As Jean Paul Gaultier put it in his show notes, “This is an homage to all the pop stars of the Eighties who have influenced fashion and my fashion with their look. Any similarity with real events or characters is purely noncoincidental.”
Tongue-in-cheek as the disclaimer was, it actually provided the main snag in this collection. Gaultier’s riff on pop music, featuring groupings dedicated to the Eighties’ biggest names and a terrific soundtrack to match, made for an entertaining musical revue. But the take on the decade was too campy and ultimately turned exhausting, added to by the overpowering styling gimmicks.
Gaultier started with Grace Jones. The models, with hairdos shaped into the singer’s signature square flattop, wore strong-shouldered smokings reworked into chic jumpsuits and jackets. Next was Annie Lennox — mannish pinstripes, i.e., a vest snipped at the midriff with languid pants — and then Madonna, which featured Gaultier’s famous cagelike corsets and cone bras reinterpreted with a softer touch.
The list went on, often painstakingly so. That’s not to say that there weren’t some strong clothes. A kimono over a floral-print jumpsuit was fitting on Karlie Kloss as Boy George, followed by a pretty dress in a Japanese pattern. For the Jane Birkin looks (Eighties schmeighties), Gaultier worked hippie denim into cool sequined dresses and pants.
The theatrics often treaded a fine line between homage, parody and kitsch. With Puig behind Gaultier, it’s time for the wildly talented designer to work on regaining some of his fashion relevance. The finale’s Vogue-ing men in heels and Amanda Lear in pink sequins were fun to watch, but are unlikely to hasten that process.