Politics on the runway – Jean-Paul Gaultier joins the ‘Free the Nipple’ campaign

Jean-Paul Gaultier, legendary French designer, sent two topless models, one male, one female, down the run way at Paris Haute Couture week, each only wearing a transparent police shield and trousers. Across the man’s screen read “Tetons Libres” the French translation of “Free the Nipple”.

The look was in reaction to a story about a seventeen year-old Floridian teenage girl who was told to wear two shirts and nipple tape to cover her breasts as she had been “distracting other students”. Gaultier told Fashion United that the incident was “scandalous” and that he was using this collection to support the cause for equality. Gaultier went on to say this isn’t about forcing women to go topless but about giving women the freedom to choose and not be demonised for it.

Gaultier has often been at the front of liberation movements. In a recent interview with i-D magazine, Gaultier shared stories of how he had tried to encourage the company he worked for to use black models but he was shut down. He was also one of the first designers to do a mixed gender fashion shows, including men’s skirts in 1985, which is only now becoming more common.

Social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook have constantly come under fire for their strict nudity policing, often removing artistic nude images of a non-sexual nature or of images of breastfeeding. This has proved controversial as topless images of men are almost never removed or deleted showing that there is a double standard within our society. The image of Gaultier’s two models has been posted on Instagram numerous times although not on the brand’s official Instagram account. It remains to be seen if the images will be taken down.