In Gaultier’s signature gender-provocative way, the women got to borrow from classic menswear, à la George Sand, from top hats to sleek tuxedo pants. Gaultier turned his impeccable tailoring skills to a biker jacket that morphed into a tailcoat, luxuriously executed in matte-black crocodile, and a trench coat in black taffeta with flying panels in back transforming it into a glamorous mid-century cocktail frock. Under those top hats, some of them skeletally formed from a corset’s whalebones, the hair was veiled in this couture season’s ubiquitous decorative net mesh, this time styled in a manner that unsettlingly suggested the hairnets worn by L.A. gang members.
For grand evening Gaultier looked to the Deco heroines of 1920s German artist Otto Dix — himself no stranger to the cross-dressing madness of Berlin nightlife in that era — with flapper dresses fringed with beads or crafted from chiffon velvet burnt out to create Odeonesque panels and even Gaultier’s signature, in a Constructivist typeface, with a provocatively positioned G. Unusually for the Paris couture, Gaultier has his own in-house embroidery workrooms and once again they produced a series of extraordinarily inventive pieces, including a sheath dress covered in dense Art Deco beadwork, with a whalebone neckline and pocket, and fishnet composed of a trellis of tiny jet beads. –Hamish Bowles for vogue.com
Jean Paul Gaultier
Fall 2012 Couture Collection
There’s little doubt that posterity will recognize Jean Paul Gaultier as one of the all-time greats, but it will also have to recognize the profligacy of his genius, the carelessness with mere bagatelles like, the way the extravagantly throwaway has always shared catwalk space with fiercely disciplined, beautifully crafted clothes. Haute couture has indulged both those impulses to an extreme for the designer, so the pendulum swing of consensus on his couture is unsurprisingly determined by which impulse dominates. Today, mercifully, it was discipline and craft.
That’s probably what happens when you have a presiding spirit as wayward as Pete Doherty, the voice on the soundtrack, the star of Sylvie Verheyde’s adaptation of nineteenth century poet Alfred de Musset’s Confession of a Child of the Century, which was the spark of the collection. Once you’d ascertained (thank you, Wiki!) that de Musset’s grand amour was the novelist George Sand, who scandalized mid-nineteenth century Paris by wearing men’s clothes and smoking in public, Gaultier’s collection slotted with the greatest of ease into his series of salutes to everything that has ever made Paris so justifiably full of itself. Erin O’Connor opened the show as Sand, in top hat, tailcoat, and gentleman’s fob. She was followed by a set of Gaultier’s peerless meditations on Le Smoking, including a silhouette that quoted Dior’s Bar silhouette. It was never a secret that Gaultier would have been a logical candidate for the top job at Dior when Galliano got the gig. This season, when Dior is once again the big story with the Simons ascendancy, there was a certain poignancy in such reminders of that long-ago dream.
But Gaultier went on to prove how he owns his decadent, romantic, polymorphous fashion sensibility. Sand’s tailcoat came back time and again, in crocodile, in camel, in the “male couture” that Gaultier inserted with a wincing lack of subtlety, and in the bridal finale, where the tails were splayed across a white skirt in front while the lapels were extended into swan’s wings in back. The designer also paraded silken kimono-styled eveningwear that conveyed the fin de siècle feel of outfits named after characters from Proust, Huysmans, and Wilde. The colors—absinthe, coral, gold, papal purple—were the colors of opium dreams. Gaultier amplified the Beaux Arts mood by including a couple of articulated automatons. They could have been the robot from Metropolis. Or maybe they were sisters of the Georges Méliès creation that featured in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Better that way — Gaultier’s collections are always a love song to Paris. –style.com + photos courtesy of GoRunway.com