PARIS — "She can wear anything," Jean Paul Gaultier said about his friend Madonna.
But more often than not, the pop superstar chooses to wear Gaultier, which will be the case when her "Confessions" world tour kicks off Sunday at the Los Angeles Forum.
Sixteen years after Gaultier's cone-breasted bustier from the "Blonde Ambition" tour ignited an innerwear-outerwear trend, Madonna will take to the stage in looks that range from kinky equestrian and haute harem to what might be described as Biblical chic — an off-the-shoulder blouse and velvet cropped pants accessorized with a crown of thorns. Also, in keeping with the disco flavor of her latest album, there will be a flaring white pantsuit à la "Saturday Night Fever" and a sparkly pink jumpsuit.
Gaultier gave WWD a preview of the costumes for a spectacle Madonna has boasted will "turn the world into one big dance floor." To be sure, it will cement the star's reputation as a quick-change artist, with at least four complete changes, plus several on-stage transformations.
Gaultier's couture atelier in Paris has been working overtime to realize jodhpurs, blouses and jackets in luxurious fabrics such as taffeta, duchess satin, Chantilly lace and silk chiffon. Deadpans Gaultier about the Material Girl: "She's quite obsessed with the quality of fabrics."
Not to mention every last detail of the show's look. "It's her baby as a tour," Gaultier said. "She's in total command, like the director of a movie."
But as has been the case over an 18-year friendship, the pop star and the couturier are typically tuned in to the same fashion station.
Just as Madonna took up horseback riding in a serious way — even taking a fall last year that landed her in the hospital — Gaultier was hitching himself to Hermès as its new designer of women's ready-to-wear, including in his first collection a saddle-like bustier and a belt sprouting a tail out the back.
In fact, the horsey connections go way back. Some 15 years ago, Gaultier took Madonna to the Zingaro theatrical horse show in Paris, "and she loved it."
But while Madonna may come to the table with firm ideas about the look and themes of her concert, she expects Gaultier to come back to her with creative propositions.
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"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)