07/03/2013 05:01 EDT | Updated 09/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Jean Paul Gaultier back in top form in furry, big cat Paris couture show

PARIS - With a delicious purr, Jean Paul Gaultier pounced back into top form on Wednesday in a feisty, feline-infused couture collection, proving that despite having a couple of off seasons, the enfant terrible of the Paris fashion world still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.

This fall-winter's muse was the female panther, which inspired a slew of fresh ideas, including plenty of new ways to wear leopard and how to dress in feathers to look like a cat.

If it sounds eccentric, it was.

Leopard print featured cheekily on tights below one stylish all-black crepe dress, and there were several incredible couture coats. At first glance they looked like fur, but were made entirely of feathers, speckled like a big cat pelt and with white feathers at the edges to resemble skin.

The collection itself featured a lot of fur-styles in fox collars, spotty cuffs, mink coats as well as prints of panthers — on one look delivered in myriad Swarovski crystals.

Gaultier, ever the showman, ensured the wackiness infused the show's presentation as well.

Forty-three looks filed by to the infectious theme of "The Pink Panther," showcased on models who clawed as they walked. Guests looked on from stalls divided into lionesses, panthers, lynx and leopards. Sometimes they applauded, sometimes they simply laughed.

But aside from all the fun, there was some serious couture at work here.

Inspired by clown costumes, Gaultier showed flair with a new silhouette produced by ice-cream cone-shaped chaps. They tapered out as they rose, in a carrot line, accentuating the hip in a dramatic 1980s style.

It was fresh and engaging, and it seemed to say one of the big cats of Paris is back.


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