This is Jean Paul Gaultier's 30th anniversary year, and after Janet Jackson and other tardy celebs had finally taken their seats, he started a celebration that will continue at a big fête Saturday night by recapping his greatest hits. He began with a man's motorcycle jacket with "76" and the French flag painted on the back, breezed past the bustier dresses with cone-shaped busts that Madonna made famous, and finished with a trompe l'oeil sheath with just one built-in jacket lapel. Together, the 30-plus pieces—some of which looked broken-in, like his friends had just pulled them from their closets—showcased Gaultier's incomparable visual wit.

It's a gift he made liberal use of in the new clothes he showed for next spring. With Jane Fonda on the loudspeakers asking, "Are you ready to work out?" the curtains parted to reveal models sweating away on glittery gym machines. But his sport references went beyond jokey visors, wristbands, and tube socks with heels. Satin baseball jackets came in countless color variations, some with Japanese embroidery, others with "30" emblazoned on their backs, and yet more rendered in sequined mesh. For day, these might be paired with leggings striped at the side or shorts; for night, piping was replaced by seams of crystals and cutouts at the shoulders and back. Pushing the concept to the limit, he closed with a halter gown cut to reveal a bikini top underneath, veiled by a sheer warm-up jacket.

By the time his next big milestone rolls around, which pieces from this upbeat, item-y collection will make the cut? Sans the leggings, the baby dolls in acid brights have a shot. Overall, you couldn't help feeling that spring came out a trifle insubstantial compared to the history lesson in his archives. In true Gaultier style, though, it all looked like plenty of fun.