Le Grand Rex, the largest cinema theater in Europe, and one of the most atmospheric, with its ravishing 1932 interiors intact (all scrolling plasterwork and boxes like mansions), was the perfect setting for Jean Paul Gaultier’s swan song in ready-to-wear.
As the master moves on to focus exclusively on his haute couture, he unveiled his final spring prêt collection to a full house that included Catherine Deneuve, Amanda Lear, Boy George, and a slew of designers—Alber Elbaz, Gareth Pugh,Rick Owens, and Jeremy Scott amongst them.
Master of Ceremonies Alex Taylor, aided and abetted by Rossy de Palma, in Alexis Carrington Colby black-and-white, announced the categories in the “Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015” competition. Rossy, incidentally, was soon disrobing to work the runway in her hourglass girdle.
Gaultier managed to weave in many of the tropes that have been his design signatures through the decades—from the matelot stripes (transformed into fringe) to the famed corset dresses (inspired by his grandmother’s stays that fascinated him as a little boy) to the man-tailored pinstripes and “smoking” tuxedos that here, with his deft technical léger de main, seemed to dissolve into scarves to drape one shoulder. There was Gaultier wit aplenty—an umbrella-shaped mini-crinnie fashioned from rubberized strips, for instance, and the professional cyclist kit (a trend of the season) branded with the word Logo.Gaultier took a classic cowboy bandana and used its print as a motif to perforate leather, or in a pavé of Swarovski crystals to embellish micro-denim pieces (for the section titled Miss WAGS—wives and girlfriends of soccer players). Miss Lucha Libre brought out a bevy of beauties disguised with Mexican wrestler masks, which Gaultier also used as an embroidery motif on tiered Frida Kahlo ball-gown skirts.
Miss Vintage saw a gaggle of women d’un certain age, on the arms of lightly clad but heavily built swains, but my personal favorite, naturally, was the Miss Rédactrice de Mode category (“if they don’t like you, you’re dead as a dodo,” noted the commentator, tartly) that included, hysterically, doppelgängers of Suzy, Carine, Emmanuelle, Franca—and our very own Grace.
As the rainfall of golden confetti fell on all this fun, it was a moment to reflect on the sheer genius of this unparalleled creator whose ready-to-wear—for almost four decades—has upturned gender stereotypes, reimagined tailoring, taken us on romps around the world—and clothed the world’s most adventurous women in clothes of inventive elegance and wit. Chills, dearie.