Jean Paul Gaultier, the so-called “enfant terrible” couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to his Paris Fashion Week career, after bidding farewell to ready-to-wear.
The designer, who will now focus on the house’s haute couture and fragrance lines, decided to close the curtain on Saturday night amidst the decadence of the Le Grand Rex cinema, in the heart of Paris’ theater district. A wise choice for a showman whose final act was more akin to a Broadway production-meets-Miss Gaultier 2015 beauty pageant than a traditional runway show.
Rossy de Palma, a close friend of Jean Paul Gaultier presented the categories of the contest, which ranged from Miss Vintage, Miss Lucha Libre and Miss Footballer’s Wife to Miss Fashion Editor, while the British-born journalist Alex Taylor played master of ceremonies. The bonanza-like tribute to JPG’s greatest sartorial hits, included cone-bra corset dresses, infamously worn by Madonna in 1989 to the sailor-inspired marinière top, a staple of every woman’s wardrobe. The nostalgic salutes didn’t end with the clothes: there were model lookalikes of the industry’s most acclaimed editors, such as Suzy Menkes, Carine Roitfeld and Grace Coddington.
The japester vote of thanks aside, it was of course Jean Paul Gaultier’s day. A designer who will long be remembered for his subversive and prescient collections that made him ‘the’ name to drop in the late eighties and early Nineties. The people who supported him back then remained loyal as ever, with names from the entertainment and fashion worlds like legendary actress Catherine Deneuve and Boy George to designers Alber Elbaz, Rick Owens and Alexander Wang. One notable absence was Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour who was in Venice, Italy for George Clooney’s wedding to Amal Alamuddin.
But with all celebrations, there is a modicum of seriousness and for Gaultier this came in his explanation for leaving the house, stating that is was difficult for him to continue to innovate due to “commercial constraints” and the “frenetic pace of collections.” That said, there was no sign of boardroom politics making its way onto the catwalk with models like Joan Smalls, Karlie Kloss and Coco Rocha (crowned Miss Gaultier 2015), walking out to a flourish of confetti. A bittersweet finale perhaps but fans of the house will see it as more of an au revoir than a goodbye.