Look who's talking: Male and female below the waist: The fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier explains how he managed to get so close to Madonna's breasts

WAS I ever a fashion victim myself? Never. Well, maybe in 1970 I was a bit. I wasn't a victim in the sense of blindly doing whatever was in fashion, but I would wear what I thought suited me.

My childhood had been spent in a Parisian suburb and wasn't very exciting. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I was bored with the real world and couldn't be bothered to play football with the other boys, so I sketched all the time. I also designed clothes and, when I was seven, made a pointed bra out of paper for Nana, my teddy bear. Everything serves, even something I thought up when I was seven. Many years later I used the same design for Madonna's bra; I suppose I got closer to Madonna's breasts than most men, though not in the way most dream.

Madonna and I do keep in touch, usually by fax because of the time difference between Paris and Los Angeles. I always want to know who she's dating.

I longed to make clothes and design collections since I was a child. Today, including accountants and couturiers, I have a team of about 30 people around me, and my collections take up almost all of my time. My biggest markets are Britain, America and Japan, but the recession affected everyone. It quickly became evident that fashion is not essential and while we always need clothes, fashion clothes are a luxury.

A good 80 per cent of my designs are made in Italy, and when I first went there it was because of cost. Italian manufacture was cheaper than French or British. Now the costs have become expensive there, too, but the quality is still better.

I first came up with skirts for men in 1983, but it wasn't really something new, men have always worn them. In some countries - Greece, Scotland, Bali and Thailand - it's national dress. Skirts don't belong to one particular sex, they can actually be very masculine. It just depends who's wearing them. I'm wearing leather trousers under a skirt, it means I'm in control of both my masculinity and femininity. It also means I'm doubly sexy, peut-etre?

Television presenting represents only about 2 per cent of my work. And maybe the money I get from it is only 2 per cent of my income - I'm not saying. Making Eurotrash for Channel 4 takes very little time, no more than going out to a restaurant for an evening. It's completely unrehearsed, although we usually have to record four takes of each link until we get it right. The series isn't broadcast back in France, and over there I'm only known as a designer. I don't think the French appreciate the fact that I'm French so much.

I have been alone since my partner, Francis, died. Home is an apartment in Paris, small, but big enough for me. I also spend quite a lot of my time over here, going out with friends. I always stay at Blakes Hotel, west London, booking a self-contained basement apartment, which gives me privacy with all the advantages of living in a hotel. It's one of the luxuries my success has given me. Another is the ability to make what I love, how I like - with freedom to express myself and without too much pressure.

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

    Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

    £14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower