Gaultier grew up in a suburb of Paris. His mother was a clerk and his father an accountant. It was his maternal grandmother, Marie Garage, who introduced him to the world of fashion. He never received formal training as a designer. Instead, he started sending sketches to famous couture stylists at an early age. Pierre Cardin was impressed by his talent and hired him as an assistant in 1970. Afterwards he worked with Jacques Esterel in 1971 and Jean Patou later that year, then returning to manage the Pierre Cardin boutique in Manila for a year in 1974.