Jean Paul Gaultier looked to China for inspiration this season, turning out a vibrant, opulent collection that was a potpourri of historical references and lavish ornamental detailing.

Clip-clopping in their molded platforms and wearing ensembles with names like "Nuit de Chine," "Fu Manchu" and "Shanghai Express," Gaultier's Far-Eastern courtesans never fell out of character. Elaborate headpieces and makeup complemented precisely fitted cheongsams, pagoda-sleeved jackets, dragon-embroidered coats and Mandarin-collar tunics that would have made dowager Empress Tzu Hsi green with envy. Gaultier kept the mood light by throwing in adaptations of his signature oversize trenches (one in space-age silver lamé), razor blazers and tuxedos, and an outstanding tooled-leather, rust toreador jacket; everything was blended in with remarkable ease.

Whimsical touches included fox sleeves, a pink rabbit bolero, and a massive skirt constructed atop a float of tulle and taffeta and worn over fitted incandescent pants. "I wanted to do something more sensual than sexy," said Gaultier after his show. "The idea was to bring together everything that you imagine when you think of China—theater, movement, color, history and richness."