Mr. Gaultier is the Parisian king of kitsch, a man who has made fashion theater for decades and is unafraid of the thematic statements that others overlook and dismiss in search of that elusive fashion holy grail. Instead, he found his years ago, drawing boundless inspiration from his homeland of France, and today’s homage to its northwestern limits (Brittany, to be exact) was a rip-roaring celebration of all things Gallic, from the crepes served preshow to the traditional “coiffe” headpieces he rejigged in black lace.
The iconic cotton striped Bretonnière top, J.P.’s all-time signature calling card, found myriad declinations here; as the blue-tipped spiral of a pleated circle skirt, bumblebee kneesocks, or the plush devoré sleeve of a sheer boatneck blouse. Evolving the region’s nautical connotations, resplendent yellow gold embroideries shone atop asymmetric breastplates and the collars of mannish outerwear, or in bands of bright orange down a moiré silk trench, lending the collection a graphic punch that culminated in a glistening feathered evening coat lined with fern-patterned velvet.
Contrasting its more folksy moments, the passage of zigzagging ensembles channeled pure eighties Gaultier glamour in chevron brocade or glossy silk satin, where sliced, pagoda shoulders, two-tone peplums, and a cinched waist carved an angular silhouette. Those structured yet sexy looks traced familiar territory for the designer and eclipsed the exaggerated circular forms of many a bibbed peasant top or high-waisted round skirt. Although they twisted the generous apron dresses of Brittany’s local costume with a comic edge, none succeeded more so than Anna Cleveland’s Breton bride, her flat-pack wedding dress made from an engraved deerskin exploding with fringe and tulle.