Jean-Paul Gaultier, the French designer famed for conical bras, man-skirts and torso-bottled fragrances, was a wild-card selection to sit on this year’s main Competition Jury at Cannes Film Festival alongside actors Ewan McGregor, Diane Kruger, Hiam Abbass and Emmanuelle Devos and filmmakers Alexander Payne, Andrea Arnold, Raoul Peck and Nanni Morreti, writes Matt Mueller.
He’s the first fashion designer who’s ever been asked and had a happy grin on his face as he whisked us into the Jury’s private sanctum at the top of the Palais du Festival for an exclusive chat about jury duty, his love of cinema and getting ejected from the Cannes red carpet.
How was it meeting your fellow jury members?
It was great because I met Nanni Morreti… Why is he called Nanni? It’s feminine, but he’s not! The one that I love is Andrea Arnold. I love her movie Fish Tank and she’s quite funny. And Diane, Emmanuelle and Ewan McGregor of course. I knew him already. I met him when he did Trainspotting and I also met him at the opening of Moulin Rouge. He was singing so well in that.
Do you feel like this year’s wild card?
I feel very happy. I was a little scared that I’m not a film professional. I am not actor, I am not director, but I love cinema so my highs will be like the ones of the public. Even if I don’t know technique let’s say, I will be very spontaneous in how I react. The thing is that I don’t have anything to gain; I’m not in the cinema business so I don’t have to think, “Oh, I need to be good with that director”.
Are you excited about the line-up?
I can’t speak at all about the movies, and I didn’t read anything at all about the movies we will see. I only found out yesterday that Marion Cotillard is in one film. My best experiences with movies have come when I didn’t know what to see and chose a film because I liked the poster or something like that.
When did Cannes first approach you?
About one-and-a-half-months ago. I was like, “My God, will I be good for that?” My only relation to movies is through the costumes I did for Almodovar, Jeunet and Caro, Besson… but maybe they knew how much I love to go to the cinema. My path into fashion started because I loved the cinema and I have been very influenced by movies and their looks: The Great Gatsby, The Magnificent Seven, Once Upon a Time in the West with the long coats, Bonnie and Clyde…
You also go back a long way with Cannes…
Yes, the funny thing is I was two times rejected on the red carpet because I was not in the right outfit.
You failed to observe the strict black-tie protocol?
Well, the first time they held me back I was wearing a tuxedo but with shorts, and the other time I was wearing a kilt. When I was here with Madonna for In Bed with Madonna, I was wearing a black torero outfit, but they didn’t say anything because I was with Madonna!
Will you be hanging out with the jury the whole time?
No, we will meet every two days. That’s the plan of Mr Nanni Morreti. I will try to go to as little events as possible because if I watch a film where I know the actor or the actress or the director and then I go to an event for them, I won’t be able to speak to them. I am not an actor, I cannot control my feelings that way and so they will know from my face what I think about their film!
Are you planning to see anything that’s not in Competition?
Yes, I want to see the film with Pete Doherty and Charlotte Gainsbourg [Confessions of a Child of the Century]. I can’t wait for that because I want to see how he plays!