JPG is haunted by a compliment, sometimes backhanded, as France's enfant terrible of fashion. Today he is his countries’ most adored.
The atmosphere at a Gaultier Paris couture show is a fantastic hoo-ha – the kids, and those old enough to remember, fighting for pavement space outside – care. There was a swarm on rue Saint Martin an hour and a half before this show began, on both sides of the road, pilgrims eager to synergise with what might be going on indoors as well as who was arriving. The cheers and violence of flashbulbs when Amanda Lear and Catherine Deneuve arrived (separately, natch) pressed your head to the glass of a sense of occasion.
Once the champagne was quoffed – they say you should only indulge if you can see it being poured from glass to bottle, here there was nothing but that sense of manners – the show could begin.
The collection’s first exit was titled ‘Pussy Faster’, though it’s not clear if that’s how she was paying for her Swarovski-embellished panther perfecto. Gaultier’s protagonist for Autumn/Winter is on the surface more Bet Lynch than Belle du Jour. Not to say there weren’t facets of that film’s wardrobe provider, Yves Saint Laurent, in this show, woven through with a sense of Eastern exoticism. (One look was named after Bowie's China Girl).
It was through a cameo of a French reality TV phenomenon, Nabilla, where Gaultier’s terrible tendancies surfaced this season. If Dolly Parton once said ‘It costs a lot of money to look this cheap’, clad in her own couture look, Nabilla lived that adage out, likely without the irony. If only she was in look 35's organza and sable condom veil!
Of course there were stellar clothes amid the carnival of showmanship: Gaultier couture clients are amongst the best dressed, they throw on their beautifully embellished coats and are free to forget about how fabulous they are because they have an almost sportswear ease. Look 13’s fauve printed mousseline dress, 9’s leather and panther-printed mink cape and a wool coat, look 16 will likely go into those loyal wardrobes this season, alongside unique pieces at his clients' bequest.