Out with the G(auld)tier, in with the new. This, presumably, was the leading topic of conversation between Jean Paul Gaultier and Haider Ackermann, following the breath of fresh air that was the latter’s Haute Couture week design debut for the historic house.
Gaultier once said of his eponymous label: “I start each collection thinking [about] how I can refresh my classics.”. This season, he and Ackermann took an entirely new approach. As the fourth designer to be invited by Gaultier to design a collection – following formidable precedents left by Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, sacai’s Chitose Abe and Y/Project’s Glenn Martens – Ackermann had some big shoes to fill. But his experimental take on shimmering fabrics, avant-garde silhouettes and bold, citrus colours of the likes of lemon, lime and tangerine added a zest to Couture Week that was welcomed by many.
It should be noted that Ackermann’s acclaim speaks for itself. Having spent months working as an apprentice for Galliano following his time at the revered Royal Academy of Arts in Antwerp, he went on to found his own eponymous label which was widely respected by industry leaders such as the late Karl Lagerfield. His celebrity dressing roster is as impressive as it is loyal (if Tilda Swinton approves, you’re basically set) and has allowed Ackermann to reach the stratospheric levels of notoriety and success that in turn, presented him with the once in a lifetime opportunity to design for the legendary Jean Paul Gaultier.
Whilst Jean Paul Gaultier has been relatively reclusive over the past few years, trusting contributing designers to guest spearhead his shows, the iconic designer worked closely with Ackermann this season, giving him advice and support as opposed to creatively stifling him. There was a frosty blue carpet that reflected knife-like, icicle inspired feather silhouettes, a nod to the villain with cavernous hoods and capes, plus an ode to streetwear elements with a shiny silk, tracksuit style cuffed leg ensemble.
It was almost as if we’d been transported back to the good old days of vintage Couture, when models were Supermodels (with a capital S) and gowns took months to make by hand. We love a fashion gimmick, of course, but Ackermann and Gaultier strove to focus on quality as well as showmanship this season. Models dressed in fluid pinstriped suits sauntered to the edge of the walkway and lingered at the end, striking a pose for the audience in a classically theatrical Gaultier fashion.
Towering heels were paired with military-esque features and a kimono inspired gown made waves with its floor length flow and vibrant, neon green lining. A glittering A-List audience included Timothée Chalamet, one of Gaultier’s known muses, decked out in full Jean Paul Gauliter sequins and military boots, alongside Kylie Jenner in a low cut, sparkling gown. Amusingly, when Timmy was spotted pointing enthusiastically at a glittering silver robe BTS, social media users were quick to compare it to the meme of a front row Jared Leto obsessing over a neon green SS17 Gucci Peter Pan Coat that he would eventually wear to the Suicide Squad premier.
In the end, Haider Ackermann plus Jean Paul Gualtier equaled a recipe for Couture success. A collection that highlighted a delicious fusion of Ackermann’s unique design takes and Jean Paul Gaultier’s classically feminine silhouettes that pay tribute to the ultra dramatic, this was the collaboration that was the icing on the Paris Haute Couture Week cake.
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