Jean Paul Gaultier’s final Couture show was a wild, riotous party

Gaultier's SS20 extravaganza started with a model emerging from a coffin and only got more brilliant from there

Renowned for his provocative designs, extravagant shows, and general joie de vivre, the news that Jean Paul Gaultier’s SS20 Couture show would be his last sent shock waves throughout the fashion world. Known as the enfant-terrible of French fashion, the designer proclaimed his final show would be ‘a party’ – and a party it.

Taking place last night, the French creative took over the storied Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris to celebrate 50 years of Haute Couture. With an audience including the likes of Dries Van Noten, Christian Lacroix, Nicolas Ghesquière, Christian Louboutin (and did somebody spot the mysterious Martin Margiela front row cc: Vogue Runway?), the iconoclastic designer pulled out all the stops. 

In his typical tongue-in-cheek, kitschy style, the show opened up with a mock funeral. Pulled from a scene taken from the cult fashion film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, made by Willian Klein in 1966, a curtain opened to reveal a group of mourners serenaded by Boy George singing a rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”. 

A coffin was then carried on stage by a bevvy of male dancers. But this was, of course, no ordinary coffin: this was a Jean Paul Gaultier coffin, detailed with two cone-like impressions, to make it look like the corpse was wearing one of the designer’s famous cone bras.

The coffin was then opened by Karlie Kloss to reveal Issa Lish wearing the show’s first look, a white baby doll dress with puffed sleeves. 

The show that followed played out like a round-up of the designer’s greatest hits. Using mostly upcycled materials, the designer referenced his most famous collections. From coquettish sailor pieces modelled by the likes of Gigi Hadid and a Madonna-esque cone bra sported by Irina Shayk, to a succession of breastplates, and pieces made entirely from silk ties, the looks that made the designer famous were all there. 

With an inclusive cast of models, the evening also saw Bella Hadid take to the stage alongside Winnie Harlow, and Coco Rocha, who did a spot of Irish dancing. As well as Dita Von Teese and Paris Jackson, Gaultier brought out some of his old muses in the form of Rossy de Palma and Beatrice Dalle, who threw it back to the early days of the JPG label and smoked a cigarette down the runway

With an hour-long extravaganza of a show, which revealed around 200 looks, Gaultier ended exactly as he started: as one of the most exciting forces in fashion.