Olivier Rousteing nailed his stint as a guest couturier at Jean Paul Gaultier, capturing the sense of fun and irreverence in the founder’s exuberant spectacles, extolling the capabilities of the atelier and ticking off all the reasons why the founder is a national treasure in France – and a guide for generations of designers.
Rousteing even started an hour late, piled his soundtrack with cheesy French pop music, and came pounce for his sailor stripe bow and kilt like you-know-who.
The audience swallowed it, cheering every conical bra, stripes and tattoo – including Monsieur Gaultier himself, beaming from the front row, cheering furiously whenever an outing particularly pleased him, which was often the case.
Rousteing, who has spent most of his young career spinning Balmain, hasn’t excluded himself from the equation, basing many looks with the Frankenstein boots he’s currently obsessed with; giving a nod to his burn accident in 2020 with a bandage-like grip on a sailorand showing off her social media savvy with her smart casting and viral outfits — like glass perfume bottle corsets — that had every phone in the room filming.
A vocal campaigner for more diversity and inclusivity in the industry – and like Gaultier, a champion of women’s empowerment – Rousteing also found a way to make sly political commentary, sending two models side-by-side in molded leather corsets with pregnancy bumps.
Backstage, the designer commented on how Madonna, a key inspiration for this unique collection, strolled the runway with her breasts on display in a racy Gaultier outfit during an AmfAR fashion show in 1992 – something impossible today. today. “He was ahead of his time in talking about free speech,” he marveled. Rousteing took those harness looks, but inserted flesh-colored beanies out of modesty.
Haute couture has long been considered an extravagant, loss-making exercise in selling perfume, and executives at the Spanish group Puig, owner of Gaultier, must have shuddered at the sight of all the brand codes of Le Male and Classique perfumes, the tin- cans worked into boots, skirts, belts and clutches.
But there were plenty of great clothes here for customers and collectors, plus a bonus ready-to-wear capsule that opened the show, a revival of Gaultier’s groundbreaking spring 1994 show featuring tattoos and the like. body art forms.
Rousteing’s stint as a guest designer – he followed Sacai’s Chitose Abe and Y/Project’s Glenn Martens – was a love letter to a fashion legend written with sincerity, humility and originality. The display culminated with Kristen McMenamy tottering in a white T-shirt turned into a strapless dress with a long train. She offered a long-stemmed red rose to Monsieur Gaultier and kissed him on both cheeks.