Trust Jean Paul Gaultier to push couture to the limits of wit and wonder. In a season when the melding of disparate influences has been showing up all over Paris, the designer was inspired by the twin notions of high-tech morphing and surrealism. He took the current trend for long boots and grew it out of all sane proportions into hooded skintight bodysuits that formed the basis of everything in the collection.
Gaultier’s women often looked like an army of bizarre robots, embellished with surreal details and accessories. A model in a flannel suit, for instance, sported a Magritte-style flannel pipe to match. A black one-shouldered evening gown was worn over a flesh-colored bodysuit on which a heart, veinsthe entire circulatory system, in factwere traced in red sequins.
Gaultier loves to entertain by tricking the eye, but the genius of this collection was the way he managed to nod to the season while displaying the development of his own classics along the way. Joking apart, he showed a great croc stole-cum-bolero with a shaggy fox edge, an amazing mauve pinched-waist skirt suit in velvet, a couple of fringed flapper dresses, and one of his signature black trenches with a dippy hemline. Any of these could be taken off the runway and worn in normal life without the slightest difficulty.
Still, the strongest image was a hallucinatory outfit that fused gilded, bejeweled body armor with a finely layered silver mesh Charleston dress. Way over-the-top? Absolutely. But this is the kind of visionary spectacle that makes haute couture the greatest fashion show on earth.