Jean-Paul Gaultier: Calligraphy Cool
Thu Jan 29, 2:00 PM EST
Godfrey Deeny

Paris – The world's best catwalk mover - Ines de la Fressange - made a mini comeback Wednesday evening, staring in the spring 2009 haute couture collection of Jean-Paul Gaultier.

De la Fressange, the former muse of Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel supermodel, may be 51-year-old mother of two but she can still out sashay any current runway model, as she proved in this show, winning a standing ovation from an audience that included actress Olga Kurylenko, French star Catherine Deneuve, Australian singer Kylie Minogue and actress Emily Blunt.

In a coolly elegant collection inspired by calligraphy, half the looks were intersected or wrapped in mesh and lace, their patterns mimicking scripts and texts.

But the key letter was a futurist V, used to accentuate bolero shoulders or see-through cocktail collars and a striking black cocktail, or a stunning black-and-white body cape. It created a power-woman silhouette, though one with literary sensibilities, highlighted by the swirling ink text that was the show's backdrop.

Where before, Gaultier always injected a dose of tough street taste for humor and to tease bourgeois sensibilities, this season he kept things chicly sober. There were plenty of Gaultier's signature flourishes - a flesh colored corset, this time with in metal and fringed lace, the high-waist femme fatale pants and the trench-coat, though this latest take has an entirely open, and racy, mesh back. A favorite was a chain mail perfecto, a head-turning piece of truly French chic.

The star of this event, however, was a little less the clothes than Ines, who emoted in a one-shouldered tuxedo dress, and then drew a burst of applause in her second look, by gracefully peeling off a striking leather Spencer jacket, with "diamond elbows" as she pirouetted before her fans.

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