Gaultier's catwalk featured the trappings and acoutrements of a ballet school, including a corps de ballet completing their warm-up in sliced and diced Gaultier chiffon and Tatouages bodysuits
Jean Paul Gaultier, it seems, is in the mood for dancing - as if the dance-hall venue, ballet school decor and modern dance troupe limbering-up and then performing an interpretive dance to open his show wasn't enough of a clue, Gaultier also had his favourite all-rounder Coco Rocha perform a improvised bullerias as the first exit (remember he's made her dance a highland-fling before, this season she got off lightly). It was what she performed it in, though, that was most interesting: a draped , taped and wrapped raspberry chiffon dress that uncoiled at the waist to become a maillot swimsuit. The following exits also double-tasked, unfurling into flowing fabric and tight integrated bodies as Gaultier gave his cutting skills a work-out to equal that of his dancers. There were airs of the twenties and thirties in the relaxed tailoring, wide palazzo pants and later flapper dresses rendered in fruit sorbet shades of strawberry, lime and tangerine and dangling furs to match. Lest you fear that this dancehall extravaganza would only surrender sportif activewear and showgirl drama, with nothing of Gaultier's formidable tailoring, fret ye not. His suits had a run-through too, although again they were pulled and pushed, twisted by and around the body in motion. Nevertheless, shrewd as his is, Gaultier ensured they still came with the signature strongly tailored shoulderline and cinched waist that makes sense for his core clientele.
...well half of it at least! The perils of juggling two camera phones (and trying not to drop either off a balcony). Please note the dance troup in dashing Gaultier jerseys noirs emoting for all they're worth.
On the streets of the Marais, the lovely Morgane Dubled kindly let me snap her picture (despite the barrage of several thousand a few moments earlier on the catwalk), showing the rather chic chiffon-bound heads Gaultier gave to all his models.
An essential component of Paris Fashion Week is strong, strong coffee - especially when, like tonight, a show is running way, way late. Jeremy Scott has dragged us out to the Elysee Montmartre near Pigalle for the final show of the night - and that take-out check is the invite. But quite what 'LET THEM EAT GAS' implies is anyone's guess with Mr Scott. I only wonder how long we'll have to wait...
Esteban Cortezar is one of those young designers referencing Lagerfeld's eighties - in his mid-twenties, it is a decade he can only remember through the rose-tinted glasses of childhood nostalgia. Although perhaps that is appropriate, given that the house of Emanuel Ungaro has always been about rose-tinted hues, particularly the trademark startling fuschia that graced every seat. A powerhouse in said decade, Ungaro has recently struggled to find a contemporary identity, not to mention relevance to a modern woman's wardrobe outside of the ironic eighties rehash that even in itself is beginning to look old hat (and often, old tat). Ungaro's S/S 2009 collection, Cortezar's second outing under the label, had plenty of retro moments, swathing models tightly in taut, short taffeta cocktail dresses with fins of pleats and ruffles of the sort last seen gracing Tom Wolfe's 'social x-rays' in The Bonfire of the Vanities. I must confess to a guilty love of these somewhat questionable frocks, and surely there will be stylists who will want to shoot them, although whether any woman who can afford to would want to buy one is another story. Short and bright were definitely Cortezar's most confident statements - one model marched out with her ruffled jabot and primary cobalt taffeta jacket over nothing more than a matching pair of knickers. For the most part colour was brash and emphatic, with eye-popping turquoise, orange, magenta and tomato - sometimes all the above and more mixed together in a single print. Ungaro was always an accquired taste, even in his heyday: some saw irridscent multi-coloured contrast print overlayed with organza, others saw bodices like a cellophane-wrapped basket of fruit. The trouble with this collection was that although it referenced and revived much of Ungaro old, it didn't really provide anything for Ungaro new. That's the really interesting challenge Cortezar will have to face sooner rather than later.
This season Dries Van Noten handily pitches his tent - quite literally - bang in the middle of the Jardins du Palais Royal, fountains and all. Both scenic and terribly convenient, although the best bit is undoubtedly the Laduree macaroons.
I will admit outright to a frank, severe and unashamed bias when it comes to all matters of Lacroix. Short of going minimal (which luckily doesn't appear to be on the cards anytime soon) I find it difficult to criticise the outright optimism and exuberance with which this man meets the challenge of each new collection. This was, of course, a ready to wear show, but so often it felt like couture - Lacroix's self-declared 'Laboratory of Ideas' and his true love. Indeed, when his own programme notes describe an outfit as 'a nattier blue taffeta corset painted with gouache-style bouquets embroidered with bronze guipure over drawstring ruffled khaki doupion skirt with grey knit jacket and carnation', you know you're not in for a workaday simplicity. Indeed, it was a veritable dressmaking deluge. Lacroix packed the fabrics, layers and embellishments one on top of the other in a glorious mismatch of texture, textile and technique. It was dazzling - and I only wish the SHOWstudio cameraphone and my own lacklustre cinematography could amply reflect that. There were the vaguest hints of Lacroix's favourite 19th century references: short dresses, poufed at the hem with ruffles, were christened 'Degas', and flounces, gathers and bows created weightless bustle effects at the back of strict little skirts and jackets boned like corsets. There were also references to Spain - witness the Velasquez black bows in the hair, traje de luce 'paseo' Matador embroidery, or the short black bullfighters cape and and head-sized scarlet carnation gracing the second model. For all this, it didn't feel like a history lesson: Lacroix focussed around a tight, short silhouette, providing direction and boundaries for his flights of fancy. Complex as much of it was, it still looked light, carefree and coquettishly feminine - the very being and essence of Lacroix.
A Fuzzy Felt packet on every seat (and a huge backdrop of said stuff courtesy of Jake and Dinos Chapman) got us all thinking about childhood before Stella McCartney's latest show, and indeed Papa Paul slipped seruptitiously into his daughter's decidedly grown-up front row just before the lights went down. If we're harking back to our childhood memories of playground games, it seems Stella sells sea shells by the seashore - an ample tongue-twister to sum up Ms McCartney's latest collection, which with its fragile fabrics, pastel shades and short-short hemlines, was most definitely for spring-summer in a way some other designers seemed to have forgotton. The collection opened with saltwater-bleached shades of palest putty, ice blue and apricot in softly structured tailoring reminiscent of eighties Armani: perhaps the seashore Stella was thinking of was Miami, judging by the rolled-up sleeves and slouchy wide-shoulders. More eighties ideas came with the oversized seashell earrings, bold black palm-leaf prints on white silk and short black banded Alaia-alike dresses. The wide-shouldered, slouchy tailoring was interesting, particularly as a way of softening the continuing emphatic shoulder for a summer season an (hopefully) hotter climes. Fairly straightforward at first, it also looked new when Stella began to toy with tailoring tricks, dropping the notch in the lapels to the lower torso, for example, and thus distorting and slightly elongating the proportions and a trench cropped into a bathing suit, while perhaps not the most practical of retail proposals, looked dynamite. The jumpsuits too looked good, although again it was hard to imagine them off the runway. The problem was that many of the ideas have been seen before - and not just back in the eighties. The tight body-con dresses and swimsuits are not only now common fashion currency, they have even begun to drop of the radar of the hipper fashion crowd. Elsewhere, although the flounced, short evening dress and macrame knits with oversized sequins looked fun for a jokey fancy dress moment, they do not a collection make.