Jean Paul Gaultier bounds into the Ristorante National in Paris doing something distinctly British: complaining about the weather. "It’s so hot," he says. "It’s quite humid, I think, it’s not a nice dry heat." Casual in a denim shirt and camo-print jacket, he joins me at his usual table in a far corner of the trendy Italian restaurant in the Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers. "It’s a long time since you’ve been here," says a waiter as he takes our drinks order (two "detox" juices, on Gaultier’s recommendation). "I know," responds the designer with a shrug, "because work, work, work." Gaultier, 66, is the original enfant terrible of French fashion, with a 40-year career as provocateur. He made his name subverting the traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity through camp theatrics and outlandish inventions. In the 1980s he dressed men in skirts; a decade later, he designed a pink satin conical bra for Madonna that propelled him to international fame. "I think at the time th...

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