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Gaultier Soars With Whimsical Elegance

“Beauty and the Beast” might just be the perfect fashion fable, rich as it is with irresistible counterpoint.

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“Beauty and the Beast” might just be the perfect fashion fable, rich as it is with irresistible counterpoint — male and female, good and evil, light and dark — with true beauty conquering all in the end. Taking his cue from Cocteau’s Surrealist version of the story for his collection on Friday, Jean Paul Gaultier had a haute field day, closing out this most peculiar season on a soaring note.

The designer has worked his share of megathemes and handled this one deftly, almost never sacrificing chic for a sight gag, even while extending his models’ hair into perfectly molded top hats, morphing a chandelier into an evening gown or providing a stuffed rooster a permanent perch on the sleeve of a somber black coat. For that matter, cutting a chiffon gown to mimic the human skeleton while looking fabulous is no easy feat, but such skill is what couture is about.

All of Gaultier’s beloved classics appeared in stunning new variations: intricate knits in mesmerizing horizontal jacquards, a shiny python trench trimmed in silver fox, confident pantsuits and more fur than in the rest of the couture combined, in gorgeous sweeping coats as well as an especially audacious and beautiful velvet hourglass gown encircled by a full fox.

It all looked the essence of elegance.

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