“As you know, I love to experiment with materials,” Julien Dossen

The fifth consecutive season in which Gaultier had a guest designer interpret its couture collections, at this year’s Paris couture AW23 season. Gaultier’s rotating list of guest designers, this year’s guest designer was the latest addition to and their creative director, Julien Dossene, latest to make his couture debut. Julien has a long history of designing for the ready-to-wear market, but this is his first couture debut.

Around the same time as Jean Paul (Jean Paul) and Paco (Paco), two fashion icons with their own unique style and attitude, Julien wrote a love story for Paris, naming each look after some of the city’s iconic landmarks, all set to the sounds of the streets and the steps of people walking on the city’s cobblestones.

“I wanted a feeling of characters you pass in the street in Paris,” Julien Dossene said. “I wanted to make all of them queens, each with a different crown.”

Inside the darkened room of Gaultier’s Rue Saint Martin headquarters, where the audience was seated so tightly that guests were nearly knee-deep in chairs, the night air was filled with a sense of anticipation as the show began with Natalia Vodianova, adorned with a dramatic black military-style tailcoat, golden scissors and adorned with Eiffel Towers and Cannetilles—a nod to the regalia of the palace and the grandeur of official uniforms—accessorized with a golden braid that cascaded down her back like a Greek goddess.

“We tried to balance this feeling of self-expression and characters: these different expressions of identities; high and low mix-and-match; and at the same time elevating the novel aspect of the craftsmanship of the haute couture to make those characters as couture-y as possible,” Dossena explained.

This was a compilation of some of the favorite Gaultier looks, filtered through the lens of an obsessed fan who introduced me to his own brand of boho-meets-space-age sequin-meets-boho style while he was at Paca Rabanne.

“Jean Paul was the first designer I ever saw on TV when I was very young,” Julien said in an interview. “Watching him, I understood for the first time: oh, fashion can be a job! What he did (became) infused into my cultural background in general.”

Gaultier’s “Adam and Eve” show featured Eve naked beneath a slip dress adorned with black pearls, as well as the iconic giant trapper hat and floor-length chapka black coat from the controversial “Rabbi chic” collection. There were also design signatures that would become part of the fashion legend, such as marabou interpretations of Breton stripes, chainmail versions of punk tartane, and underwear worn as outerwear. Madonna’s “Blonde Ambition” bustier, featuring cone breasts, was also worn in a silver chainmail design, a tribute to Jean-Paul and Paco.

Dossena presented a range of chic-inspired ensembles, including a pinstripe trouser suit paired with a lace dress and a pair of beaded trompe l’oeil jeans with a sweeping train. At one point, in a moment of grandeur that highlighted the beauty of human unity, he draped two pairs of models in shining gold and silver chainmail, one carrying a woman’s train and the other two representing different cultures of goddess warriors.

Ashley Radjarame showed up in silver chainmail and there were gasps as the anamorphic train attached to the suit of the man behind her carrying the train. This was one of those show stopping moments; it wasn’t just a trick, it was a reminder that sometimes, at least at Gaultier, clothes can be a showstopper when designed by a great designer.