Jean Paul Gaultier does great haute couture collections, but for many the ready-to-wear has been, by comparison, somewhat lacklustre. Gaultier's simple solution was to collide the two. He showed this haute couture collection the old-fashioned way, models posing around brittle gold salon chairs holding cards while an MC announced the details of each and every outfit. That's the oldest fashion trick in the book - get a bunch of journalists who love talking about clothes, show them some and talk them through it. It makes our jobs a whole lot easier.
The same is true when a designer shows a fantastic collection - it's that much easier to put pen to paper (or finger to key) and wax lyrical. This was vintage Gaultier. Indeed, the invite implied something of a reexamination of the Gaultier archive, a tattoo bearing the designer's name and the date '1992' and '2012'. 1992 was the year Gaultier first unveiled his tatouage bodysuits, and we had a few here, peeking out subtly on stockings or across sheer flesh-coloured sweaters. Combine that with Gaultier's matelot stripes and you have the lusty (male) sailor of Tom of Finland fantasy that has always populated Gaultier's work. Can that be twisted onto a woman? Well, this is Gaultier, so anything is possible, especially when it comes to gender-bending.
In reality, this was about Gaultier greatest hits - past, present and definitely future. He staged a retrospective exhibition in Montreal this summer that seemed to inform his haute couture collection back in July, and it was reflected here too, and not only in those tattoo prints. The reinterpreted trenches are another classic, as is sharp suiting, here with simple touches such as a white shirt twisted off-kilter and opening to bare an arm, or the whole thing made in flowing chiffon, to give a new slant to an old trick. Eveningwear was chopped-up to reveal lingerie inserts - that's actually been doing the rounds this season, but Gaultier did it thirty years ago and he still does it best. That was proved when every model took a round in their slip to prove that underwear really can do double-service as outerwear. That was something you'd never see in a fifties couture house - after all, those kind of anti-establishment shenanigans could bring couture down. Here, it just brought the house down.