Jean Paul Gaultier puts striptease on the catwalkHaute couture black dresses teamed with La Perla lingerie in burlesque act by Dita Von Teese for Paris fashion week.
Jean Paul Gaultier yesterday restaked his claim to the title of French fashion’s enfant terrible, a full two decades after he put Madonna in a cone bra, by having the burlesque artist Dita Von Teese perform a striptease at his first catwalk show since the announcement he had parted ways with Hermès, the historic luxury label he has designed for since 2003.
Ballgowns and wedding dresses are the bread and butter of haute couture. The grander, frothier and more Mills & Boon the dresses, the higher the order sheets stack up. So when Von Teese appeared on the catwalk wearing a floorlength, long-sleeved black dress, caught at her miniature waist with a jet black belt and lushly swagged over her hips and bosom, nothing seemed amiss.
However, after sashaying to the end of the catwalk, she peeled off her dress in sections, beginning with the left sleeve, to reveal a nude mesh corset whose exaggerated hourglass curves were contrasted with jet embroidery tracing the bones of her shoulders, ribs and hip bones.
Striptease is not immediately a bankable choice for a couture show, since Paris haute couture is the exclusive bespoke branch of the fashion industry, and feeds the voracious appetitie of wealthy women for romance and fairytale.
And striptease is not immediately a bankable choice especially for a designer who has recently bowed out of a high-paying, high-profile label in order to concentrate on building a business in his own name.
But the stunt was more businessminded than it might appear.
Gaultier has recently designed a high-end line for the Italian lingerie label La Perla.
Much of this show – from Von Teese’s strip, to the cartoonish shapeliness of skirt suits padded at the shoulder and hip, to the sheer stockings with a motif of the Eiffel Tower climbing the back of the leg – was designed to remind the audience that Gaultier has a strong heritage in lingerie-influenced fashion, from Madonna’s bras to Kylie’s corset dresses.
Alain Prost, chief executive officer of La Perla, said recently that he and Gaultier “shared a common vision of beauty, style, taste and quality. So we agreed to try this adventure together and to unite our savoir faire.”