Tattooed skin at Jean Paul Gaultier

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Jean Paul Gaultier showed tattooed leather and classic pinstripe Saturday for a signature look that was all Parisian elegance with a subversive touch, midway through the Paris runway shows for spring 2012.

Pinstriped suit jackets left the back nude, one simply wrapping around the neck like a scarf on bare shoulders, above a fully tailored front complete with square pockets.

Underneath, corset-like wide belts cinched the waistline above full-length Bohemian skirts in white cotton, or nude jersey sheaths.

Nude calf skin jackets were scored with Asian-inspired navy blue tattoo patterns, while human tattoos -- real ones on the skin of female performers, painted ones on Gaultier's models -- added a touch of edginess to the affair.

Spectacular earrings injected a punk-rock feel, while bright orange pieces wrapped flawlessly around the body offered a softer take on femininity.

High sandals and pumps displayed a silver-tipped Japanese heel, helping the models walk the runway like Hollywood Lolitas.

"It's 100-percent Gaultier," the designer told reporters backstage. "What do I do best? I revisit what I have done before, but with a twist."

In 1992 the designer showcased a collection based on tattoos, but back then they were seen as "ethnic, rebellious."

These days, "it's almost classic, bourgeois -- everyone has a tattoo and at least one piercing," he quipped.

The Fashion Week crowd was also granted a mock-candid glimpse behind the scenes with models readying for the show on a scaffold above the runway.

Gaultier said he wanted to show his clothes "in a more human setting" than the classic runway, where girls "under spotlights walk by staring into thin air."

The goings-on above head, he said, were not an act: "that's what normally happens except we tried to make less noise, normally there's a lot of shouting."

A French former TV weathergirl added a humorous touch, introducing each look with a mischievous pet name -- from "Excuse my French" to "Look of Seduction" or "My bellybutton has a problem".

She also gave the game away at times, revealing for instance that outfit "Number One, 'Belle de Jour'," was worn by Karlie Kloss, the US top model "who loves the colour turquoise and chocolate."

Gaultier -- whose company is now majority controlled by the Spanish group Puig -- seemed to have scored a hit with the buyer crowd.

"No matter how the show is styled, the cut in Jean Paul Gaultier's jackets always ranks among the best in the world," Maria Luisa, buyer and fashion editor for the Paris department store Printemps, said as she left.

© 2011 AFP

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