Fashionista Street: Haute Couture on Crutches?

Coco Rocha as a mermaid bride in Jean Paul Gaultier’s show. (Jean-Luce Huré for The New York Times)

Valentino’s finale wasn’t the only spectacle on Day 3 of Paris Fashion Week. Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection featured the shimmering wet look, including a gold sequined confection drenched by a sponge the model carried in her hand.

“Many of the dresses were as wearable as they were ingenious,” according to NYT’s Cathy Horyn. Something in her description of Gaultier’s closing scene intrigued me:

“Coco Rocha came out as a mermaid bride. At first she hobbled on crutches, then she stopped and released her tight, shimmery dress by a zipper at the hem. She walked on, two gold shells pointing like missiles from her breasts.”

I understand mermaids, Venus on the half shell — all that protean mystery — but what’s the back-story with the crutches? It sounds like a point of convergence between disability studies (think narrative prosthesis) and haute couture. Any thoughts?

About the image: Coco Rocha as a mermaid bride in Jean Paul Gaultier’s show. [Photo by Jean-Luce Huré for NYT]

Paris Fashion Week: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

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4 Responses to Fashionista Street: Haute Couture on Crutches?

  1. odilean says:

    I think that you are right but I wonder if JPG kept this in mind. A lot of designers seem, to me at least, smarter and less frivolous with inspirations (and social commentary) than we give them credit for. What are your thoughts on this and what do you think was achieved by this most unusual stage prop–I would like to know? I wish I could see the runway footage. It is kind of like blackface and I know that cultural studies in disability have taken a backseat to gender and race studies, especially in America but maybe everywhere. Gaultier is a little insane and he is about the most figurative and theatrical designer around. I don’t know if you had a chance to see his designs for dance at Musee de la Mode et du Textile. I was in Paris in the spring of 2007:
    They are very wacky.
    P.S. Any blogger who freely quotes Benjamin while appreciating Parisian street graffiti wins my adoration.

  2. Mark Willis says:

    Ah, odilean, you’ve intuited where this flaneur is wandering. Paris street art has always been a fascination. Couture is a new wrinkle. Walter Benjamin is the spirit at the center of everything. It may take me a long time to articulate it fully, but I’m having fun with fragments along the way.

    If you ever find a video clip of Coco Rocha’s mermaid walk with crutches, please let me know. It’s probably unfair for me to represent it from a disability studies perspective until I know more about the actual runway presentation.

    I’ll check out your post about Musee de la Mode et du Textile and get back to you. Thanks!

  3. odilean says:

    I do not have a crutch walk for you, but here’s a video of her Irish dancing down the runway for JPG last year:

  4. Mark Willis says:

    Interesting. There are more theatrical possibilities to the runway ritual than I realized. What do you think is the big difference between fashion on the runway and on the street?

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