The runway, elevated; the backdrop, crinkled metallic. Jean Paul Gaultier eschewed his typical runway gimmicks (i.e., spring’s models dressed in full view of the audience), and instead delivered a more direct, take-no-prisoners production, which went straight to the mean, mean streets of Paris (yes, they do exist).


Inspired by graffiti, still so common in this city, as well as César’s neorealist compression sculptures (think cars smushed into square blocks), Gaultier’s fall was dark and with a hard edge, more so than in recent collections. These clothes were clearly intended for the kind of girls you don’t want to mess with. He made that point with the first few exits, including a leather biker jacket with one red and one black sleeve teamed with a linear black skirt, and a leather dress with a hem resembling a sweater elastic.


Several dresses featured silver metallic graffiti patterns across the front, which looked cool even if they grew repetitive. Most effectively, he translated the spray-paint theme into terrific fur coats in a mélange of graffiti hues that were chic and provided a nice dose of whimsy.


Some other pieces felt a little overworked, particularly when Gaultier deconstructed leather biker jackets and a metallic trenchcoat, remaking them into skirts that were just this side of awkward.


Not so with his sartorial looks, including the impeccably tailored gray suits, which were among the show’s strongest. They are sure to make the transition from runway to street, be it mean or friendly.

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