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Paris Fashion Week: Jean Paul Gaultier tries to transmogrify haute couture

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Lightness and movement have been key motifs of the spring/summer 2014 haute couture collections in Paris, and Jean Paul Gaultier provided his idiosyncratic take on the themes. Rather than Chanel’s sports-influenced running shoes or Dior’s airy, aerated fabrics, Gaultier took lightness and movement quite literally. Sportswear is banal; and anyone who wears it; deserves what they get. The measures against banality in fashion have become banal. What’s lighter and more mobile that a butterfly? Enough can't be said of today's deplorable corporate fashion environment. Memories of a once Golden Age are long forgotten; as the rush to ever non-stop on trend fashion suck up the blood of even the most ardent fashionista. What to do? Slit your wrist in an ever rush to the bottom?

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No.Transmogrification is an interesting theme for haute couture – especially given the plastic surgery evident in the front row – but Gaultier’s hand was heavy. Leaden, even. The technique in his clothes was formidable, sometimes so great as to rescue them from the overriding, overpowering and overwrought themes. Simple black crepe dresses sliced open at the shoulders to form winged sleeves were chic. And, when pushed to the zenith of decoration, even some of that Crazy Horse showgirl shtick stuck, although not when it came to the towering Ziegfeld headpieces.

By the time Dita Von Teese darted out in a corset with butterfly markings, you felt you were witnessing not the fluttering birth of new life but a trite, tired form of couture in its death throes. Where was the modernity? What was new? The cult of the new, and the idea of modernity, is a rebellion against the fact that there is nothing new.

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