Thank God for Jean Paul Gaultier. After four days of endless glittery shows, overdressed celebrities, jewellery collections worth the GDP of a small country and all sorts of unabashed luxury, the French designer’s super fun narrative and strictly fashion take on artisanal artistry felt like a breeze of fresh Breton air. For once, it was not a crowd of scary-looking security guards and celeb-spotting passersby waiting at the entrance of the show at Gaultier’s HQ rue Saint Martin, but the sweet, buttery smell of crêpes. Guests nibbled on them and drank French cider as they sat down. The suspicion that the collection itself was entirely inspired by Brtittany was confirmed as bagpipes started to play and Anna Cleveland made her way onto the catwalk, dramatically striding along in a very eighties way in a black velvet sailor top, a white mandala skirt and calfskin clogs. The finishing touch was a traditional coiffe bretonne in a marinière motif. Could things get any more Gaultier? Mais oui! There were variations on the designer’s trademark stripy t-shirt (worn underneath a velvet apron dress, as a sleeveless onesie paired with an impressive blue and brown mink coat and a lopsided sailor hat, as well as a silk crop top combined with a pleated milefeuille stripy skirt and cap…)
Nice redheads in apron skirts walked coyly, brazen harbour women strutted around with a smirk on their face and sailor tomboys smoked pipes, but for all the catwalk theatrics, eccentricity and impressive savoir-faire, the collection felt relatively pared down in comparison to most of what we’ve seen in the last few days. Instead of sequins, there was silk rope embroidered in ancestral Breton motifs. Rustic guipure in lieu of Chantilly lace. And where other use fur as a pure status symbol, Gaultier had fun with it, shamelessly playing with textures and colours (a bright orange mohair and fox coat left the guests inspired). The finale saw Cleveland gracefully walking as a bride in a tribal patchwork dress mixing tan calfskin, guipure lace and black and white tulle, before the designer himself joined her on the catwalk dancing to the Village People’s In The Navy. It was all good fun… and stunning craftsmanship. And it made us miss the time when he showed more than two collections a year – but then again, the refusal to adapt to today’s relentless fashion pace is just one more of the reasons why we love Gaultier.