Giambattista Valli and Jean Paul Gaultier: Couture’s Consistent Showmen

From one, glamour gowns. From the other, everything

Celine Dion was sadly not in front row at Giambattista Valli this season, but that doesn’t mean the show was wanting for oohs and aahs. Guests made precisely those noises when the designer sent his signature, cloud-like, tiered, silk tulle finale gowns down the runway—one in salmon, one in rosebud, and the third in a shocking lime green. These pieces take up so much space as they waft and glide past, but they still manage to look lighter than air—and apparently they feel it, too, if the finale model’s backstage giggles, twirls, and shimmies were any indication (she was intent on getting a Boomerang in that bright green stunner). “There is no distraction—no heaviness,” Valli said after his show, which was inspired by a goddess in a garden. Indeed, those last looks were more blossoming flower than toga-wrapped deity, but there were plenty of styles for the latter, though those “togas” were expertly draped evening gowns done in silk chiffon.

Those were the fantasy pieces, and while that’s what Valli does best, there were some lovely, (somewhat) more casual options here too. “I love to support beauty,” the designer said post-show. “I love to work with beautiful, beautiful women—real ones. I dress them and I exist because they buy my clothes. I don’t work for a museum, I don’t work for archives. I really work to dress real women. There is a respect for the body of the woman, there is a respect for her and her lifestyle,” he added, noting that a woman must be able to move in his clothes. (He was genuine in saying that—take as evidence the fact that those tiered ball gowns were paired with flats.) There was a cocktail ensemble comprising a feather-trimmed macramé tunic with matching trousers, both of which were embroidered with crystal flowers; little macramé shift dresses paired with thigh-high boots gave off a Renaissance-gone-go-go vibe; and white, tummy-baring separates adorned with big black bows balanced youth and sophistication. It was a stunningly beautiful collection on the whole—precisely what we and, more importantly, Valli’s dedicated clients have come to expect from the designer. Were Dion there, she would have no doubt been clapping and hollering while giving him a standing ovation.

Jean-Paul Gaultier is another designer that never fails to disappoint his fan base, and Spring 2018 was certainly no exception. This season, he sent out an homage to storied 1960s designer Pierre Cardin who—wait for it—sat front row! Pierre Cardin! Ninety-five-year-old legend! Sitting front row! With groovy tunes thumping over the speaker and hypnotic black-and-white swirls adorning the space, Gaultier paraded a fusion of his own signature styles and Cardin’s space-age aesthetic. There were black-and-white mod patterns galore. There were space-girl-style coifs (courtesy of Odile Gilbert). There were spiral glasses, donned by Anna Cleveland, naturally. There was a fringe-embellished tuxedo and electric-hued monochrome looks and outsized accessories. Most importantly, there was dancing and drama and fun—all JPG essentials. At the end of the show, house favorite Coco Rocha came out to Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg’s ’60s tune “Comic Strip,” did a twirl, and, like a Russian nesting doll, unwrapped her precious little daughter from her skirt. The pair pranced down the runway, occasionally stopping to throw up their arms and do a dance-pose combo. It was adorable. It was a riot. It was a show. And we can always count on JPG to give us that.

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