Amy Winehouse might be a hard act to follow musically, but her personal style was so cartoon-graphic that it loans itself easily to carbon copies. Jean Paul Gaultier proved as much today with his latest show. The beehive, the eye makeup, the beauty spot, the clothes with their tarty fifties flavor, like the gang leader's girlfriend in a teens-running-wild exploitation pic—all these were present and incorrect on Gaultier's couture catwalk. Wait, couture? The last refuge of everything that is rare, precious, and beautiful in the world of fashion? And Amy
Winehouse, resolute wearer of baby-boy-size Fred Perry polo shirts?
Yet, unlikely as the union may seem, Gaultier managed to turn his couture presentation into both a celebratory send-off for Winehouse and a colorful addition to his gallery of beautiful oddities. That polo shirt was sexed up and alchemized into a back-buttoning dress with a G where the Fred Perry logo would be. Amy's tiny waist and penchant for pencil skirts shaped the silhouette, with a lot of help from London's corsetry wizard, Mr. Pearl (in fact, the show was as much about him as it was Winehouse). And the singer's brazen, devil-may-carelessness goosed the color palette (Karlie Kloss, camping and vamping in a huge green taffeta trench, followed on the heels of a guipure lace column in lurid orange). There was also a dishabille edge, with necklines draping asymmetrically, jackets slipping off shoulders, and bosoms bursting ripely forth.
Excess ultimately overwhelmed Winehouse, so it was true to her spirit that it had the same effect here—and there. Vinyl leggings will no longer be mentioned in polite company. But the couture spirit of JPG managed to assert itself with pieces like the pinstripe suit jacket that fell away into a shawl on one side, or a languidly decadent satin peignoir over jet-beaded pants, or a corset-backed gray silk parka that flipped open to reveal a lining of pink sequins.
At the finale, the models paraded in veils. Mourners? Brides? Handmaidens of Amy? Four guys performed doo-wop versions of Winehouse's songs throughout. They looked just like the Dap-Kings, who backed her on Back to Black. Really, all that was missing was the woman herself. So sad.