Gaultier Paris: cocktail-hour couture
Jean-Paul Gaultier didn’t invent Le Smoking – the French term for a tuxedo – but few people have ever showered the garment with more love than the Parisian couturier did in his latest Gaultier Paris couture show on Wednesday afternoon.
The invitation to his co-ed show featured a James Bond archetype and a sensual female silhouette in a beret, clutching a cigarette holder. The backdrop was a huge white veil onto which was projected cigarette smoke; one model even had an ear clip holding a Marlboro.
His all-guy opening was very much Eyes Wide Shut set in Downton Abbey, with handsome huntsmen in riding boots, tailcoats and “well molded” jodhpurs, as the program put it. Gaultier Paris couture “supporter scarves” in white mink and black fox; or fur St Moritz après-ski sweatshirts, though of course in black mink. With the odd whip thrown in.
Even the girls wore masculine suspenders anchoring an array of tuxedos; with long shawl collars; sleeveless and worn with 18-inch long leather gloves; ramped up in jet sequins; and crisply finished with satin.
His big idea was the conversation killer transparent shields worn on a quartet of looks, an introvert’s dream – and ideal look for an icy fashion editor. Of which there were more than one at this show, it being couture. Though, once again, missing throughout the entire season, the most powerful editor of them all – Anna Wintour.
In a brilliant finale, the couture bride swept out in an enormous faded lime toile wedding dress so whisper light that the runway lights made the train look like a vapor of smoke. Garnering an explosion of applause.
Just seconds before a dashing couple appeared with bare chests, over which were stenciled on plastic – Tetons Libres, or Free the Nipples, in the latest pun by Jean-Paul in fashion’s least politically correct career.
The only one missing was Marlene Dietrich, who invented the whole idea of chic women in masculine tailoring, and would have adored getting her hands on these clothes. Though we did have Naomi Campbell in the front row wearing a drop dead gorgeous black calico top, sitting beside Nile Rodgers, the legendary founder of Chic, and the Disco’s greatest ever producer. Naomi had the paparazzi in a feeding frenzy worthy of a shoal of Amazonian piranha, especially when she paused post-show to get Amanda Lear’s mobile number. Jean-Paul even named a tuxedo Night Rodgers in a polite homage to the producer.
Gaultier then took his usual full tour of his 75-meter catwalk, though before his cast made their finale, resulting in considerable pandemonium as guests crossed the runway amid models.
However, this was an almost perfect statement of cocktail hour couture, albeit marred by the intense heat of the Gaultier show-space on the funky rue Saint Martin, on the edge of Paris’ red light district.
Curious indeed that both the house’s previous and current majority owners – the billionaire Hermès family, and now the billionaire Puig clan of Catalonia – have never been generous enough to fork out for a proper air conditioning system for Gaultier’s show space.
Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil – unlike the memorable tuxedo revolution in this show.
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