Jean Paul Gaultier, a designer who has turned sailor stripes into a signature of his brand, picked a nautical theme for his spring couture collection. But what could have been a recycling of old tropes turned into a delightful around-the-world journey, as he set sail for Japan with stopovers in various warm-weather destinations.
Gaultier signposted the show with iterations of the Breton top, such as an airy puff-sleeved blouse, or a striped tank top attached to a billowing white blouse. But he quickly steamed ahead, playing fast and loose with the theme, with variations ranging from classic suiting pinstripes to Mexican blanket stripes.
Dresses came in whorled shapes reminiscent of the inner structure of seashells, while jackets sprouted dramatic peaked shoulders that Gaultier humorously dubbed “shark fins.” Though there were visual puns aplenty, he managed not to get mired in his theme.
Rather, the designer merrily checked archetypes: a cancan dancer in a puff of chartreuse organza, looking straight out of a drawing by Toulouse-Lautrec; a quartet of punky geishas in metallic obi fabrics, and a sea goddess in a blue tulle cage dress covered in crystal drops.
Coco Rocha snagged one of the wackiest looks: a sheer hoop-skirted turquoise organza dress that undulated like a jellyfish. The show also featured a cameo by burlesque artist Dita Von Teese, who’s in the midst of a weeklong residency at Gaultier’s “Fashion Freak Show” musical revue at the Folies Bergère.
Anna Cleveland, now a full-time member of the designer’s cabaret troupe, closed the show in a wedding dress that appeared to be made from paper parasols. Gaultier has always been a master of fashion as entertainment. With his recent move into theater land, he’s truly hit cruise mode.