The opening blast of "Sgt. Pepper" made sense when Jean Paul Gaultier mentioned John Lennon as something of an influence on his latest collection (though the song was Paul's). He also name-checked Michael Jackson, which possibly explained some of the show's weirder elements (a hot-pink travel pillow in the shape of a sleeping cat?). But then he said his real intention was a tribute to cultish French singer Philippe Katerine, and the obtuseness of that allusion for anyone outside France immediately underscored the oddness of the clothes. They were infused with Katerine's taste for outlandish, incongruous getups: silky black harem pants tucked into army boots, full culottes under a white trench, a pinstriped waiter's jacket topping a silver sarong, a teal pilot's jacket (was it Qantas?) worn over a Speedo.
Gaultier has always had a ken for the gender-bend (one's heart went out to the beefcake who had to suffer the catwalk in laced britches and kitten-heeled boots) but he's typically balanced his follies with eminently desirable tailoring. Here, the balance was off, though there was one baggy-trousered suit in the designer's signature pinstripes, and another all-white group looked rather appealingly like a tailor's toiles. Gaultier's equally signature affection for trompe l'oeil appeared as a tie woven into a waistcoat. Katerine should enjoy the gilded denim pieces, and the Speedo with the big brass buttons practically has his name on it.