Jean Paul Gaultier Returns To Couture Under A New Designer
Chitose Abe brought her signature hybrid construction techniques to Jean Paul Gaultier staples.
Jean Paul Gaultier has returned for his first haute couture collaboration since his official retirement last year. The fall 2021 collection has made its debut in Paris featuring iconic archive pieces reimagined by Japanese designer Chitose Abe.
Founder of luxury label Sacai, Chitose Abe reportedly had unprecedented access to the house’s archives and studios. The designer is known for her genius grafting of two different garments to create a unique ensemble, so the idea of grafting her sensibility onto that of Jean Paul Gaultier who she has long admired seemed like the basis for an exciting collaboration.
Mr Gaultier reportedly had limited input in the design process and instead sat as a front-row guest at the show. “It’s very strange. It’s going to be a new sensation for me, in this building I know so well. This is part of it that I don’t know: sitting in the audience watching a show. I’m usually backstage, and I’m made to be backstage, so it’s going to be both very surprising and very moving for me,” Gaultier confided before the show. “I’m sure it will be absolutely gorgeous. I’ve seen a couple of things, but I gave her complete freedom. I didn’t want to see any of the finished looks,” he added.
The couture collection is in classic Gaultier style, with a Sacai twist. Drawing inspiration from past looks, the designer wanted to pay homage to some of Gaultier’s well-known elements such as the Madonna cone bra and Bjork’s look from the AW94 collection. “I didn’t want to take the archives too literally,” explained Abe, “but to make it Sacai and very, very up to date.”
Abe not only re-interpreted Gaultier’s archive classics but innovatively approached category staples by reshaping a trench coat into a baby doll dress and removing sleeves from a pinstripe jacket to create a hybrid corset construction. These designs combined with multiple textures and patterns bring about a feeling of brash edginess and elegant chaos, showing the versatility of the pieces and the genius behind the designer’s eye. Abe’s technical capabilities prove to be well-suited for the art of couture.
There was a strong focus on denim in the collection with upcycled jeans cut into novel silhouettes and even used on chunky platform boots. The classic tattoo print also features on long sleeves and leggings peeking through knits, floor-length gowns and sheer button-up designs.
Jean Paul Gaultier by Sacai signifies growth and a new era for the French fashion house. The duo came out smiling as the models did their final round with Abe wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Enfants terribles’ – a reference to the expression that dogged Gaultier well into his 60s. “There’s basically two enfants terribles this year, so that’s why it's plural,” she said with a smile.