March 10, 2009 Paris
Jean Paul Gaultier's old-school pun mania can be trying at times, but on this occasion he, well, winged it with aplomb. It's a season of leather, after all, and since Hermès is the ultimate seat of luxurious skins and superb tooling, the conceit gave full vent to the house expertise. There were fur-collared crocodile bombers, leather jumpsuits, and mink-lined gilets. These were mixed with flannel pants, gray tunic knits (some patched with astrakhan), super-slim leg-hugging suede boots, and matte gray Kelly bags.
Women in uniform is another aspect of the forties mood that's floating around this Fall, so the spirit of Gaultier's show cross-referenced knowingly with the mainstream flow of fashion. In truth, though, Hermès' appeal is most persuasive when the styling is at its furthest distance from seasonal trendiness. That's especially the case in an era when such costly purchases should come with a lifetime guarantee of utility. Thus, a gray-flannel toggle coat with a generous hood (zippered like an MA-1) stood out over the more obvious crocodile status symbols. And for evening it was a black, bias-cut satin dress that carried the sort of classic grace and subtlety that should have Carla Bruni-Sarkozy placing an order pronto.