A sun rose on the backdrop, there was a light haze of steam over the catwalk, and Bobbie Gentry was singing "Ode to Billie Joe." The omens were good for one of Jean Paul Gaultier's twisty, boundary-pushing exercises in male…Oops! Wrong-o! As refreshing as his beardy, straw-chewin' bunch of good ole boys was in light of the pallid ingenues who continue to stalk Europe's runways, Gaultier gave us a collection that trod water. He can do this sort of stuff with one arm—hell, both arms—tied behind his back. Master tailor, master craftsman, master provocateur—maybe it's hard for him to know how to play that blend in the current fashion climate.

But there are always gorgeous bits in a Gaultier collection. Here, a glazed linen safari suit, the checked items (he remains a fantastic colorist), and a brown leather biker jacket, whose appeal may have been its uncomplicated unambiguity. But the sneaky suspicion lingers that maybe he actually has done it all—and familiarity is working its chill effect.