Remember those heady days of the very early nineties, when the supermodel reigned supreme? And how some designers were up in arms about how much it cost to get them out of bed? Well, if only they'd stumbled on the stunt that Jean Paul Gaultier dreamed up for his show: Dispense with the latter-day supes, the Darias and the Liyas and the Karolinas, and use marionettes instead. (Oh, and a few model friends whom you have turned to time and again to walk your runway.) Working from a gantry erected onto the catwalk, Gaultier's puppeteers twirled their subjects round, even getting them to strike a few couture-y poses. But once the novelty wore off, did these puppets really make for an adequate substitute? The best runway-strutters project the same kind of allure radiated by Gaultier's guest Catherine Deneuve. Balsa tends to run a very poor second.
More importantly, did the clothes tug at the heartstrings of the audience? It was inevitable that they would a little, given that they represented Gaultier's homage to his own greatest hits. In a season where coats and jackets are shaping up to be more desirable than they have been in years, the designer's canny, commercial collection featured some of the best from his past, which looked just as good now. Standouts? A heavy herringbone tweed coat swathed in fox fur; a swingy, drop-shouldered navy caban; and an aviator jacket that mixed up a few of Gaultier's favorite thingstough distressed leather, Aran knitwear, corset lacing. And if these looks worked on life-size puppets, just think what they'll do when they make it onto real women.