paris fashion week|jean paul gaultier rtw fall 2011

For Jean Paul Gaultier’s non-French contingent at a loss when a fortysomething brunette with a giant, upswept bouffant wiggled down the runway to open and close the show, her name is Valérie Lemercier. One Paris resident described her as France’s answer to Tina Fey, a national comedic treasure. Indeed, a sense of humor was key to the show. (Whether anyone still had one after the hour delay is another story.) Gaultier called it “la bourgeoise sans age” — a send up of maturing beauties, who dress their age but still want a little sizzle with their steak. This was Gaultier at his most French, yet showing a different side. He worked the traditional codes of the upper class — thick tweeds, tailored trousers and ribbed cardigans — within his vocabulary, all while having a laugh. The models came dressed as matrons in gray beehives and tame kitten heels with just about everything in between covered up. Silk blouses, colorfully printed or plain, were buttoned all the way, some topped with a scarf. Turtlenecks were layered under long, straight dresses, and pants were cut with full, pleated legs. The outerwear stood out, not just because the coats were often discarded down the runway, as each girl liberated herself from something — a glove, a shoe, etc. — as part of the ongoing ultraconservative striptease gag. The best were trenches — tons of them — done half in leather, half in wool, and grand, quilted leather parkas with deluxe fur trim. Jumpsuits, with full sleeves and a little sparkle, were a nice alternative to the evening dress for chic women of a certain age. All joking aside, it was nice to see Gaultier address grown-ups, the kind who can afford to spend. And if taken alone the clothes were not overtly sexy. Well, that part has to come from whoever is wearing them.

 

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paris fashion week|jean paul gaultier rtw fall 2011