Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Spring Summer 2013 Paris
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The bright orange invitation was the first clue that Jean Paul Gaultier was taking the fashion world on a trip to the exotic and colorful country of India. Gaultier doing an Indian inspired show? With so many references to choose from it should have been a theme that the witty and inventive designer could really sink his creative teeth into.
 
But that ended up not being the case.
 
Astonishingly Gaultier’s collection was rather reserved, and a bit repetitive. Actually, it felt more like a trip to New Delhi that had a long layover in Seville.  An impression underlined by the first few models.  Wearing their hair in high “Amy Winehouse” beehives that finished off in swinging braids in the back and sporting long dresses in different broad band stripes that cut vertically, horizontally, or with a slightly diagonal decent, it was hard to miss the Spanish vibe. Then Gaultier offered up a number of his classic designs (a black tuxedo, a trench dress, a silk lingerie bustier ensemble) that looked only slightly updated from past incarnations.  Even that might be thanks to the Indian accessories and the sliver painted feet the models slipped into platform heels.
 
Where were the colorful saris, the ghagra cholis, the churidars or even a pair of Dhoti and a thickly embroidered sherwani coat?
 
When the designer did bring a bit of strong color into the collection, like on a purple dress with an off the shoulders peasant top covered with sliver thread curlicue embroidery down the skirt, it looked more like a luxe Spanish gypsy costume than something inspired by the Darjeeling district. Ditto on the patchwork print dress with a ruffled flamingo skirt.
 
However, there were some bright spots in the show. When Gaultier made a crazy-quilt print out of traditional sari patterns but did it on a long black silk coat, embellished with sliver leaf appliqué at the shoulders and worn with matching pants, it was an original way to interpret the traditional fabric. Also, a fringed white crocodile skin jacket covered in a red earth colored Tolie de Jouy Indian motif print, which matched the one created out of a mosaic effect down the bodice of the coordinating dress, was masterfully done. These outfits proved that Gaultier could be adventurous with his subject matter if he would just let himself go.


In the end the designer has to thank four little girls for redeeming the show’s Indian theme. At the last moment, when the bride stood at the top of the catwalk in her extra wide wedding dress and then proceeded to lift up the hem to reveal laughing Indian schoolgirls in brightly colored dresses who then ran down the catwalk hand in hand, that was when Gaultier finally got everything right.  

- Jessica Michault

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