Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2012 Couture

To a sound track of Pete Doherty declaiming words after Alfred de Musset, the Romantic early-nineteenth-century French writer, Jean Paul Gaultier sent out a playful couture collection—for men and women—that toyed with the notion of dandyism, from de Musset’s age to the Weimar Republic, and named some of the models for characters out of Proust, Colette, and Oscar Wilde.

There was Gaultier’s take on the round-hipped New Look jacket silhouette of Christian Dior; a tailcoat cinched with a corset; a late-nineteenth-century jet-trimmed velvet cape with a collar of goat fronds resembling monkey fur; and a dramatic floor-length black opera coat spliced with panels from a precious kimono—and that was just the menswear.

Meanwhile, in Gaultier’s signature gender-provocative way, the women got to borrow from classic menswear, à la George Sand, from top hats to sleek tuxedo pants. Gaultier turned his impeccable tailoring skills to a biker jacket that morphed into a tailcoat, luxuriously executed in matte-black crocodile, and a trench coat in black taffeta with flying panels in back transforming it into a glamorous mid-century cocktail frock.

Under those top hats, some of them skeletally formed from a corset’s whalebones, the hair was veiled in this couture season’s ubiquitous decorative net mesh, this time styled in a manner that unsettlingly suggested the hairnets worn by L.A. gang members.

For grand evening Gaultier looked to the Deco heroines of 1920s German artist Otto Dix—himself no stranger to the cross-dressing madness of Berlin nightlife in that era—with flapper dresses fringed with beads or crafted from chiffon velvet burnt out to create Odeonesque panels and even Gaultier’s signature, in a Constructivist typeface, with a provocatively positioned G.

Unusually for the Paris couture, Gaultier has his own in-house embroidery workrooms and once again they produced a series of extraordinarily inventive pieces, including a sheath dress covered in dense Art Deco beadwork, with a whalebone neckline and pocket, and fishnet composed of a trellis of tiny jet beads.

Gaultier’s bride romped back to the swaggering dandy theme, in her back-to-front ivory tailcoat worn over crinolined organdy skirts.

by Hamish Bowles via: vogue
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