October 03, 2008 Paris
Only a branded thoroughbred as sure-footed as an Hermès filly could possibly tread this trail with such a sense of fun. The kitsch risk was high, but Gaultier made it look natural: Hermès = equestrian heritage + sophisticated world traveler, after all. His quick mind for the crossover pun also found a way to twist the classic house scarf as a bandanna, and even to tame a poncho to supreme elegance, rendering it in square-cut cashmere knits and slinky jersey day dresses. And the accessories were all-out amazing: soft suede riding boots, mirrored aviators, driving/riding gloves, slim crocodile envelope clutches, handheld canvas-and-leather suitcases, and (whoa, ladies!) even a fringed Birkin.
If the Mexican striped-serape section (with cigars) went a bit too far, Gaultier reined in the references in good time to ensure that the after-dark etiquette of the Elysée Palace wasn't thrown into disarray. Take off the hat and strip away a bit of bandolier leather-work, et voilà: long, sinuous deep purple or green gowns with Madame Sarkozy's name stamped all over them. Result: Even if the luxury-goods gold rush is tailing off elsewhere, there's no sign of an end to the stampede for Hermès classics (fringe-wear or no) on the horizon.