Jean Paul Gaultier by Nicolas Di Felice Fall 2024 Couture: Hooked on Hook-and-eye Fasteners

The long, sweaty wait for the Jean Paul Gaultier by Nicolas Di Felice couture show Wednesday night left guests plenty of time to contemplate how models might negotiate the narrow white runway between the tightly packed benches, and why the room had been arranged this way.

It was clear from the first few exits that Di Felice, who has generated heat and buzz as the creative director of Courrèges, would focus on slender, corseted silhouettes and minuscule hook-and-eye embellishments that were only discernible up close.

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The collection hewed very closely to his recent sexually charged designs at Courrèges, with hook-and-eye fasteners open along the hipline to allow the entry of one hand near to private parts. It also steered clear of prints, color and volume, favoring plain fabrics torqued tightly around the body.

The show opened in dramatic fashion, the faces of models swallowed up by giant standing collars, or obscured by offbeat eyewear strung with black fabrics or dense lace in lieu of lenses, leaving only foreheads exposed.

It brought to mind Gaultier’s fall 1991 collection, in which some models were encased head-to-toe in houndstooth fabrics — their long cigarette holders included.

Here was an abstract, minimalist take on Gaultier’s famous exploration of corsets and lingerie dressing, the hook-and-eye closures holding together tight pants, scattered as embellishments over a severe evening column, or joined up to create an airy chainmail, also for a stick-to-the-ribs gown.

After the show, Di Felice told a scrum of fashion reporters that he felt it important “to try to work on things that people know less, because we always see the same archetypes and iconic details and pieces.”

As the house’s latest guest couturier, he said he had trawled through the archive and discovered that Gaultier “did a lot of monochromatic silhouettes as well.” Moreover, he widened perceptions of what is considered acceptable dress, sending the message that “you can come to Paris and be who you want because you’re gonna be accepted,” Di Felice enthused.

The designer allowed that lavish embellishments and decoration are expected at couture, “and I’m not gonna lie, that’s not really my cup of tea.”

So we were left with a collection that felt more Di Felice than Gaultier, who worked wonders with velvet, feathers, raffia, leather, pleating — you name it.

The man whose name still hangs on the house gave the collection an enthusiastic thumbs-up, saying he recognized elements of his earlier collections, but Di Felice “redid them in his own way and therefore modernized them.…I don’t expect people to make copies of my work, otherwise there’s no point, right?”

For more couture fall 2024 reviews, click here.

Launch Gallery: Jean Paul Gaultier by Nicolas Di Felice Fall 2024 Couture

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