In one of his signature mixings of high and low, Jean Paul Gaultier showed his haute couture collection in his new headquarters, a turn-of-the-century worker's club called L'Avenir du Prolétariat ("the future of the working class").
The designer, as usual, gave each outfit a name. The opener, "Amélie," was a black stretch crepe dress with a transparent polka-dot halter top named for Audrey Tautou's character in the much-loved film. "Place des Abbesses," meanwhile, was a black wool smoking worn wide open across the chest, while "Gay Paree" was a strictly tailored suit with culottes in fine tennis stripes. Gaultier described his collection as being about "a woman who dresses, then heads out for a torrid night," and individual pieces embodied the transformation from daywear into something saucier. A slinky pantsuit has a plunging rear décolleté; a gabardine jacket transforms into a spaghetti-strap dress; a trenchcoat, buttoned tight, mutates into a jaunty champagne-silk dress. By the time cocktail hour arrives, Gaultier's woman is living it up in a shiny silk Jacquard peignoir, a denim corset cut back to the boning and finished with long fringe sleeves, or a long red tressed dress that goes from fine-weave at the bust to wide and chunky at the knee, finally exploding in a blur of chiffon. Or she might simply settle for "Can Can": a pom-pom of flesh-colored tulle tied at the waist with a black velvet bow.
Backstage, Gwyneth Paltrow, in an emerald-green Gaultier cheongsam top, declared the show "fantastic." Andrée Putman uttered "merveilleux," and Mouna Al-Ayoub cooed, "I'm speechlessand that doesn't happen too often!"