If seeing is believing, the new Jean Paul Gaultier collection was unbelievable. The majority of the crowd couldn't see it. Since abandoning the formal runway show a few seasons back, Team JPG has experimented with left-field exhibition tactics. This season, it was a neon-trimmed row of cubbies cordoned off behind a velvet rope. With the three-deep scrum of photographers that crowded every inch along the rope to shoot, most of the audience was left taking in an ambient neon glow and a solid wall of backs.
It proved, actually, to be a gloss of sorts on the collection, which riffed on hide-and-seek. Eventually seen from above—the only visible vantage—the curtained, neon-lit frames called to mind the windows of Amsterdam's red-light district. When the models emerged from behind the drapes and began stripping, piece by piecemeal piece (many were partial items in the old favorite Gaultier sense: half jackets, shirts cropped to the rib cage, turtleneck dickeys, and so on), the scene was set.
The sense of vintage hung heavy over the whole. There were sharp bits of tailoring among the pinstripe-on-pinstripe looks; detach the jacket-tail skirts, and you actually had JPG in a more straight-faced mode than he's been in for seasons. But that the man can cut a suit doesn't add much to the current conversation, and the layers of half jacket on half top with half sweater felt like a rehashed quip. But then, the thing about stripteases is, they're rarely about the clothes.