“It feels like a new beginning,” John Paul Gaultier told WWD recently while showing his pre-fall collection.

He has many reasons to feel that way, including his recently signed deal with Gibò Co. SpA to again produce his women’s ready-to-wear. (The designer launched with Gibò 32 years ago.) The couture collection he showed suggested an impressive creative refresh as well.

After allowing his brilliant wit and irreverence to descend into expressions of kitsch for too long, Gaultier here made an important statement about his will to be taken seriously while showcasing the talent that made him a star in the first place.

 

Gaultier’s theme — Indian Gypsies — offered plenty of room to roam. Yet this time he refused to let cartoonish instincts infringe on his message of pure haute, one signaled with the first look out, an amethyst and brown plissé jersey gown with a long braid in the back. It was a study in elegance. Gaultier played other such moments calm — voluminous white tunic and pants, a khaki shantung trench over a saffron gown — against more ebullient fare, the lavish embroideries, patchworks and pilings that at his best have the power to awe. Among his stunners: a glamazon mermaid in silver lamé and a crystal-embroidered skirt that put an Indian spin on Mondrian.

 

Throughout, Gaultier alluded gamely to his greatest hits — trench, smoking, corsetry, cone bra included. And if he didn’t break new ground, who cares? Couture is about beauty and craft, of which this collection had plenty.

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