March 17, 2012

paris fashion week: jean paul gaultier

(images via ny mag)

not that i usually have much to complain about when it comes to a jean paul gaultier show (okay, maybe i have in the past, for the likes of f/w 2010 & s/s 2011, but resort 2011, as well as his more recent f/w 2011 & s/s 2012 collections have had me both singing and dancing), but for his f/w 2012 exhibition, the designer drew on the theme of the velvet underground.  and with that, i’d say things really couldn’t get much better.  i’d really be ready to just let things go and leave you the images with that (really, what else is there to say?), but this being opt’s farewell review to paris fashion week for the season, it seems appropriate to give you the same brand of commentary.  so we should really hear the critics before letting out of class. 

according to the washington post, “Jean Paul Gaultier fused 1980s graffiti prints with the style of cult rock band Velvet Underground in his slickly executed fall-winter offering…To music by Lou Reed…the designer sent down the catwalk revamped versions of the boxy bomber — once worn by the group — with bands, zippers and gothic hairstyling adding a punky vibe. Graffiti-printing provided the fun. The fabric’s richness in one flowing silk jumpsuit contrasted with the decimation of an all-over print depicting a gruesome car pile-up…Models slung brightly colored fur jackets over arms or let them fall coolly off one shoulder. Sleeves and cuffs seemed to crop up everywhere as ornamental features in skirts, furs and ruffles — or just hanging limp.”

and uk vogue wrote that “JPG played upon the punk and attitudinal look that he has so coined – the invite was a scrunched up piece of paper with graffiti details about where we should be and at what time (and of course the time didn’t really matter as this was Fashion Week and everything runs to time, but late). ‘There were great metallics and an urban layering feel. I loved the gold and bronzes,’ said Vogue’s Harriet Quick after the show – which commenced with a suitably dramatic curtain opening to reveal what seemed like a molten rock climbing wall. It wasn’t, but you get the gist and you knew that the rest to come was going to be suitably hard-edged and glamorous – essentially glam rock (get it?!).”

they continued on to say that “(w)e had lots of leather and lots of jackets – mostly of a circus ringmaster’s cropped proportion of the latter and gilets and tunic dresses of the former. This girl looked like she had got in late last night and probably hadn’t yet been to bed, but she still looked good for it – her jacket slung openly across a shoulder in a coy manner to let someone know she’s interested. There were blazers of oversizes and there were big blouson-sleeved numbers, huge fur hoods in bright shocking shades and, of course, corseted belts. Puffa jackets…came out with bright fur stoles, mimicking the undulating ‘puff’ shapes, and then came fur coats or gilets of the most rich magentas and reds which boasted shaggy hairy skirts to go with them.”

meanwhile, showstudio reflected that “(a)ll things New York and late seventies were the root of this show, biker jackets slung over everything from three-piece suits to draped evening dresses. Stephen Sprouse occasionally haunted this catwalk, in the snakeskin two-piece suit with jutting shoulders…But that was all window-dressing, and really that’s what this Gaultier collection was about. Like the graffiti that splashes New York carriages, you felt this the rebellious raiments of this collection, the Perfectos, shiny corsets and spraypaint prints, could be easily hosed away. What you’d be left with is a collection of sleek tailoring, slightly crumpled in that very New York fashion. The evening gowns, gothic slashes of billowing silk hung with crucifixes, could be taken or, indeed, left. But the suiting that ran through the heart was as perfect as anything on a French couture catwalk.”

of course and as ever, there had to be those to spoil some of our fun by complaining that they didn’t like it, or being characteristically vague on the subject, as cathy horyn was for her nyt review: “Leather and fur have been a big story of the Paris show. Jean Paul Gaultier poured it on in his collection vaguely inspired by the Velvet Underground. Although the show was a mishmash, with bronze jeans and graffiti prints, there were solid pieces.”  okay, maybe that wasn’t so bad, but as ever, she didn’t really articulate why she was thinking any of that. 

well, ditto for the daily beast's robin givhan, who wrote that “(w)ith his fall collection, the clothes felt as though they were constructed for a different era, when punk and graffiti were dangerous notions bubbling up from the street and the bourgeois woman who dabbled in them could consider herself hip. Now, to see his metallic orange-leather, cacophonous prints and brightly colored fur, is to think of an overly Botoxed woman trying too desperately hard to be young and cool.”  while i could probably critique her for harshin' on her gender, it hardly feels necessary in a half-strung together review, that trips merrily over insulting words without taking the time to ponder what they actually mean.

anyway, no matter, for others were far more open-minded.  said elle, the designer’s girl for fall “wears black leather - a lot of it - with button-backed pencil skirts and batwing dresses with elasticated edging, topped with voluminous bright orange blanket coats. Graffiti print is daubed on to tuxedo jackets and skirts, the paintwork dripping towards the waister belts and wedge heels. Blousons with drawstring hems come in metallic orange - no muted autumnal shades here, thank you very much - and parachute trains flow from velvet spray-on mini-dresses. With wet-look hair and roots pasted in contrasting colours of black, red and orange, the JPG rebel remains, her spirit undiluted and in a handy bottle size.”

a more skeptical style spoke of how “giant spray-paint bubble letters decorated many of the pieces. Other looks came in a multicolor surreal print that included vintage car grilles, license plates, and street signs that spelled out ‘Gaultier.’ It wasn’t his most subtle work ever, but it was only one of the directions he took. Gaultier reworked the trench one more time, coming up with twofer constructions that in one case turned a hem into a second set of sleeves and collar, and in another turned the coat itself simultaneously into a skirt. The furs—intarsias of different colors and dissimilar lengths—were the freshest things on the runway. Overall, though, this collection felt a little rootless.”

yet wwd was back—mostly—to sweet things: “Several dresses featured silver metallic graffiti patterns across the front, which looked cool even if they grew repetitive. Most effectively, he translated the spray-paint theme into terrific fur coats in a mélange of graffiti hues that were chic and provided a nice dose of whimsy. Some other pieces felt a little overworked, particularly when Gaultier deconstructed leather biker jackets and a metallic trenchcoat, remaking them into skirts that were just this side of awkward. Not so with his sartorial looks, including the impeccably tailored gray suits, which were among the show’s strongest. They are sure to make the transition from runway to street, be it mean or friendly.”

and us vogue described how “Gaultier also took street elements and gave them the tongue-in-chic Parisienne flourish of which he is such a master. So a camel Crombie coat would be shrugged over a sheath dress in a print that evoked the graffiti that once enveloped Manhattan’s subway cars (also used for an envelope clutch purse) or a red leather biker jacket would be deconstructed and turned into a chic evening stole lined in faux leopard (and worn over a classically cut, pale gray, pin-stripe pantsuit)…But the inventive furs—arctic fox worked like a duvet coat and crazy-colored patchworks of fronded and shorthaired pieces—brought the collection right up to the minute, and at its core there were plenty of the classic tailored elements that Gaultier conjures with such easy assurance.”

finally, the iht's suzy menkes reflected that “(a)lthough there were brilliantly cut, transformable clothes that turned a signature Gaultier trench into a hybrid of cape and coat, or even make a jumpsuit that unfurls over a garment underneath, these seemed mere flourishes of his innate talent. The rest of the show was dedicated to a downtown, urban culture that seems tired as an inspiration. The JPG graffiti prints were cleverly worked; so was a 'Factory' splash of silver on a plain dress, or blousons scrunched and compressed. Paradoxically, it was the upscale furs, marvels of texture and color (a ruffled rust top with feathery black, white and orange, for example) that eloquently mixed the street with high fashion feeling.”

(watch the full show video here)

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