With its blinged-out starlets and stage performances ranging from hokey to outrageous, the Eurovision Song Contest is the guilty pleasure of plenty of fashion folk. And it has perhaps no bigger Paris fan than Jean Paul Gaultier, who has been mesmerized by it since he was a youngster and, in recent years, has become a sometime costumer to its hopefuls.
Gaultier is heading to Belgrade, Serbia, to attend the finals Saturday of Eurovision’s 52nd edition, even providing live commentary on French television for a spectacle that is as kitschy as it is entertaining. “It’s becoming almost trendy,” notes the designer, who boasts almost encyclopedic knowledge of a TV event that catapulted Abba and Celine Dion to international attention — and produced its fair share of lame, lost-in-translation attempts at pop stardom. “It will be hilarious.”
Recounting some random highlights, Gaultier described dressing Dana International — billed as Israel’s first drag queen — when she belted out “Diva” and took home the prize, as well as France’s contestant, Amina, who came in second due to a technicality in viewer voting only a Eurovision veteran like Gaultier can fathom. He even keeps tabs on some of the preselection shenanigans, lamenting that a Paris Hilton-esque hopeful a few years back in Greece, who had a shower among her stage props, was ousted. “It was fabulous, but she was rejected because she was too aggressive,” he notes.
Not that provocation doesn’t fly at Eurovision. Recent winners include Ukraine’s Rusiana, with her Neanderthal take on glam rock, and Norway’s Lordi, a monsterlike metal band that looks like it eats the likes of Hilton for breakfast.