#SuzyCouture: Pierre Cardin as Living Legend
It could have been Bridget Riley, the foremost creator of eye-popping Op Art, whose work had inspired black and white swirls as the backdrop to the runway.
But by the time Pierre Cardin, attended by a phalanx of photographers, had been brought inside the Jean Paul Gaultier show, the message was clear: Don’t forget the Sixties.
As if everything in that era had been painted in black and white on geometric lines, the Gaultier show seemed like a homage to a decade when he entered the fashion boxing ring – as much as the “Homage to Pierre Cardin” promised in the show notes. Although the legendary designer, now 96, was quick to announce after the show that no one today was as inventive as himself in his early career.
What did Pierre think of Jean-Paul? “It was very creative – a bit theatrical, but also with a strong will, a personality and interesting materials,” the master said.
Truth to tell, Gaultier was channelling mostly himself, although the graphic black-and-white outfits that opened the show were a smart new version of optical illusions, mixed with repeated cuts of white fringe. And, as ever, the designer can conjure a piece of tailoring that wraps a jacket at one angle around the body to re-set at a different geometric angle again on the other side.
Heads were shown with a spiral of hair from the crown – a charming effect for the three-year-old “model” walking the runway, but perhaps not meant to continue into adulthood.
Everything from Gaultier was beautifully cut: a suit with a dip-and-dive headline; a bias-cut drape falling down the body; and a mix of black and white pinstripes to create the crisp elements of a tailored trouser suit.
What was the designer trying to say about his fashion predecessor? The witty, complex and oh-so-French programme list focused on “May ‘68” (the period of student riots in France), followed by “excuse my trench” – a pun on the original line, “Excuse my French”. The 51-piece programme ended with “Twisted Sisters” dresses with dizzying black and white lines.
It was all quintessentially Gaultier, with a surprising number of original and wearable outfits along the way. Just like his mentor Pierre Cardin, in his day and his way.
Viktor & Rolf
With a retrospective exhibition at the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam later this year, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren might have decided to look back for their summer couture collection.
The design duo took their usual route of just a single concept. But this time it was not the strange doll figure of last season. Instead they found another source: everything was made out of Duchesse satin, which they called “an icon of couture”.
The result was pretty, even charming, with clothes absolutely wearable – except perhaps for high sections of flowers in the hair. But the fun, and the joy, of this utterly original couple is what might pop up next time.