The scene outside the Grand Rex, Paris’ decadent Art Deco cinema, was total mayhem. The roads were completely blocked as thousands of people had come to bid adieu to fashion’s foremost enfant terrible. In a statement earlier this month, Jean Paul Gaultier announced he would no longer be producing prêt-à-porter collections, focusing instead on couture, perfume, and special collaborations. Sad though it was, it was also cause for celebration.
The ticket was a sash in the French tricolor, suggesting a sort of beauty pageant. Popcorn and champagne greeted us before we took our seats, both perfectly encapsulating the spirit of Gaultier: pop and chic. It was clear from the start that we were there to watch a competition for Miss Jean Paul Gaultier 2015, but more importantly to celebrate the ages of Gaultier’s designs. The icons were all there: cone bras, half-sided smoking jackets, sports branding, Breton stripes, high camp, sex, and more sex! Our host, Alex Taylor, was bilingual for the competition, joined by the inimitable Rossy de Palma. Gaultier took the opportunity to show us nine retrospective mini-collections, all bidding for the title: Miss Marinière, Miss Homage a Madame de Palma, Miss Tour de France, Miss Meteo, Miss Redactrice de Mode, Miss Femme de Footballeur, Miss Vintage, Miss Smoking, and Miss Lucha Libre.
The biggest cheers were raised for Miss Redactrice de Mode, as he paid homage to the editors who have supported him the most. To Madonna’s Vogue, he sent down lookalikes for Franca Sozzani, Grace Coddington, Carine Roitfeld, and the genius casting of Lindsey Wixson as Suzy Menkes. His tongue-in-cheek Loco Logo anti-branding was a clear reference to the Junior Gaultier line of the 90s that’s inspiring so much of the new crop — another reminder that Gaultier has been there, done that.
The energy was utterly infectious, and of course the winner was his beloved Coco Rocha, wearing a skintight ensemble featuring an iconic cone-bra dress. She immediately faux-fainted, and the runner up, Anna Cleveland, stepped over her and snatched the crown. Gaultier ran out against a backdrop of models dancing and waving their sashes in the air, wearing his own sash that read Miss L’Enfant Terrible. It was a triumphant and fitting end to a fabulous career. Bring on couture.