Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Fall Winter 2012 Paris

It is a pity that a fashion show could ever be doomed before it has even begun, but that seemed to be the case at the Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture show. All goodwill for the designer went out the window when it was announced, almost a hour after the official start time, that the audience would have to wait another 20 minutes for the show to begin. When it finally did get under way (a good hour and a half late) the rising heat in the room was caused as much by the steam coming out of the ears of everyone who felt like they had been held hostage at the venue as it was by the hot summer day.

This is a shame because Gaultier is never better than when he is exploring one of his favorite sartorial subjects: the man/woman definition of dress. This season it was the turn of the century that took the designer’s fancy. Using the cross dressing George Sand as his muse Gaultier returned to the  tried and true designs that have become the hallmarks of the brand to get his point across. There was the expertly crafted smoking tuxedo that came cut as everything from a one piece suit and a one sleeved dress (worn by a male model) to a tube top tuxedo pants jumpsuit or a jacket with tail and sleeves cut from black leather. The tailcoat was a key feature to a number of outfits worn by both male and female models on the catwalk. They spilled out the back of a cropped trench coat, grew out of legs of a purple jet beaded jumpsuit or were worn backwards on the unforgettable bride, the lapels looking like wings on the model's back.

If all of those ideas looked familiar, there were some interesting new areas explored by the designer in this show. Particularly the examination of Art Deco designs in the silk kimonos, jewel hued devore velvet dresses that finished off with fringe or those crafted from jacquard taffeta and embellished with shimmering lurex.

There is no deigning that this was a labor intensive collection. Rumor has it that was the reason the show was so late (some of the outfits had not been finished in time). Unfortunately all of that hard work was lost on many in the audience that just wanted to go home and take a cold shower to wash off the sweltering day.   

-Jessica Michault


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