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Deals & Steals

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Sharp lines and rapturous curves — they comprise both calligraphy and couture. So perhaps it makes sense that Jean Paul Gaultier, a master at working a theme, connected the dots. The result was a collection that was often beautiful, even though multiple subplots weakened the core message.

Where once Gaultier might have had his way with feathers and embroideries, here he ornamented the clothes with bold graceful strokes, swirling florid lines around the seductive, leg-baring slash of a cocktail dress or the border of a sweeping white gown. The script shtick proved intrinsic to construction as in a black-and-white lace dress that also appeared to have been inspired by cathedral arches. Countering such feminine curvature, Gaultier offered plenty of the his-for-her persuasion inspired not only by the strict side of artistic penmanship but by Klaus Nomi, the cultish German opera singer who died of AIDS in 1983. Gaultier had the performer’s exaggerated V-shaped tuxedo in mind when designing his own suitings, including the sharp-shouldered smoking that opened the show.

Nor did Gaultier stop with the contrasts there. Rather, he worked a good-girl-bad-girl motif, most obviously in a single item: a terrific black-and-white dress, angelic in front and a bit devilish in back. Otherwise, the bad-girl burlesque routine grew tiresome. As for yet another motif, the toreador, it offered some winners, including a spectacular chain mail jacket. As a collection, all of this made for too much going on, with no one message carrying the day, as if Gaultier were uncharacteristically unsure of his first instincts. That said, women wear clothes one by one, and Gaultier delivered his share of stars.

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