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EXCLUSIVE: Jean Paul Gaultier Picks Courrèges Designer as Next Guest Couturier

The ’60s are definitely in the air.

Jean Paul Gaultier has selected Courrèges designer Nicolas Di Felice — who has added heat and currency to the Space Age brand — as the house’s next guest couturier.

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Di Felice is to show his one-off collection for Jean Paul Gaultier during Paris Couture Week, scheduled for June 24 to 27 in the French capital.

“I find Nicolas to be bold and creative from the beginning of his career,” Gaultier said, revealing the selection of Di Felice exclusively to WWD. “Choosing him aligns perfectly with the idea of seeing what a designer can bring to my style.”

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Di Felice will be the seventh guest couturier after Simone Rocha, Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, Haider Ackermann, Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, Glenn Martens of Y/Project and Diesel, and Sacai’s Chitose Abe.

Following his retirement from the runway in 2020, Gaultier came up with the idea of the couture house inviting different designers to interpret his vast and eclectic oeuvre, achieved over a career spanning 50 years.

It’s quickly become a highlight of couture week — and further fueled interest in Gaultier’s contributions to fashion and pop culture.

The iconic designer keeps a close eye on young talents and said Di Felice “has very successfully reinterpreted the style of Courrèges while bringing in new influences on the table. You can immediately recognize what inspired him from Courrèges and what he has created.”

Courrèges Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection at Paris Fashion Week
A look from the Courrèges runway for fall 2024.

Di Felice said he feels “extremely honored” to be selected, especially after only three years as artistic director at Courrèges.

“I am grateful to get the chance to work with this legendary couture atelier and I cannot wait to dig into the archives,” he enthused in an interview. “Even if I work on some more exceptional pieces for my own show, I mostly try to focus on a certain practicality and wearability at Courrèges, so it’s quite exciting for me to let that go for a bit.”

Like all the guest couturiers before him, Di Felice lauded Gaultier as a pillar of French culture, and a fashion maverick figure who continues to inspire new generations.

“I’m from a little village in Belgium where you couldn’t find Vogue or real fashion magazines,” said the graduate of La Cambre fashion school in Brussels. “Jean Paul was the only figure that was famous in my hometown. He was on the television; everybody would use his perfumes. He completely changed fashion and offered it to a wider audience.”

Di Felice shares a link with Gaultier via Nicolas Ghesquière, who started his fashion career as a teenager by filing, photocopying and cataloguing fabrics at Jean Paul Gaultier, eventually joining the studio.

Di Felice joined Ghesquière’s team at Balenciaga in 2008 shortly after graduating from La Cambre, remaining at the brand for six years. After a brief stint at Dior under Raf Simons, he was reunited with Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton in 2015, where he remained until 2020, when he became artistic director of Courrèges.

Di Felice described Gaultier as a role model “in his freedom of speech and the real love and openness he has for people — combined with his genuine passion for technique and craftsmanship.”

“Jean Paul is the perfect mix of French couture and non-conformism; it echoes a lot with my own trajectory,” he mused.

Asked how he might tackle the rare assignment of an haute couture collection bearing the name of a fashion hero, Di Felice replied: “Of course, I have ideas already. But to answer your question, I would say with lots of sincerity, trying to be daring and focusing on the savoir-faire, because this is for sure part of his legacy.”

It’s shaping up to be a big year for Di Felice — and Courrèges.

The designer is to head the fashion jury at the 39th edition of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories, which is scheduled for Oct. 10 to 13.

Meanwhile, Courrèges plans to open four stores in 2024, including a new flagship in the Marais district of Paris. In the U.S., the house is set to inaugurate its first West Coast location at South Coast Plaza in June.

Owned by Artémis, the private investment arm of France’s Pinault family, Courrèges saw revenues double in 2023, fueled by fast-growing categories like accessories and men’s.

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