goude a household name. But, especially for anyone who loves fashion, there is much more to see in this retrospective. Its 600 photos, paintings, costumes, sculptures and videos feature Goude muses, such as Grace Jones, Vanessa Paradis and Laetitia Casta. They follow la mode from the 1960s right up to Goude’s current campaign for Galeries Lafayette.

This is also a chance to see ads that redefined luxury, Goude’s fantastic promos for scent, chocolate and couture. Among them are Chanel’s legendary Egoïste preview, Vanessa Paradis as Coco’s whistling bird in a cage and Sarah Jessica Parker robbing a shop to get at Covet. (Goude is so famous some of these shoots were covered on TV as news.) Here, you can see each progress from storyboard to screen, with all the backstage secrets decoded.

Curator Amélie Gastaut feels the ads remain unique. “We consider all Goude’s films—for Perrier and Citroën as well as Chanel and Guerlain—probably the most inventive in the history of publicity. They are part of our collective memory.”
So is Jean-Paul Goude’s obsession with women of color. Something of a heterosexual Robert Mapplethorpe, he has always traded in saucy, erotic, irreverent humor. Much of the time the women involved have been his day-to-day partners. “Goude’s work displays his romantic life, of course,” says Gastaut. “But it is also full of allusions to dance and theatre, movies and musicals.” 

The show is a wonderland of vintage Parisian style. But it also reveals just how much communications have changed. Goude, now 71, has kept pace with every technology and remains at the top of his game today. His maverick mind, a font of cutting-edge techniques, has helped French luxury rebrand itself over and over.

The Museum of Decorative Arts has a new iPhone application you can download for free at the nearby Apple Store in the Carrousel du Louvre. Also a must during any visit to the museum is a stop in its fabulous gift shop, 107Rivoli.
Related Links
Jean-Paul Goude
“Goudemalion” at the Museum of Decorative Arts
Goude’s Egoïste ad
Goude’s Coco ad
Carrousel du Louvre
Editor’s note: Have you checked out the Girls’ Guide to Paris logo store lately?