A quick nip into the Hermès boutique on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré on a fall Saturday and what's remarkable, beyond all the euros flying across the counter, is how international the customers are. Jean Paul Gaultier gave a nod to Hermès' increasingly multicultural clientele with a grand tour of India for Spring. It was something of a wink, too, because in signature J.P.G. form, he came close to camp in pursuit of his theme. There was the Hermès-orange backdrop that slowly turned cinnamon as spices drifted down it, and, of course, there was the headgear: turbans done up in colorful silk or crocodile, or the models' own hair twisted and pinned into a curvy topknot.
Gaultier started with white Nehru jackets worn over jodhpurs, proceeded to suede tunics with burnished brass embroidery and safari suits in navy or army green, and followed these with many variations on a colonialist's costume of knit vest over crisp, white button-down and pants tucked into riding boots. He also indulged in a bit of silk-scarf dressing. Evening presented two options: first, reinterpreted ribbon-edged saris swung up over one shoulder, or tunicsthese both worn with matching knee pants or leggingsand second, billowy silk gowns with trailing capes in lush jewel tones. Lose the over-the-top props, and these clothes are superluxe and unmistakably Hermès. (Where else can you get a pair of white-croc riding boots?) And that is precisely what all those shoppers are angling for.