There’s more than one way to cone a bra, and Simone Rocha included unusual, thorn-shaped protrusions at her restrained yet pretty one-off haute couture collection for Jean Paul Gaultier.
“I love it, it’s not as aggressive as mine. It’s more feminine in a way because it’s more rounded,” Gaultier enthused after the show, raising a glass of Champagne to toast the latest guest designer at the Puig-owned house that bears his name.
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The legendary couturier said Rocha’s effort exceeded his expectations, and in the spirit of the Eurovision song contest, with which he is obsessed, he awarded the designer the maximum vote allotment.
“I should say Ireland, England, China and France — 12 points,” he declared with a laugh. (The daughter of Hong Kong-born designer John Rocha, Simone Rocha is Irish, based in London, and has been moonlighting in Paris ahead of Wednesday’s show.)
“It’s been an amazing experience and wonderful to be here,” Rocha said after the show.
She riffed on three of Gaultier’s main codes — tattoo prints, corsets and sailors — and melded them with the melancholy, homespun femininity that is core to her signature brand.
“His love of the breast and the hip and the female form — exploring that and harnessing it,” the designer said, explaining all the skirts and gowns buffeted with crinoline panniers and bustles.
Breton stripes were represented by navy ribbons tied into bows and tacked loosely to illusion tulle, which also appeared on offbeat padded underpants.
Meanwhile, she treated the corset “as a security and this kind of second skin on the body.” Indeed, her corset dresses often bordered on prim, loosely laced and softened further with fluffs of tulle. Corset lacing also recurred on pink satin sailor hats and on long gloves in blood red, one of Rocha’s fetish colors for her own brand.
There was none of the madcap, camp energy that defined Gaultier shows for decades. Kirsten Owen, one of the moodiest models of the ’90s, walked for Rocha, and exemplified her introspective and pagan vibe.
Owen’s sullen, brunette contemporary, the model known as Steinberg, brooded in her black taffeta mermaid gown, around which orbited 2,000 tiny, blood red feather poms.
No wonder Rocha was gobsmacked by the capabilities of the Gaultier couture atelier. “Incredible, so artisanal,” she said. “They’re able to make dreams come true.”
Launch Gallery: Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Spring 2024
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