Thursday 23rd January

| BY Claudia Croft

Jean Paul Gaultier: Couture SS20

How do you round off a 50-year, mould-breaking, taboo-busting career? How do you sum up a body of work rooted in haute couture and rebellion? One that put men in skirts, embraced up-cycling as well as body and age diversity, challenged gender stereotypes, championed queerness and secured a hallowed place in popular culture for the the conical bra. Jean Paul Gaultier has been doing all that since his first catwalk show in 1976 and always with a witty wink. If you are JPG, retiring from the catwalk after half a century of fashion high jinx, you put on a show. Not just any show, but a 200-look, theatrical spectacular in Théâtre du Châtelet, one of the biggest, grandest stages in Paris. It opened with the funeral scene from Who Are You Polly Magoo?, which segued into Boy George singing Church of the Poison Mind, and a tableau of chic mourners dressed in black Gaultier funeral weeds – all upcycled pieces from past couture collections.

A troupe of sexy pallbearers carried a coffin complete with conical boobs: Gaultier was laying to rest his catwalk career with his customary wit and energy. There followed a series of scenes dedicated to the Gaultier cannon, from Dita Von Teese and Irina Shyak in his signature satin corsets (inspired by his grandmother’s girdle), to Gigi Hadid in Breton stripes, Liu Wen in one half of an immaculately tailored white wedding suit and Erin O’Connor in a slinky black column dress as linear a pencil. Coco Rocha performed a high-kicking Irish dance, DJ Kiddy Smile treated us to an epic sashay, Amanda Leer was carried down the catwalk by two hunks. Paying tribute in the audience was Nicholas Ghesquière, who interned with Gaultier and credits him with starting his career as well as Martin Margiela, who was his first assistant. It was euphoric, wild, imaginative and full of joy. The audience cried happy tears, which is exactly how JPG designed it.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.