PARIS — It was adieu to Jean Paul Gaultier’s ready-to-wear.
The one-time enfant terrible, who turned fashion on its head and Madonna’s bra into a feminist symbol, gave his last curtain call Saturday to a much-deserved standing ovation.
In attendance were celebrities from the film, music and fashion worlds, including actress Catherine Deneuve, singer Boy George, as well as designers Alber Elbaz and Rick Owens.
The 62-year-old Gaultier last week shocked the fashion world with the announcement he’s quitting his men’s and women’s ready-to-wear lines.
But this was not a time for nostalgia for the larger-than-life Gaultier, who has said he’s simply tired of the inhuman pace of the current fashion industry, and wishes to concentrate on his lucrative and highly imaginative haute couture.
“Do I look sad?” he asked The Associated Press, following his electrifying show spectacle.
“So many pretty girls have kissed me tonight!”
Here are the highlights and show reports from Saturday’s spring-summer 2015 collections.
GAULTIER’S READY-TO-WEAR CURTAIN CALL
Following recent lukewarm reviews that cattily branded the once-avant garde designer “irrelevant,” Gaultier finally let his ready-to-wear ship set sail.
And what a send off.
In a high-octane theatrical homage – inside Paris’ dusty Grand Rex cinema – the showman put on a five-part journey through his design-archive as well as his wacky imagination. This, all through a “Miss France” beauty pagent theme.
In fashion terms, the pinstripes looks were among the strongest: abstracted in shorts, asymmetrical suits and truncated jackets. So were the menswear tuxedo jackets – dissected and mixed up with shimmery silver disco minidresses, for the obligatory Gaultier dash of fun.
But this was all about the spectacle.
To rapturous applause, the “Miss Tour de France” sections involved muscle-bound cyclists riding around the stage. And one part, called “Miss Vintage,” showcased the top models of yesterday, such as 82-year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice, strutting their stuff.
Gaultier’s energy in the ready-to-wear calendar will be sorely missed.
FASHION ICON SUZY MENKES PARODIED BY GAULTIER
One of the sections of the Gaultier show was called “Miss Fashion Editors” – a competition to see which of the top editors, parodied by lookalikes, had THE best look. U.S. Vogue’s Grace Coddington’s double (model Magdalena Jasek) minced down the runway with billowing red hair to cheers, as the real Grace laughed from the side.
While French Vogue Editor Emanuelle Alt’s character just couldn’t stop texting on her iPhone as she strutted down the podium (a jab at the fact the real Alt is often spotted in the front row glued to her cell.)
But the loudest cheers, of course, came for the iconic Suzy Menkes, the fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune for nearly 30 years . Her double – model Lindsey Wixson – sported a large, and very recognizable quiff.
“It was great. To see myself at half my age,” Menkes quipped to The Associated Press.
“Gaultier has such showmanship. Over the years, he’s given fashion – and me – so much. He deserved this standing ovation. I was the first to my feet,” she added.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD’S LITTLE BO PEEPSHOW
There was something spooky in the air at Vivienne Westwood’s imaginative house-of-horrors spectacle.
Discordant organ music piped out in the gilded Paris venue, while ornate doors opened to reveal mirrors behind them, eerily reflecting the audience’s faces back.
The looks continued in this haunted theme – that channeled 18th century children’s fairy stories.
It started with a Little Bo Peep look in a tied purple cape.
Then there was the smudged lipstick (or blood) on models, the historical milkmaid hats, Juliette sleeves, haunted-looking gray cassocks, baskets as headwear, and, finally, the 18th century princess gowns in surreally off-kilter lime.
“Oh, I always do the historical stuff. But, here it was mixed with horrors, bad children and magic,” Westwood said after the show, wearing a necklace made out of horse chestnuts, of course, instead of pearls.
There was a 1700’s swag in the flared sleeves and skirts of the billowing silhouettes, which added to the funky, haunted feel.
Draped dresses – a Westwood signature – came aplenty, with bows and sometimes masses of piled fabric at the back.
But the parts of the show that got the most attention were the flashes of gold (like an infinitely funky shimmering tarbud) and the flashings of nudity, including a woman and a man whose private parts were almost on display.
Call it the “Little Bo Peepshow.”
MUGLER PROVES THERE’S LIFE AFTER LADY GAGA
Following the departure of designer Nicola Formichetti – and, with him, his friend Lady Gaga, who brought renewed interest to the house – there’s been a lot of speculation as to what the future holds for the Mugler label.
But Saturday’s debut catwalk show from Georgian-born designer David Koma will silence critics – it was a success.
The house said it wanted to go back to the pure clothes design (presumably, this means away from the Lady Gaga-like hysteria) and this spring-summer show was just that.
With an almost couture-like finesse, Koma brought the Mugler woman back to the structured, sexy yet demure aesthetic for which it is famed. (Mugler was, afterall, responsible for that Demi Moore dress in “Indecent Proposal.”)
Luxuriant graphic tuxedos in navy and black as well as sanitized, sharp-edged white sporty dresses were featured alongside silver snaking bands coiling around the body near slits, exposed midriffs and necks.
Then came the fire: flashes of flame red on a sporty vest, a lengthy figure-hugging pencil skirt, or a flame print licking the breasts of a model in a bright, bold diabolical sheath.
VIKTOR AND ROLF’S CURTAIN CALL
Dutch duo Viktor and Rolf, who’ve had some lukewarm seasons, seem to be going from strength to strength since they revived their couture line last year.
It’s injected their ready-to-wear with a freshness and imagination that was also apparent in Saturday’s show.
Set in the ornate Residence des Pays-Bas in central Paris, the catwalk was framed by two grand hanging curtains.
And when the 33 layered, sporty looks drew by, it was almost as if the setting had morphed into the clothes.
Curtain-like decorative patterns, thick rippled fabric layers under skirts, sheeny curtain-like finishes came alongside ruffles in masses of gathered material.
Was this Viktor and Rolf’s “Sound of Music” moment ?
Elsewhere, sporty shorts and leggings, with colored stripes down the sides subverted this play with fabric.
Whatever the inspiration, this abstract collection, was great.