Jean Paul Gaultier on the catwalk

PARIS — Prized for the jubilant atmosphere at its runway shows, the Jean Paul Gaultier maison has opted to sit out this month’s couture week and “celebrate this event during safer and happier times.”

The house was one of several brands that have decided to postpone their presentations this season due to the ongoing restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to the final schedules for the upcoming men’s and couture weeks published by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode on Tuesday.

Acne Studios and Celine, which were originally scheduled for Jan. 20 and Jan. 24, respectively, will now unveil their collections at a later date, spokespeople for the houses confirmed.

The Gaultier show was originally penciled in for Jan. 27 and was to feature a one-off couture collection created by Sacai’s Chitose Abe — the first of a series of guest creatives following the founder’s retirement from the runway in January 2020.

This marks the second postponement for the Jean Paul Gaultier x Sacai collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has scuttled most physical fashion shows over the past nine months. Paris police mandated that the men’s and couture displays in the French capital — taking place from Jan. 19 to 28 — must be audience-free to curb the spread of infections.

Chitose Abe and Jean Paul Gaultier

Chitose Abe and Jean Paul Gaultier  Gio Staiano/Courtesy Photo

The postponement sets the stage for an exceptionally buzzy couture week this summer — health conditions allowing. The July schedule includes the return of couture from Balenciaga, 53 years after Spanish master Cristóbal Balenciaga shuttered his house. (That debut has also been postponed twice.)

Equally exciting is the prospect of an edgy young talent like Abe interpreting Gaultier’s vast and eclectic oeuvre, and taking advantage of his atelier’s formidable know-how.

Irina Shayk on the catwalk

Irina Shayk on the catwalk at Jean Paul Gaultier’s last show in January 2020.  Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Gaultier confirmed the new guest-creative strategy exclusively to WWD last March, explaining that he would invite a designer each season to “interpret the codes of the house and give the vision of the haute couture.”

With a career spanning 50 years, Gaultier is one of French fashion’s greatest showmen and innovators, breaking down gender barriers — and fashion ones, too — designing everything from jeans and cone bras to tailored ensembles and fantastical eveningwear. He first joined the couture calendar in 1997.

Inviting serial collaborators instead of a permanent creative director is becoming an increasingly popular model, embraced by Moncler in recent years and more recently adopted by the likes of Emilio Pucci.

Illustrating the continued appeal of haute couture, New York-based label Area said it would present its first couture collection on Jan. 28 after the close of the official Paris calendar, as part of a restructuring of its collections schedule designed to unveil the clothes shortly before they arrive in stores.

“The pandemic gave us a moment to evaluate our industry, and how we have been working within it,” design duo Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk said in a statement.

“Our goal is to create pieces that are treasured — that fill an emotional need and elicit confidence, whether it’s an earring or a couture gown. We can no longer box ourselves into an unrealistic and outdated schedule dictated by break dates,” they added. 

Area’s designs have been worn by celebrities including Zendaya, Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande and Rosé from girl group Blackpink, and the brand has a history of creating custom pieces, such as the crystal cupchain bustier dress from their fall 2020 collection, which required 86,400 crystals and 579 yards of chain.

Its couture launch will feature a partnership with Swarovski.

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