Jean Paul Gaultier staged his last prêt-à-porter show ever tonight at Le Grand Rex, a cinema in Paris’ second arrondissement. “End of an era,” the stories went when he announced earlier this month that he would shutter his ready-to-wear collection to focus on haute couture and his perfume business. And tonight, seemingly all of Paris came out to commemorate the moment. It was gridlock for blocks outside the theater, with hundreds of gapers and almost as many crashers trying to fight their way in.
Inside it was a scene to match, with the concession stand serving up champagne and boxes of popcorn, and camera crews chasing down Catherine Deneuve and a Who’s Who of Gaultier’s designer peers, including Alber Elbaz, Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott, and Gareth Pugh. Up on the stage it was no formulaic fashion show, either. Not that we expected any different. Runway stunts are as integral to JPG’s DNA as trenchcoats and corsets; he’s had everybody from Madonna to Dita Von Teese to Conchita Wurst on his catwalk. He outdid himself here, putting on a beauty pageant complete with a judge played by Rossy de Palma parodying Madame de Fontenay, the behatted former chairwoman of the Miss France committee.