Jean-Paul Gaultier (2L) and models wearing his creation, acknowledge the audience after a show.
French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier shocked the fashion world Friday by saying his next Paris haute couture show will be his last.
The flamboyant creator said he would be bowing out Wednesday with "a big party" to mark his 50 years in the business after his latest collection hits the catwalk.
His brand told AFP that his high-end fashion and perfume business would live on, but that 67-year-old Gaultier was stepping back from designing clothes himself.
"Rest assured, haute couture will continue with a new concept," said the designer, who made pop history by putting Madonna in a conical bra, invented the "man skirt" and brought body diversity to the runway.
American singer Beth Ditto and the bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst were among the atypical models whom he charmed into his party-like shows.
The eternal enfant terrible dropped his bombshell in a typically jokey video message, shot as if he was giving an exclusive interview to a reporter over the phone.
'Fiesta of fabric and flesh'
Gaultier stopped designing ready-to-wear clothes in 2015 to concentrate on haute couture -- extravagant handmade clothes which only the world's richest women can afford.
But as late as last year, the maverick insisted that he had no intention of hanging up his scissors -- although he despaired of animal rights activists pressuring him to stop using furs.
While his couture business owned by the Catalan luxury group Puig was never a huge money maker, his perfumes -- often featuring his impossibly handsome sailor boys -- continue to be bestsellers.
A child fashion prodigy, Gaultier said he started by making showgirl outfits for his teddy bear.
He was personal assistant to French fashion magnate Pierre Cardin at 18, and rose to fame in the 1980s alongside designers like Thierry Mugler when the Paris fashion scene was at its most decadent.
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