Nobody keeps the flag of haute couture flying quite like Jean Paul Gaultier. Immaculate tailoring, aching beauty and a playful sense of the absurd—all these were whipped up into a collection that reached the wildest shores of aspirational fashion.

Part of Gaultier’s journey into the imagination touched on Atlantis and ancient Greek mythology. That meant magical underwater colors, headdresses that looked like sea anemones and mother-of-pearl buttons used as decoration in myriad ways. These were followed by draped goddess dresses in knotted black chiffon or bright Cretan red, bound around with ropes of snaky silver. Somewhere along the line, the nymphs were joined by tulle-skirted dancers straight out of Degas, one in a ballerina dress with a crystal-encrusted bodice that was slashed up the front and worn over a pair of mannish pants. Logical? Of course not—just another chance for Gaultier to keep his audience guessing.

The designer’s cheeky sense of humor also showed up in trompe l’oeil pieces that spoofed the idea of formal dressing with what looked like suits and shirts suspended in front of the models’ bodies. But amid all the playfulness, it was as clear as ever that Gaultier’s tuxedo tailoring is a first-class investment, cut to last a lifetime.