Jean-Paul Gaultier Womenswear A/W11

A va-va-voom strip tease sends up the chic camp factor at Gaultier

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In Paris, we’ve been dealing with onslaughts of chic coming from many designers who all seem to want to own that word in their unique way. Except the references are drawn from vaguely the same place – a late 50s to 70s film set where the female lead is always elegant, French and immaculately dressed. This mood didn’t escape Jean Paul Gaultier who turned back time from last season’s Kiss-rock antics and delighted the French crowd by opening with comedienne and actress Valerie Lemercier who quite possibly had the biggest bouffant one had ever seen on the catwalk.

All the better to slink around the catwalk with as she performed a semi-strip tease opening and closing the show. In between we got a great deal of riffing off that bourgeois conservatism that saw a supreme range of outerwear, mainly two-part knee length coats that would start with wool and end in a band of leather. Pussy bow blouses, trenches both long and short and charcoal grey suiting were also mainstays of these ladies-who-lunch look. You could never say these are conservative looks though as Gaultier pushes each ensemble to the outer regions of chic by glamping it all up with brocade, fur, leather and the greying beehive hair that made some of the models look like surreal entities.

Nods to glamourous après-ski attire were made in the fur-trimmed ski jackets worn over trousers with stirrup. It probably wasn’t Gaultier’s reference but it felt a little Carry On-esque as each model threw their coats and jackets off onto the floor and had scarves trailing them. It was a demure chuckle from France’s enfant terrible rather than a collection that tried to go for maximum subversion and that resulted in some cheeky chic that will be pleasing to many.

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