#SuzyCouture: Jean Paul Gaultier: A Chinoiserie Take On French Couture

They say that it takes three designers coming up simultaneously with the same idea to create a trend. In that case, the cap-berets, so much in evidence for the summer 2019 season, are the most obvious contenders.

Jean Paul Gaultier, so well known for his interpretation of the French sailor look, naturally opened with marine stripes for a top and – why not? – the socks. Meanwhile, from the crow’s nest, you could see all manner of headgear except sailor caps. Sculpted hair, a feature of many of this season’s shows, sat upon Gaultier’s models’ heads, topping each look with a splurge of colour.

But there was something different: a dramatic uplift of the shoulder line that made me think instantly of ‘Chinoiserie on Sea’. That is the name of a millinery collection by Stephen Jones, which will be shown in Brighton in the UK, next month.

How brilliant of Jean Paul to take something of his own heritage and make it fresh with Chinese and Japanese elements. Although the show rushed off in various directions (think Dita Von Teese in busty top and sheer dress) before the designer did his iconic run down the catwalk.

The collection was built on pleats, stripes and shoulders that swoosh upwards. But the show also neatly contained all sorts of outfits that the designer presented with careless ease. A black-and-white dress, whose stripes ran straight up from the ankle to turn a curve at one shoulder, was a marvel of high-fashion skills.

Relatively speaking, this was a calm Gaultier couture show with Chinese and Japanese elements created for bravado rather than kitsch.

Maybe the success of the designer’s ‘Fashion Freak Show’, extended in Paris until 21 April, has drawn the burlesque tendencies away from his fashion events.

But watch this new look that embraces the Far East. The shark-shaped shoulders and fan-pleated boots will surely swim a long way.