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    Haute Focus.

    Jean Paul Gaultier shifts gears.

    Legendary French designer Jean Paul Gaultier recently announced he will be withdrawing from ready-to-wear collections for both men and women. The move, he has stated, is to allow him more time to concentrate on haute couture and developing the fragrance lines of the Gaultier label. Design houses typically have to produce multiple collections per year, with an ever increasing amount of looks per collection. "Commercial constraints, as well as the frenetic pace of collections don't leave any freedom, nor the necessary time to find fresh ideas and to innovate," he told WWD.

    Gaultier rose to fashion prominence from obscurity, having never formally studied design. After sending sketches to various fashion houses as a young man he was accepted as an assistant to Pierre Cardin in the early seventies, and went on to work for more French houses until producing his own collection in 1976. His designs have earned him respect as one of the most exciting innovators in the industry. His fantastical outfits crop up everywhere in popular culture, serving as stage and music video costumes for Madonna (the conical bra) and Kylie Minogue (the two are good friends), and appearing in Luc Besson’s iconic sci-fi flick, The Fifth Element.  The designer is looking forward to this new chapter of his career. "This is a new beginning,” he told WWD. “I will be able to express again my creativity fully and without constraints."