Jean Paul Gaultier's farewell fashion show during Spring 2020 Couture Week—his career ran for 50 years prior to his recent retirement announcement on Twitter—was the perfect medley of the familiar, favored, and fascinating.
Worn by his muses through the years, fashion's enfant terrible sent down runway looks that have gained for him the aforementioned moniker during his storied career: interpretations of sailor stripes, hefty servings of corsetry (He dressed up Madonna during the artist's 1990 Blonde Ambition tour and made pop culture history in the process), and dozens of provocative looks that spanned the codes of camp and couture.
Perhaps it’s our penchant for the well-made and visually stunning or our hangover from fine Filipino things at TernoCon over the weekend—but a review of the show’s hundred-plus looks made us stop and stare at one specific look: Did Karlie Kloss just wear a terno at Jean Paul Gaultier’s last hurrah? Yes? No?
The playful white pantsuit in question, replete with Gaultier's signature sailor hat, bore what looked like butterfly sleeves similar to those found in the Philippine terno.
How the silhouette found its way to a piece from his farewell collection is not surprising to us at all. It could be that he referenced a chapter from his youth, when he was stationed in Manila as designer and store manager for fashion legend Pierre Cardin (also in attendance at his former ward’s farewell show) at the latter's Malate atelier in the 1970's.
The sleeve construction may just have been inspired by Gaultier's close encounters with the Philippine terno and the women who wore it—including his assistant and eventual fashion designer and retailer Helena Carratala.
Then again, a closer look reveals a couple of inconsistencies with the terno sleeve as we know it: the sleeves were cut long and do not bear the accordion pleating technique typically seen on ternos made by reputable designers. But we love this haute couture look anyway, as we do practically every well-made and visually stunning thing.