Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Fall Winter 2014 Paris
It was a sure bet, considering Jean Paul Gaultier's pop culture radar, that he would include Conchita Wurst, this year's proud Eurovision winner, as the penultimate exit of his show under Zizi Impératrice; Francophones will have spotted that as a slightly heavy-handed wordplay on sausage-like items. With Bjork, Dita Von Teese, Beth Ditto or reality TV's Nabilla preceding Wurst, Gaultier's penchant for non-traditional models is well-documented.
That being said, the thrill of emotion that it caused was perhaps a Pavlovian reaction to the dearth of shows that rouse anything more than a passing spark. And as one of the last Mohicans of that era, Gaultier is particularly cosseted by those who miss it.
Night, blood and fool's gold shimmer were the defining colors of this collection that brought nighttime man traps to light. Opening with Dahlia Noir (for one blink that model had something of Carmen Dell'Orefice, but wasn't) and continuing with Doriane Grey, Blair Witch or Black Sabbath, his women were preternatural man-eaters in the manner of Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger, be they in grey flannel sweatpants, a black ombré gradient jacquard suit, or the intricate delicacy of gowns in pleated organza drapes. Sensuality tinged with damnation was the lead-in to emphasized silhouettes where Gaultier's way with a woman's body was clear. Shapely blousons and tailored jackets gave structure and defined a dramatic silhouette. With him, triumphant, all-powerful femininity is reveled in.
On the whole, he still lives to shock and challenge, but that is one trope that he has (too) often used. At a time where couture seems to be clamoring once more for daywear, it was less the flamboyant Phoenix than the sophisticated night owls that reminded us of why Gaultier is still one of the greats.