Has Jean Paul Gaultier been hanging out at Wimbledon? That was the obvious question to be asked at his S/S Hermes show, an unexpected ode (and then some) to Roger Federer, the Williams sisters, and incidentally to spring's sportswear undercurrents. Whether under his own name or at this house, Gaultier is never a man to do anything by halves - turf clambered across every surface, healthily marked by white striation and accompanied with a soundtrack of grunts, groans and ricocheting balls. The first outfit on Eva Herzegova set the sartorial mood: a pleated mini in purest Persil white, breaking into transparent chiffon between. Was this Jean Paul's own interpretation of that infamous seventies Athena poster, perhaps? The first dozen or so outfits continued to riff on tennis whites - models sporting headbands swung leather-bound raquets or oversized sportif versions of the house's classic Birkin like ultra-exclusive ball caddies. In a classic piece of Gaultier thematic understatement, two models uneasily pitched themselves at the head of the catwalk to play an inept (but nonetheless highly entertaining) game of ladies' singles. After that jokey opening, it was pretty much a straight serve of Hermes house classics, with neat buttery calf blazers in oxblood or navy, sensible pleated or jersey skirts and fluid palazzo trousers. The sports theme threw up some unexpected surprises: a take on the 20s ease of Chanel and Jean Patou in long, slouchy leather-front cardigans and strategic contrast banding, for example. A bit of a sportswear cliché (ask Ralph Lauren) but great-looking nevertheless. The finale of maxi-dresses in silk jersey and billowing chiffon could really have come from many a collection - the pieces, in fact, many forget in a Gaultier show but that he has been churning out to commercial acclaim at Hermes since he began. Chic but undeniably basic, the only hint at the theme were the towelling work-out headbands (and even they slipped off a few looks) - indeed, that was pretty much the story of this collection where the sportswear vibe was conjured in accessories, staging and styling rather than design. But this time, the jolliness of a typical Gaultier romp made it worth the trip nonetheless.
The first outfit on Eva Herzegova set the sartorial mood: a pleated mini in purest Persil white, breaking into transparent chiffon between.