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Paris Menswear Report
Jean Paul Gets Married - click for photos
Written by Timothy Hagy

Dior Homme
PARIS, July 2 - Jean Paul Gaultier unofficially opened the Paris men's shows for Spring / Summer 2005 with a witty, and at times emotional, tribute to same sex marriage. That topic has even recently gotten the nonchalant French up in arms, with both camps fighting over exactly what the Gallic position should be as the upholders of "liberté, égalité, fraternité".

For the fashion crowd, at least, the subject drew few protestors, and the splendid show was vintage Gaultier wrapped up with a fresh lightness. The famed designer began a new era with the dedication of his headquarters, renovated from an old theatre on Rue Saint Martin.

"It was my wedding day to the House," a beaming, and much thinned Gaultier told Fashionlines, champagne glass in hand, "now go have some cake". His guests were certainly celebrating the moment with what was genuine goodwill and happiness. Cathy Horyn, chief fashion editor for the New York Times, was reaching for one of the cream filled caramel confections that was layered to form a cone-like cake, while a long line of admirers including Richard Buckley, and Michael Roberts, illustrator of the New Yorker, waited patiently to kiss Jean Paul on the cheek.

The space was arranged with rows of benches to resemble church pews, and Gaultier's models, both male and female, came down the aisle as same sex couples, occasionally holding hands. As the show grew to the finale, church bells pealed, and two men dressed in flowing, white layering symbolically captured that most elusive of all esprit - lifetime commitment.

Light and whimsical, suits wafted with touches of robin-egg blue, rosy beige and shimmering mocha, set off by interesting shredded half shirts. Tops and sweaters were layered with summery colors - forest green, teal, goldenrod and powder blue. Trenches were spruced up with cerulean hoods, while electric blue and orange scuba-like jackets seemed destined for some tropical seaside. But for the ultimate nuptials, in say Mykanos or Provincetown, why not try satin tails with fine thin trains, worn shirtless with fluorescent bikinis? It was a sizzling look, and the occasional nod to sailor suits and skirt-pants rounded out the presentation.

For all the lightness that the collection evoked, there was also a tinge of sadness as Jean Paul Gaultier stood alone greeting guests. It was in 1990 that he lost the love of his life, Francis Menuge, to AIDS. So much has passed in the world since, and of course Gaultier's own career has rocked to fame. But it was his companion who helped him open a house in his own name, and saw him through the turbulent gender bending 80s when he was very much the bad boy of fashion. So coming full circle with the opening of sleek new headquarters, now a respected and polished couturier, the soundtrack sang out "even when I'm old and grayŠ you make me feel so young." And in spirit at least, Francis was very much present on Jean Paul's wedding day.

Jean Paul Gets Married - click for photos
Dior, Gaultier, Kenzo, Marongiu, Matsushima, Paul Smith, Petrov, Dubuc, Simons, Vuitton

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