Jean Paul Gaultier lived up to his showman’s reputation again at Paris Couture Week July 8. For his latest collection he staged a cinematic spectacle. Each area of the auditorium was named after a film studio, girls handed out ice creams and the show began with the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare.
In case the audience members were still in any doubt about the celluloid concept, the outfits were also named after films and actresses. Many of these interpretations were about as subtle – and often as raunchy – as Jane Russell’s décolletage in The Outlaw, but they were intentionally entertaining.
The first look, named after the film Le Mepris, consisted of a leather trenchcoat and seamed stockings worn by pouting model Lara Stone, who had her blonde hair in a beehive and lashings of eyeliner just like the film’s star Brigitte Bardot. Other ensembles included a Battleship Potemkin look, which consisted of quilted taffeta sailor trousers and a cropped pea coat, and a futuristic gold leather corset dubbed Barbarella and made from 3D dodecahedron panels.
Other touches of humour came from trimmings that resembled outstretched rolls of film, and the final wedding dress – a tiny gold lace tiered confection worn with visible white stockings – felt like more of a luxe take on the chorus line look than something suited to the altar. Behind all the theatricality and overt sexuality however, there was plenty of the fine tailoring and sensual rendering of Parisian classics that captivates Gaultier’s clients. He showed wide masculine suit trousers and dresses with trench detailing, and various takes on Le Smoking, including a sleeveless leather tuxedo jacket with sequinned lapels.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel show, late the previous evening, also played with iconic imagery of its own – several giant white Chanel No. 5 bottles formed the centrepiece of the catwalk.
It was a monolithic message, and the show’s recurring motifs were accordingly straightforward. There was a play on proportion between short and long, and a tailcoat-like panel appeared at the back of numerous tweed or silk dresses and jackets, often longer than the rest of the garment. On some of the coats the straight flap seemed like an afterthought, but on evening dresses it combined grandeur and a less formal coquettishness simultaneously.
A black velvet dress flecked with sequins featuring a short bell-shaped skirt over a long sheer net was a highlight. After a peal of bells, the show was closed by a bridal mini-dress with a tutu-like skirt and grand ruffled train.