Eye on the Runway: Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Spring 2013

Jean Paul Gaultier‘s woman for spring ’13 couture is, apparently, the sort of client who favors the conscious celebration of bad taste — think western fringed jackets, bra-revealing bombers, and gilded snakeskin trenches. Where Gaultier has so often taken the louche and the decadent and spun them with elegant, eccentric, only-in-Paris effect, this time his effort fell flat — its joie de vivre eviscerated by its aimlessness.

Gaultier invoked a bit of Arabia, with richly hued headscarves, and mixed in a bit of India, with the subcontinent’s sartorial maximization of color and adornment. But there was little coherence, making the collection feel choppy, like the designer was distracted. Look no further than an obsidian-black coat, fringed in chocolate-brown leather along the lapel, its skirt tiered in fabric swaths the colors of badly-dyed easter eggs — a disaster, for all intents and purposes. The show’s closing look, a wide-hooped dress patch-worked in matte gold bits with a harness across its chiffon-sleeved midriff top, sealed the sloppiness — especially when the model lifted it to reveal four small children underneath.

–Nicholas Remsen

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Images: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images