A Perfect Match: Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture by Simone Rocha
One of the most highly-anticipated collaborations of the season, revealed during Haute Couture Spring 2024 in Paris, was a sensual ode to romance blended with iconic Gaultier-isms.
La marinière, the striped Breton sailor shirt synonymous with Gaultier’s style, according to Rocha, should be crafted in white tulle and enhanced by navy ribbons, forming her favorite girly detail, the bow. Cone bras are twisted upwards, as if looking up to the stars, a reference to her signature flower, the rose that never goes without the thorns. Satin corsets, in abundance in the collection, are enhanced by ribbons so long they could touch the floor. The iconic tattoo collection is there, as well: the hand-painted serpent iconography embellished the most delicate tulle ball gowns.
With her Viktorian dresses and crinoline skirts, Rocha showed how she could master the technique of grand flou. Her couture debut was also the best proof that she has a talent for tailoring. A pinnacle of chic, her extraordinary skirt-suits in black wool grain de poudre were adorned with hand-draped conical breasts. Tradition requires: the final bride look, la Mariée, masterfully crafted from Guipure-Chantilly uncut raw lace mounted onto tulle, was modeled by fully-veiled Kiki Willems with great pride, fragility and strength.
They say that the devil is in the details. In Simone’s case, she never holds back on the opulent detailing. With a good dose of wit, the Irish designer went for earrings adorned with fake auburn hair locks, forming her trademark bows. Shoe aficionados will definitely not miss out on the same trick on the perspex mules.
And then there are hats, the iconic sailor caps, a Gaultier signature that couldn’t be left unnoticed, adorned with ribbons or colourful pearls. Last but not least, the collection was filled with flowers that turned into accessories: several models walked down the runway, clutching silver roses in their hands. Backstage, Rocha explained that their mutual friend, Lily Cole, who used to model for Gaultier, told her that he would always gift girls red roses pre-show. The couturier, in attendance at the show, watched attentively, and when Simone Rocha took the bow to standing ovations, he passionately clapped and gave her a big kiss on the cheek. Kindred language of two creative minds, finally reunited.
It’s a fashion tradition we all love. Since his retirement in 2020, Jean Paul Gaultier has been giving full creative freedom and an access to his Couture ateliers on rue Saint-Martin in Paris to an array of guest designers, who work with his classic codes to make them their own. After several blockbuster collaborations with Glenn Martens (Y/Project), Chistose Abe (Sacai), Olivier Rousteing (Balmain), Julien Dossena (Rabanne) and Haider Ackermann, this season it’s the turn of Simone Rocha to take the reins of the iconic house for one season.
For her couture debut, the Irish designer rose up to the challenge with brilliance, delicacy and a lot of love. When models marched on the silver catwalk on Wednesday night, one could feel how Simone enjoyed mingling her own sensual codes and vision of femininity with that of Gaultier’s. The result, a collection filled with romantic references to Simone’s signatures - think bows, ribbons, flowers, colorful crystals and delicate palette of soft pastels with a touch of passionate bright red, but spiced up with the playful, daring and sexy Gaultier-isms.
Text: LIDIA AGEEVA
Images: JEAN PAUL GAULTIER BY SIMONE ROCHA SEEN\ THADDE COMAR, ILYA CHEMETOFF