Gaultier cracks the whip at Hermes

Jean Paul Gaultier showed his most inspired interpretation of the spirit of the Hermes yet. The French luxury house began life as a saddler and is renowned for its leather goods and silk scarves – and now ready-to-wear – since Gaultier took on the job of Hermes’s women’s designer two years ago. Blacks, browns, mulberries and flashes of metallic silks pervaded the collection. There were pantsuits and smoking jackets, transparent muslin blouses, cuffed trousers worn long over high heels, with bulging fur capes, trailing skirts and Asian-inspired black and golden dresses and jackets printed with dancing girls.

Against the intermittent sounds of horses’ hooves hitting the cobblestones, Gaultier played with the image of the chic Parisienne who fences or canters, Birkin bag in hand. The inspiration for the fabled leather creation, Jane Birkin, was in the audience to see her influence on the contemporary label undergo another paradigm shift under Gaultier’s direction. In an infectious display of his growing confidence as the keeper of the legacy of Hermes, the designer made an unscheduled post-show appearance on the catwalk of the Ecole des Beaux Arts to talk about the “coquette Parisian allure” of the collection.

“It was based on fencing, you know?” he said, miming the act. “But that is only like an accessorisation. It was all about clothes that are good quality and well done with excellent techniques and good fabrics. So fencing was only like a kind of little fantasy to show it in a way that is also an image of Hermes.”

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