John Paul Gaultier’s recent collection is based on the singular styling of the late Amy Winehouse. “Based” is perhaps too generous. Gaultier practically lifts the clothes off Winehouse’s back and puts them on his bee-hived, darkly eye-linered, fag-smoking models.
Winehouse’s father has expressed the family’s general disgust and shock at the collection, claiming that it was done in poor taste and that the fashions iconize the songstress at her worst. So who’s right? Gaultier is a weak designer if he doesn’t attempt to capture the zeitgeist in his often provocative collections and Mitch Winehouse is a bad father if he doesn’t protect the memory of his late daughter.
Whether or not the collection invokes the artist at her worst, it does invoke the artist as she’ll be remembered. Gaultier has taken the incarnation of Winehouse with the most cultural traction and run with it. Poor taste? Perhaps. But wrong? Many have called for a culture of compassion. Fair enough. But should culture be compassionate?