Guest-designing a Jean Paul Gaultier couture collection is a massive, daunting task. Do anything to mar the storied designer’s legacy, and fashion will have your head! But Olivier Rousteing, the house’s latest visitor, took the challenge and ran with it.
The Balmain creative director put his own spin on each and every Gaultier code and signature, resulting in a runway show that read as Jean Paul Gaultier: The Hits.
There was a sculptural ensemble made to resemble Gaultier’s torso-shaped Le Male perfume bottle, a design that will go down in fragrance history. The heels of staggeringly high platform boots also took shape as the iconic glass torso.
Experimentations with trompe l’oeil, another JPG speciality, manifested as tricky separates appliquéd with scraps of denim. As for Gaultier’s famous mesh tops, a favorite among Gen Z’ers discovering the designer’s work for the first time? Rousteing interpreted those with a nautical twist, merging two JPG hallmarks into one.
Rousteing also tackled corsetry via ornately woven bustiers, molded breastplates, and lots of cone bras, applied to suiting and gowns alike.
While the collection was unmistakably Gaulter-ian, Rousteing’s influence was apparent. A pantsuit made of what appeared to be brown rubber recalled a latex ensemble from Balmain’s Fall 2020 collection, famously worn by Kim Kardashian. Suiting and dresses were built with exaggerated shoulders, a silhouette Rousteing often works with at his home base.
No one does Gaultier quite like Gaultier himself, but Rousteing swung for the fences — and the risk paid off. Who will step up the plate next?