Jean-Paul Gaultier, one of France’s elite haute couture fashion designers, recently expressed his passion for clothing and culture during a showcase held in Paris. His menswear collection was based on a travel theme — presenting a fashionable man who focused on traveling in order to broaden his mind, learn about new cultures, and gain a deeper understanding of the world.
With a passion for India, this particular collection featured a variety of rich colors and fabrics. However, what caught the eyes among all the shorts, tuxedos, overcoats, etc. were the Sikhi-inspired turbans worn by all of Gaultier’s models.
Ironically, while Gaultier brings the turban to Paris’ runways, France’s 2004 “Turban Ban” has kept them off the street. In 2004, the French government banned all forms of religious headwear in public, including the burqa for Muslim women and turban for Sikhs. Despite global protests, the French government refused to budge.
While the purpose of Gaultier’s collection isn’t to promote and sell turbans, it still brings forward the idea of cultural tolerance and diversity. It shows a certain level of respect for the turban in a global setting by raising awareness of the Sikh identity without focusing solely on religion. His artistic way of presenting turbans in the fashion world simply makes the turban “haute.”
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P.S. Gautier isn’t the only fashion icon to bring turbans into the fashion industry. Kenneth Cole is well-known for his campaign “We All Walk in Different Shoes” which featured Sonny Caberwal, a Sikh model.