In a classic couture show the final look is typically a wedding dress, but Jean Paul Gaultier flipped the script at his spring presentation by sending a bride out first—as a stripped-down version of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” blasted from the sound system. But because this was the enfant terrible of French fashion, the bride was Anna Cleveland, daughter of trailblazing black supermodel Pat Cleveland, rocking a white dress opened at the front to reveal high-waisted granny panties, her veil lodged under a headpiece of curlers topped off with a wedding cake ornament.
Following Cleveland’s over-the-top ensemble was a procession of matrimonial looks, which Gaultier cheekily called 61 Façons de Se Dire Oui (61 Ways to Say Yes). Some were downright ludicrous, like the dusty-blue overall dress and beekeeper’s hat worn by Lindsey Wixson (above)… while others, like the half-wedding/half-cocktail dress hybrids (below), were downright masterful.
Though many designers used blooms to decorate gowns—Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Raf Simons at Dior—Viktor & Rolf took things to the extreme, as they so often do with their couture creations. Though the block-printed floral baby-dolls that opened the show were plenty eye-catching, things got even wilder as things progressed, with prints morphing into piled-on three-dimensional flower appliqués, which made some dresses so wide that models had to turn sideways to pass each other on the runway.
Most Star-Studded Front Row
Jean Paul Gaultier had famous friends Carla Bruni, Dita Von Teese and Catherine Deneuve in attendance, but other than Chanel, Donatella Versace scored some of the week’s biggest A-listers. At her Sunday night show, the paparazzi were so enamoured by mother-daughter duo Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn that it took them awhile to notice songstress Ellie Goulding sitting nearby.
At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld’s supporters included Kirsten Stewart, Vanessa Paradis and Kris Jenner, who beamed when daughter Kendall took to the circular runway in a sheer black cropped blouse and low-waisted skirt trimmed in silk flowers. But IMO, the celeb commanding the most attention was Gaspard Ulliel, the face of the men’s fragrance Bleu de Chanel. From his front row seat, the ridiculously handsome actor smouldered in his navy jacket, which he’d paired with a black vest, black pants, slicked hair and metallic aviators.
Though pants don’t typically come to mind when one thinks of couture, today’s modern couturiers have no qualms about showing expertly cut trousers alongside elaborate dresses—sometimes even together in the same outfit.
The best looks at Giambattista Valli were the tulle gown and trouser combos inspired by Janis Joplin’s penchant for wearing dresses over pants. At Bouchra Jarrar, the sole female designer to be given the official haute couture appellation, there were actually fewer pants than usual (the designer is known to cut a lean and mean pair of trousers), but the minimalist ivory pair shown with a matching tuxedo jacket—her contemporary take on le smoking—were absolute perfection.
There aren’t many models better at working a catwalk than Naomi Campbell, and the runway queen did just that at Jean Paul Gaultier wearing little more than a cascade of orchids and some foliage (her look was aptly titled “C’est le bouquet” in the show notes). But Campbell better watch her back, because Karlie Kloss is looking to take the crown.
At the Atelier Versace show, the 22-year-old, six-foot-one model, resplendent in a white second-skin flared jumpsuit, seemed to shed her goodie-two-shoes image with every confident stride. Compared to a lot of the models in the show, she actually pulled off her ultra-sexy getup.
There’s a reason Carine Rotfield, who was my seatmate at the show (she’s lovely, btw), is a big fan of Alexandre Vauthier: his dresses make women look amazing, particularly RiRi and Beyonce, who are also admirers. Compared to a lot of couture, you could actually imagine these pieces making an appearance on a recent red carpet. As each look hit the runway, each racier than the one proceeding it, I kept wondering why Gucci didn’t hire Vauthier to take over as creative director. Doesn’t sex always sell?