Dispatches from Paris: Jean Paul Gaultier

Rebecca Lowthorpe reports on the end of an era

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GIF: Jean Paul Gautier, s/s 2015 - IMAXTREE

Jean Paul Gaultier was never going to bow out politely. Mais non. For this, his last ever ready to wear show, fashion’s enfant terrible staged an extravaganza that nobody who witnessed it could ever forget.
 
In Paris’ Grand Rex theatre, guests were treated to the Election of Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015, a beauty pageant with all the high camp theatrics you might expect from one of fashion’s best-loved designers.
 
Miss Mariniere stepped out first – the actress Rosie de Palma, who soon stripped down to corset and fishnets, wiggling up and down the catwalk. Miss Tour de France signalled a parade of sexy cycling kits, followed by Miss Meteo - all sporty Grand Prix silks. Then Miss Redactrice de Mode, a section featuring model lookalikes of Grace Coddington, Emanuelle Alt, Franca Sozzani, Carine Roitfeld and Suzy Menkes – the latter, complete with requisite hair quiff, drew the most applause as she vogued to Madonna.

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IMAGE: Jean Paul Gautier, s/s 2015 - IMAXTREE

Miss Femme de Footballeur – WAGS, basically, dolled up to the nines in crystal and rhinestones. Miss Vintage featured a clutch of septagenarians, all voluminous grey hair, clad in biker jackets and little else on the arms of male Adonises. Miss Smoking was – what else? – a series of impeccable tuxedos. And Miss Lucha Libre involved 30 or so masked fighters who pretended to punch each other out in synch to Prince’s Purple Rain. At the end, the model Coco Rocha was crowned for her sphinx-like sashaying in a pale pink corset.
 
It was all fabulous and fun. And a reminder that it was Gaultier in the first place who made pinstripes, corsets (via Madonna), tuxedos and sportswear all relevant fashion staples in the first place. Just as this year’s Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective at the Barbican reminded you of his huge influence over the past 40 years, the 62-year-old designer rammed it all home here in his own inimitable, loveable way.

Thankfully, the designer will continue to show his twice yearly couture collections, so we have by no means seen the last of him.
 
But for now, at least, thanks for the memories, Monsieur Gaultier.

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