There could be nothing more incendiary for the French fashion establishment than a designer championing New York over the capital of world style.
A slice of New York in Paris - that's what Jean Paul Gaultier's latest show was all about. He's still a provocateur on the Paris fashion scene, and there could be nothing more incendiary for the French fashion establishment than a designer championing New York over the capital of world style. Gaultier's invitation, a taxi-yello palimpsest scrawled with subway graffiti spelling out his name, indicated the rebellious direction this show would take.
That invite also indicated some of the flaws - it was scrawled in French and this was resolutely a removed, outsider's take on New York style. Gaultier plastered his backdrop with crumpled tin-foil like Warhol's factory, pumped out The Velvet Underground and ironed his models' hair to Iggy Pop straightness, with a slash of sprayed colour down the roots. All things New York and late seventies were the root of this show, biker jackets slung over everything from three-piece suits to draped evening dresses. Stephen Sprouse occasionally haunted this catwalk, in the snakeskin two-piece suit with jutting shoulders or Andrej Pejic's gold-splattered trouser-suit with auburn fox stole, worn Candy Darling style with towering platform wedges.
But that was all window-dressing, and really that's what this Gaultier collection was about. Like the graffiti that splashes New York carriages, you felt this the rebellious raiments of this collection, the Perfectos, shiny corsets and spraypaint prints, could be easily hosed away. What you'd be left with is a collection of sleek tailoring, slightly crumpled in that very New York fashion. The evening gowns, gothic slashes of billowing silk hung with crucifixes, could be taken or, indeed, left. But the suiting that ran through the heart was as perfect as anything on a French couture catwalk. Not quite so Americana after all.