Gaultier Paris – Sacai Haute Couture FW2021

Jean Paul Gaultier returns to couture with a theatrical parade signed Sacai

A new era is opening within the Parisian fashion house, with the inauguration of the collaborative project initiated by the designer in March 2020. The creative controllers are entrusted this season to Chitose Abe, the Japanese designer of Sacai, who orchestrates the fall-winter 2021-2022 show.

This is a return that was expected. Remember, in January 2020 Jean Paul Gaultier gave a final round of his long and joyous creative madness (fifty years of career), at the Théâtre du Châtelet, in Paris. A farewell party like little seen in fashion. It was then the end of the shows, the merry mess, the performances … But in March 2020, the designer took everyone by surprise announcing that he was coming back with a new concept of haute couture. The French fashion designer explained to start a chapter with Chitose Abe, the artistic director of Sacai, invited for a season to rethink the codes of the house. An unprecedented collaborative project on the haute couture scene which was to be presented in the wake of fashion week in July.

This was without counting the health crisis and the successive restrictions put in place. After a year of postponement, the time has come to lift the veil on this new collaboration in which Jean Paul Gaultier says he has kept away from the creative process. The couturier made available his archives, his workshops, his walls, and Chitose Abe reinterpreted.

Madonna’s corset

In each of the silhouettes presented by the Japanese designer, we find iconic elements that have made the house famous. The corset famously worn by Madonna is reinterpreted here as a majestic quilted brassiere over a striped suit, itself redesigned as a ball gown. The mix of satin and stripes is everywhere. Likewise, it can be found cut into a trench coat or even a bomber jacket reinvented as an evening dress. The famous silhouette worn by Björk when she paraded for Jean Paul Gaultier in 1994 is revised in large proportions and edged with faux fur.

All the hybrid fashion, the technical and innovative aspects that make Chitose Abe’s work so specific are expressed in denim dresses with completely redesigned seams. High-end creations, right down to the swirling striped sweater with its tulle and tartan trains. And which underlines its potential for rebirth.

Obviously, Chitose Abe has identified all the references to Jean-Paul Gaultier that she could find – stripes, deconstruction, bombers and trench coats – and put them in the blender with her own assembly techniques. Which gave a rather … messy result.

There are still some ideas that deserve an immediate place in the fashion pantheon, including this spectacular bomber-inspired jumpsuit designed for a mad courtier, or the collection’s only truly memorable look – a superhero in an Irish sweater patchwork and matching platform boots.

In the end, the collection confirmed Gaultier’s exceptional talent – and how difficult it is to follow in his footsteps. If Chitose Abe, who is arguably one of the 20 most influential designers in recent years, struggles to impose himself, what about the others?

As the models did their final round, Abe and Gaultier came out smiling, with the former wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the text Enfants Terribles. So far they proved to be the coolest kids at couture.