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Gaultier, Valentino, Font close couture shows in Paris

July 9, 2009 |  1:49 pm

Jean Paul Gaultier paris fashion week haute couture The winter 2010 haute couture shows are over ... so here's a final look -- at John Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Josep Font. Jenny Barchfield of the Associated Press reports:

"Jean Paul Gaultier [pictured at left] looked to vintage Hollywood for a solid collection that was equal parts Ava Gardner and Gaultier — the one-time enfant terrible of French fashion — himself.

"Things were looking up at Valentino. Its new design duo finally found their way out of the archive and forged a sexy new look for the mythic Italian label. Out went the ladylike day coats and tasteful A-line cocktail dresses in jewel-toned duchess silk; in came the second-skin bodice dresses in flesh-colored tulle and black lace; and up, way up, went the hemlines.

"For his fourth couture display, Spanish designer Josep Font continued to shore up his avant-garde credentials with a ravishing collection of think pieces."

Valnetino paris fashion week haute couture At Valentino, Barchfield, writes, "the new design team aimed to seduce a younger, hipper clientele with a racy tulle and lace collection [check out the model at right] that projected the Valentino woman out of the past and into fashion’s future." She continues:

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli — who last year replaced Valentino’s successor just two seasons after the maestro retired — had been stuck in the label’s archives. For their first two collections at the helm of the house, they delivered up couture and pret-a-porter collections that were "more Valentino than Valentino," full of gorgeous-but-dated coats and dresses embellished with oversized bows and roses.

This time around, however, they swapped stateliness for sexiness, delivering bustiers in nude tulle with panels of black peek-a-boo lace and thigh-skimming skirts.

As for Josep Font, Barchfield proclaimed the Spanish designer "crazy" and, possibly, "brilliant."

"Font pushes haute couture — that anything-goes laboratory of fashion — to its avant-garde extreme.

"Josep Font paris fashion week haute coutureModels in his show Wednesday could barely walk — and it wasn’t on account of the vertiginous heels, as it is on many catwalks. Enveloped in a small mountain of mohair shag — a funnel-shaped coat — or swathed in endless in yards (meters) of featherlight chiffon — an embroidered tunic dress — and with pointy plastic collages balanced on their heads, the models did a strange geriatric shuffle around the catwalk."

Indeed, some of Font's creations [that's one of his at left] look like illustrations from a modern version of "Through the Looking-Glass." We could envision a slimmer version of the Red Queen mincing "about in a white cocktail dress with a single red sleeve with an enormous puff that in profile resembled an oversized Sacred Heart" (to quote Barchfield).

-- Alice Short

Pictures: Fall-Winter 2009/2010 Paris couture shows.

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Photos: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images (Gaultier); EPA (Valentino); EPA (Font).