The couture faithful at Jean Paul Gaultier may not have literally expected a full religious experience, but that's what they got, complete with a large puff of incense and a visitation by the saints. From first to last, every model wore a halo. Their faces were painted like plaster statues, their garb inspired by the vernacular devotional art found in local churches throughout the Catholic world.
Was it an outrage? Well, not really. Gaultier has treated religion in some very provocative ways, not the least of which was, way back, a tableau of the crucified Christ. But this time, the tone, if not precisely reverential, wasn¿t calculated to mock. Instead, his ingenious skews on church iconography seemed gently appreciative of its capacity for shining beauty.
Not that he wasn't witty about it. What looked like monastic hoods and nunlike wimples were, in fact, integral stoles that spiraled from the back of a chic black dress or a pair of pants (revealing some sexy slices of skin on the way). Lace and crochet-work commonly used to decorate shrines were remade into formfitting gowns. And the colorsfaded pinks, cobwebby gray, and Madonna bluewere lifted from hand-tinted holy cards and stained glass.
Result? Shorn of the odd bleeding Sacred Heart and communion chalice appliqué, there's plenty in this collection that qualifies as Jean Paul Gaultier couture at its best.