Remember when you could smoke in restaurants, airplanes, cinemas — even while driving your kids to school? What was once considered a harmless pastime is fast going the way of the dodo, but Jean Paul Gaultier has never been one for political correctness.
His fall couture show was an ode to Le Smoking, the tuxedo suit for women created by Yves Saint Laurent that has become a mainstay of Gaultier’s repertoire. In one of those semantic leaps he is fond of, it also doubled as a celebration of La Cigarette.
Dark silhouettes shrouded in curls of smoke lined the walls of the designer’s headquarters, while long plumes of smoke were projected onto the runway curtains. To cap off the cabaret ambience, Gaultier pumped actual smoke into the room, though it could have been steam rising from the audience in the saunalike venue.
The show was a coed affair, kicking off with a series of men’s looks worn by models, including five dancers from Gaultier’s upcoming “Fashion Freak Show” musical revue, and maybe a couple of the bouncers, too, judging from their tanklike builds.
A black tuxedo jacket came with nifty pockets for storing cigarettes, a lighter and even an umbrella that slid into a compartment in the back. Antismokers might opt for a gauze mask emblazoned with the words “No Smoking” in a glittery font.
Gimmicks aside, the theme provided an opportunity for Gaultier to riff on his forte: sharp tailoring with an androgynous bent. His-and-hers options included a white crepe dress and a matching tuxedo jacket embroidered with a dégradé of black ostrich feathers, like a slow exhalation.
White calligraphy letters curled like wreaths of smoke on a black jersey dress with an asymmetric cape sleeve, while a sooty chiffon gown came with its own clear plastic smoking partition that slipped on like a jacket.
By the time Soo Joo Park emerged in a bridal gown made of wafting ash-colored organza, the room had reached suffocation point. As soon as Gaultier took his bow, guests rushed outside for a cigarette.