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Europeana Fashion Focus: ‘Cage Suit’ by Jean Paul Gaultier, 1989

‘Cage Suit’, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, s/s 1989. Courtesy Modemuseum Hasselt, all rights reserved.

The ‘cage suit’ is composed by a tailored jacket and a pair of trousers. Its name refers to the particular construction of the jacket, which resembles the structure of a nineteenth century corset. It was designed by French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier for his Spring/Summer 1989 womenswear collection.

The jacket is in black cotton, with a notched collar and a breast pocket on the left. The front and back of the jacket feature symmetrical cutaway boned panels; the fastening, placed on the front, consists of five cloth-covered buttons, while the back of the jacket is laced as a corset. The trousers, in the same fabric of the jacket, are pleated and present side pockets and a high waistband with belt loops.

Defined the ‘enfant terrible’ of French fashion, Jean-Paul Gaultier presented his first ready-to-wear collection in Paris in 1976. Ever since the designer has featured on his catwalks witty and daring creations that include the sarong skirt for men and the iconic underwear worn over the clothes, which entered the realm of mass popular culture when Madonna sported one of the pieces – the now infamous cone bra – during her ‘Blond Ambition’ tour in 1990. The suit presented here makes no exception; in it the designer has blended the masculine lines of the male dress with a hyper-sexualized allusion to a female corset.

The object is part of Modemuseum Hasselt Archive. Discover more on the Europeana Fashion portal.

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