Jean Paul Gaultier was never the kind of man to leave with a whimper. Hence, rather than skulk out of the stable door with a quiet farewell collection for the house of Hermes, he decided to ride hell-for-leather and thrash out a final whip-crack of a show-stopper.
If you wondered what the whinnying was backstage, it would be the half-dozen dressage ponies that cantered around a ring as backdrop to Gaultier's equestrian inspired swan song. There was a vaguely Spanish feel to proceedings: each model wore a sombrero cordobés, the traditional stiff-brimmed Spanish riding hat, a few boleros popped up, and there was fringe a-plenty in full-on señorita-style shawls, albeit in fine skin rather than lace. If that sounds a bit whiplash, that is of course Gaultier's much-favoured stomping ground - those Helmut Newton pictures of Hermes-harnessed models inspired a romp in the hay with the S&M accoutrements of the tack-box. Chiffon frocks were harnessed with thick calfskin bridles or hefty leather corsets, models carried riding crops, and the super-snug fit of jodhpurs tucked into high leather riding boots could have come straight out of a Jilly Cooper novel.
Nevertheless, there was nothing tacky or heavy-handed about this show. Instead it fairly heaved luxury, with butter-soft leather and velvety suede cut into simple, single-breasted blazers, long-line cardigans or neat skirts in a restrained palette of natural - dare we say horsey - neutrals, brown, cream, black and shots of chestnut. Will women really want to wrap themselves up in that much leather come summer? When it looks this good, of course they will. Each and every piece looked like an investment that would last a lifetime, a reminder of the slick chic Gaultier has consistently delivered for this collection. The backdrop may have provided the fireworks, but the clothes were the real dynamite in this show, and Gaultier rode out in a blaze of glory.