To call a couture show annoying sounds disrespectful of couturier, atelier and even genre. Yet annoyance was the overarching takeaway from Jean Paul Gaultier’s show on Wednesday. The 80-minute wait in the designer’s too-crowded, too-hot (despite newly installed air conditioning, for which all were grateful) venue may or may not have been exacerbated by a movie shoot going on at the site since 8:00 in the morning. Either way, a great show always induces irritation amnesia.
Unfortunately, Gaultier didn’t deliver. He opened with Pete Doherty’s mournful declaration on the soundtrack that he has the disease of the century (debauched disillusionment), the snippet from the film “Confession of a Child of the Century,” in which Doherty plays a 19th century aesthete. That, in combination with Gaultier’s primary point of reference, Metropolis, made for a futurist-by-way-of-Jazz-Age-dandy motif. This allowed the designer to flaunt his tailoring brilliance under the flourish of top hats, metal headbands and highly decorated wraps. While the perfection of the cuts impressed as always, Gaultier displayed not a trace of restraint, with the result too tricked-out and tiresome. Speaking of which — the endless parade of dandified mannish looks worn by men? If the point was androgyny, it should have been made more succinctly. If it was haute homme, the men’s shows ended on Sunday. Similarly, his futuristic flappers had way too much going on, though one could certainly extract some stunning eveningwear from the frenzy.
With Puig now holding a majority stake, Gaultier is a house in transition. Perhaps now is the moment for a little introspection. One of fashion’s greats, he is too talented and too important to send his audience home annoyed.