The raven haired, perma-tanned designer served them up in long and short iterations, layering miniskirt over miniskirt over leggings, or pairing razor-cut blazers with ankle-length skirts with bold slits up the back.
“I’m not going to sell tons of them,” Owens acknowledged in a post-show interview. “But if there’s anyone on the planet that can sell skirts to men, it’s me.
“It’s a niche, but I like the niche,” he said.
Besides the skirts, the collection _ shown in a stadium in eastern Paris that was plunged into darkness for the occasion _ was dominated by floor-length tank dresses in nubby blacks, charcoal grays and khakis. With their long, elegant lines, the dresses evoked hermits wandering the desert sands.
“I like the idea of promoting dignity and wisdom,” said Owens, adding that for him, the man dress _ with its airs of Ancient Greece and philosophers and monks _ embodies both.
It’s a fair guess that many, many men might disagree with Owens on that one. But watching his models, who looked willowy and ravishing in their dresses, those present at Thursday’s show couldn’t help but agree.
Gaultier stripped fashion in every sense of the word, peeling off the industry’s glossy exterior to reveal its less-than-glamorous inner workings and stripping the models to their boxer shorts. In theory, the display was meant to be something like the moment in Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled aside to reveal the hidden machinations.
But the problem with taking that approach for a fashion show, at least from the designer’s perspective, is that the clothes have to fight for the audience’s attention with models in various states of undress _ a battle the clothes nearly always lose.
Such was the case at Gaultier, where a small army of dressers and makeup artists and stylists prepared the models on a two-story scaffolding set up at the top of what’s usually the runway.
A disembodied voice read out a description of each look _ old-school haute couture style _ as the models alighted from the scaffolding and ambled around the showroom. They paused in front of tables specially reserved for buyers, who reached out to feel the fabrics _ eyepopping Hawaiian prints, houndstooths and sailor striped knits _ and jotted their orders down on special forms.
Product number tags dangled from the backs of the jackets and tuxedo trousers and from head-to-toe plaid suits topped off with matching plaid trench coats. Standout pieces included a trompe l’oeil jumpsuit that cleverly imitated a three-piece suit in robin’s egg blue and another pantsuit in fabric printed with the Paris street signs for the rue Saint-Martin, where Gaultier has his headquarters.
Overall, it was a novel approach, but it had a clinical, forced feel to it lacking Gaultier’s trademark joie de vivre.
DRIES VAN NOTEN
Dries Van Noten knows the surest way to reach a man’s softer side: swathe femininity in sportswear.