Party on!

Jean Paul Gaultier’s ‘Palace’ couture collection

He’s come a long way since the days when, as a boy, he would saunter past the Paris Opera House, fascinated by the striking turquoise-green of its verdigris roof. And, indeed, since the wild nights of the late ’70s and early ’80s at Europe’s hippest club, Le Palace, where he’d disco and pose with the crazy exhibitionists, mesmerizing muses, beautiful souls, and his wonderfully extravagant friends. Couture icon Jean Paul Gaultier’s colorful life has given him a unique palette from which to draw inspiration for his astonishingly inventive, sexy collections.

Enter Crystal Scarabeus Green, his latest collaboration with Swarovski. Seen for the first time on the runway of his Spring/Summer 2016 Paris Haute Couture show, this charismatic new crystal effect lit up pieces from his latest Palace collection. Like Proust’s famous Madeleine cake, its otherworldly blue-green-purple shimmer had the power to transport us back…to the future. 

Fused with matt black metal to create showstopper jewelry, the crowd went wild for his Ziggy-era Bowie homage. Similar statement pieces lifted the crystallized dusk-pink boiler suit into the realm of the extraordinary, a skill that’s second nature to the master of the dramatic. There was certainly plenty of theatre: models swigged champagne, smoked and high-fived as they traveled the length of the runway-cum-nightclub. We also caught a glimpse of Le Palace legends Jerry Hall and Grace Jones, who captured the vibe with big-big hair and an androgynous attitude. 

Elsewhere, crystals staged a major presence: Bellhop hats were blitzed with them; bomber jackets shone with them; they lent bleached denim a scintillating couture lift; and loungewear was pinstriped with all the sparkly colors of a rainbow. Meanwhile, slinky one-shoulder sheaths were wrought from Crystal Mesh, plus there was lavish use of Beads and Transfers—an irresistible counterweight to the strict ’80s tailoring. 

If it were possible to sum up what has been a lifetime of playful experimentation, the Palace collection could be described as a glorious celebration of powerful femininity and true rebel hearts, and it dazzles with all the charisma we’ve come to expect from Jean Paul Gaultier.