PARIS (Reuters) - Bouffant wigs and white boots, French sailor stripes, a silver sequin staircase and a disco beat kicked off Jean Paul Gaultier's au revoir to the world of ready-to-wear in Paris on Saturday, and that was just the prelude.
The enfant terrible of French fashion gave jaded fashionistas a jolt of fun during what he said would his last pret-a-porter show, and, never one to be shy, he pulled out all the stops.
In a fashion week that already had a high dose of weirdness, from Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's baby North West in the front row at Balenciaga to the release of a book about Karl Lagerfeld's fluffy white cat Choupette, Gaultier's show was the hottest ticket.
The beauty pageant theme began with the invitations - sashes which read "Miss Jean Paul Gaultier" - and continued with a bevy of beauties who strutted a catwalk that extended into the Art Deco auditorium of the Le Grand Rex theater.
Kitschy fun from the man who brought you Madonna's conical bustier is a hallmark of his shows.
Saturday's show incorporated a striptease by Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, Mexican wrestling by models and even a heartily applauded inside joke as Gaultier sent models down the runway dressed as fashion's who's-who, from Vogue creative director Grace Coddington to veteran fashion reporter Suzy Menkes.
Gaultier, a force in the business since the 1980s, announced this month that he was quitting ready-to-wear.
The brand, owned by Spanish perfumer Puig, will now on focus on haute couture, perfume, and collaborations within the industry, he said.
Gaultier's last ready-to-wear show will likely leave his fans wanting more, and despite the kitschy sub-sections of the show, including an ode to so-called "WAGS", or wives and girlfriends of footballers, there were new ideas in some of the looks.
The designer revisited tuxedo dresses and suits, but in Gaultier's new version, one side morphed into a flowing cape.
Somehow Gaultier managed to make black sequined bike shorts, in an homage to the Tour de France, look elegant. A pair of oh-so-tight white satin pants paired with a matching hoodie, in the nod to "Lucha Libre" Mexican wrestling, was chic enough to fight over.
The cape reappeared in pink silk charmeuse, attached to a corset dress that was pure Paris coquette, while a simple strapless black jumpsuit cut just above the ankles was classy and devoid of extraneous detail.
When the grand finale arrived and the pink-clad beauty contest winner named, it came with gold sequins falling from the ceiling, an exultant Gaultier running down the catwalk to take his bow to a standing ovation from the crowd, and the wrestlers, WAGS and others waving their beauty pageant sashes and singing along to Chic's 1978 disco hit, "I Want Your Love".
Now doesn't the fashion world need more of that?
(Reporting by Alexandria Sage)