With their towering topknots and extra-dark shades, Jean Paul Gaultier's models looked like a corps of Parisian Bond girls setting out on an impossibly chic Greek odyssey. He likes a travel theme, and a strong woman, Jean Paul. (For proof of the latter, there was no need to look farther than the front row, where Madonna, his original eighties co-conspirator, was perched, causing much excitement and an hour's delay.)
But to the clothes. We've been to Russia and India with J.P.G. Tours in recent seasons. Now ancient Greece, via the Cyclades, has popped up on his itinerary, with all the picture-postcard costume opportunities that entails. Foustanellas (the multipleated short white skirts worn by evzone soldiers), goddess dresses (with a wave to Madame Grès), village-made cropped vests, and harem pants all made appearances.
If that conceit (or the very idea that a collection needs a conceit, for that matter) seems a tad anachronistic, Gaultier got away with it. His extraordinary powers of translation transform even the cheesiest souvenirs into covetable pieces. There was nothing folksy about the show's gold embroidery, nor its marvelously draped chiffon. And though corsets and bubble dresses can't actually be found in the Greek history books, who would have chosen to miss the white, minutely pleated bustier worn with navy pants, or the miraculous mille-feuille of pink chiffon trotted out by Mariacarla?