Watch out! The Bolsheviks are storming Hermès! Oh, sorry, forget that. It's only dear old Jean Paul Gaultier up to his pranks again, taking the season's Russian mania in a naughtily communist direction for fall. No need to be too afraid: The Marxist-Leninist content of his collection boiled down to a few revolutionary caps (in butter-soft suede) and Red Guard fur hats (earflaps flying); a single constructivist intarsia knit; and a lot of Russian-themed music on the sound system. As for the rest, it was so conservatively superluxurious and feminine, it turned out to be J.P.'s best outing for the house so far.
The main points of his manifesto were lots of shearling, tailored jackets in corduroy, and fit-and-flare skirtsa sort of ultra-upper-class parallel to what Christopher Bailey is up to at Burberry. Gaultier's sober pinstripe suits, classic gray flannel blazers, and even the reversible crocodile cinch-belted jackets, finally have that enviable softness that was formerly missing. Meanwhile, the designer found ways of running through the house's horsy heritage. Jackets cut from cashmere plaid blankets had fringe running down sleeves and around collars, and a crystal horse-bit brooch was pinned to a shearling hat. Even the famous Hermès silk print scarves were amplified for a fashion moment: sewn as the lining of a bronze metallic puffer or wittily smothering the outside of a Kelly bag.
Still, Gaultier's couture background means he can also be serious about cutting a mean evening dress. Hermès hardly has a reputation for after dark, but Gaultier's decadent, intensely purple velvet halter, and a long emerald velvet evening dress, ought to put the house on the party list this season. Though it's not quite the party comrade Lenin was thinking about.