Paris Haute Couture Week, the window where the biggest names in couture fashion descend upon France’s capital to showcase exquisite craftsmanship and the crème de la crème of fashion design. This is the opportunity for designers to present their art in the purest form, on the catwalk.
On Wednesday 22 January Jean Paul Gaultier completed his last-ever show, marking his retirement from a career spanning 50 years. For me, this show represented everything JPG, it was clear that it was a celebration of an iconic and influential catalogue portfolio, one that has provided a sizeable contribution to the fashion world. The catwalk was alight with famous celebrity friends, muses and models, who brought their all to celebrate the designer, including Joan Smalls, Dita Von Teese, Tanel Bredrossaintz, the Hadid sisters, Coco Rocha and Winnie Harlow. Boy George sang ‘Back to Black’, a reference to the Amy Winehouse inspired show, and also a good fit for the funeral of the fashion house.
Jean Paul Gaultier is known for breaking convention his corset and lingerie styles are something of a trademark, this show presented classic underwear as outerwear but also outerwear as off-body-wear with shirts and tailored jackets placed in front of the body as a cover-up rather than worn in a traditional way. Skirts and dresses made of nude-pink satin belts gave a whole new meaning to ‘Do you want a skirt with that belt?’. There was a strong theme of upcycling and recycling with long gloves and hosiery used to make skirts, men’s and women’s dresses made of pattern ties, and even a mini skirt made of leather jacket parts.
The nude, pink and cream tones of corsets and tulle outfits brought to mind a Parisian bedroom scene, taking you to another place in time and location. Following this, it wouldn’t have been an acceptable goodbye without the signature stripes and in your face ‘Ahoy there sailor’ Gaultier is famed for. Gigi Hadid modelled a strong sailor look with a rippling statement-flare and a top piece, that for me, brought to life the signature fragrance bottles – the silhouette of the corsetted, smooth feminine curved figure mixed with the striped, linear torso of the masculine bottle.
There was a whole denim story section to the show, we saw denim framework sleeves and pant legs, and hooped-skirt structures all of which looked gravity defiant in the typically heavier material. An unlikely denim umbrella even graced the catwalk, certainly unpractical but gets you wondering whether we will see knockoffs of the perhaps useless statement piece appear on influencer-heavy etailer sites anytime soon…
The 2020 haute couture show gave the audience everything they wanted and more, from minimalist white his and hers tuxedos to Karlie Kloss dressed in a gown made of recycled bubble wrap, a happy amount of coned bras (which became as one with Madonna through her career) and fetish-esque latex, not at all forgetting the blow-up doll full dress piece which was fabulously out-there. We got woodland tones of green and brown, tribal jewellery, show-stopping gowns and rock leather, all in one chic party-come-catwalk and final au revoir from France’s l‘enfant terrible of fashion.
This may be the end of Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture (although he has stated his “Haute Couture will continue but with a new concept), but it’s just the beginning of the upcoming Fashion Weeks. Stay tuned as we account, predict and even display our own AW20.