Jean Paul Gaultier Coming to Israel's Eurovision to Dress Madonna

The French designer is expected to arrive in Israel on May 13. The last time he dressed Israeli singer Dana International for her iconic 1998 performance

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier appears at the end of his Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2019 collection show in Paris, France, January 23, 2019.
GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS

Top French designer Jean Paul Gaultier is due to arrive in Israel in May for the Eurovision song contest events, for which he will once again dress Dana International and Madonna, who will perform at the finale. Gaultier’s visit will begin on May 13, a day before the first semifinals, and he will stay until after the finale. The two divas have become identified with Gaultier throughout the years, and are responsible for looks that have become iconic in popular culture, no less that the image of the sailor that has accompanied the designer since the beginning of his career.

“Although this is my 10th time, I must say, that I’m just as excited as I was the first time,” Dana International told Haaretz when the news was published. “It’s just like that time, 21 years ago, when I didn’t believe that he had really agreed to sew an outfit for me.”

The singer was referring to the black evening gown over which she wore a jacket decorated with colorful parrot feathers, which Gaultier designed for her in 1998 for her Eurovision performance. In the end the singer, whom the designer dubs “my muse,” chose to perform the song “Diva” dressed in a glittering maxi dress by designer Galit Levy. She wore the feather outfit when she went onstage once again, this time as the winner of the contest, waving her hands that looked like colorful wings.

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The dress and the feathered jacket have been displayed at international fashion exhibitions, including the one devoted to the body of Gaultier’s work, which has traveled among various countries since its launching at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2015 – “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.”

Jean Paul Gaultier and Dana International in a dress fitting ahead of Eurovision 2019.
At Magazine

Gaultier continued to design dresses for Dana International’s performances, including a black lace dress that she wore at the 50th Eurovision in 2005, and a woven greenish silk dress in the 2011 Eurovision. He also invited her to walk on the catwalk in two of his fashion shows in Vienna (alongside another of his favorite Israeli women, Stella Amar), and even came to visit her in Israel during a private tour.

Dana International will appear twice in the present Eurovision Contest, in the first semifinal and at the opening of the contest, when she will receive the contestants with her interpretation of the hit “Tel Aviv” by Omer Adam, and in a selection from the song “Diva” that won her first place. For both performances she will wear dresses by Gaultier.

She told Haaretz that they usually choose the dresses together. “Before a meeting we speak on the phone, we talk about the songs, about what the outfit is supposed to convey. It isn’t always a perfect choice, I must admit. I hope that this time they’ll like it. The main thing is that our gut feeling is good.”

Regarding the relationship between Gaultier and Madonna, it began already in the 1990s, when he dressed her in the now-legendary corset. The corset, made of pinkish satin with two pointy cones, starred in her performance tour for her album “Blond Ambition.” It was first presented at a fashion show in 1982, but thanks to her it became iconic a decade later and is one of the most frequently cited Madonna looks, which became a symbol of an empowering appropriation of an instrument for female oppression.

 Jean Paul Gautier and Madonna, wearing Jean Paul Gaultier, 1992.
Getty Images

Since then Gaultier has often designed outfits for her performances tours worldwide. Madonna for her part has walked down the catwalk every few years in his fashion shows. In the show that took place in 1992, for example, she walked alongside Gaultier at the end of the show in a breast-revealing suspender dress. But she made sure to wear boots and a beret. For her visit to Israel, Gaultier will design something new, at her request.

Gaultier, 67, has also conducted a long affair with the Eurovision contest itself. In 1991 he dressed French singer Amina, in 2006 the Greek representative Anna Vissi, in 2012 Anggun, the French representative, and a year later the Swedish Eurovision presenter Petra Mede, and the winner that year, Conchita. Last year he was also responsible for the outfits of the French representatives to Eurovision, the duo Madam Monsieur.