We're still holding our breath to see what confections that crazy bastard Karl Lagerfeld will turn out for Chanel and that crazier bastard Marc Jacobs will whip up for Louis Vuitton, but it looks like they're going to have at least one tough act to beat: Nicolas Ghesquiere turned out one helluva show for Balenciaga. The critics? Madly in love. And clearly the bonhommie extends to Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe, as well. Jean-Paul Gaultier however? Potentially past his prime. Below, a "critical" roundup of the latest Paris shows.

"[A] blockbuster image for next season" "Using futuristic methods of pattern-cutting with ultra-sound waves and laser technology" ""thronging" technique" "carved with icy precision" —Hilary Alexander, The Telegraph

"How many designers would have the temerity to use something as bourgeois as a flower print, and then build an entire collection around it?" "If you're wondering why you should care about a collection that is so plainly ageist (it's the prints and small shoulders, not the hemlines)... Consider the impression of seamlessness made by the designs, though in fact there are seams. We may just be looking at the future." —Cathy Horyn, The New York Times

"So this was Balenciaga in full bloom" "another of Ghesquière's short-sharp revolutionary essays in couture technique" "standout shoulder lines, hand-span waists, and belled (almost panniered) hip volume" "undulating folds sutured together with curvilinear topstitching" "But would this be wearable? What a silly question...Nicolas Ghesquière is one of the very few who can have his cake, sell it, and sit back and watch the rest of the market scramble for the crumbs." —Sarah Mower, Style.com


Comme des Garcons
"[T]here was a purpose to her chaos" "superbly captured the randomness in our culture and, at the same time, the impossibility of attaching a moral standard to it" "incredibly free and deft" "it all made lovely sense" —Cathy Horyn, The New York Times

"[F]rills tumbling down trousers like cutout streamers, semidetached squares of striped fabric and half capes as folded angel wings at each shoulder" "cartoon-like quality" "chaotic, yet it was filled with a manic energy" "But do not ask Kawakubo what that means for modern women. She just sends out her extraordinary clothes." —Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune

"Wherever you find fashion trends, must-haves or what's hot you can be certain you will never find Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons." "commanded by a mysterious internal voice, known only to her" "collection concentrated...on" "the art of subtracting and reducing a garment to its barest essentials, re-constructing it with only the bare bones...and then contrasting it with another item of clothing that, at first glance, appeared to have no relevant relationship whatsoever" "might have been worn by an extremely directional Swan Lake corps de ballet" "clothes as brilliant, dreamlike scarlet specters" —Hilary Alexander, The Telegraph


"[S]omething deliberately demented" "a bewildering mash-up of layers" "How to make sense of this? Don't try: The madness was the message" "Then, of course, it all fell into place as a figurative observation of the state of modern urban consciousness" "within all this there are near-sane simple pieces Kawakubo will fill her stores with, and sell, too" "there is no one to touch the free-thinking experimentalism Kawakubo can bestow on fashion." —Sarah Mower, Style.com

Junya Watanabe:
"[S]imple but effective" "infantile fascination this season with diaper pants" —Cathy Horyn, The New York Times


"[G]auzy, drape-y beauty" "made summer dressing seem, for the first time this season, beautifully effortless" "simple materials tethered to bands of utilitarian tape" "the only clue he gave afterward about his starting point was, 'It all goes back to Africa'" "delivered a rare sequence of delightful surprises" "one of the season's most sensitive interpretations of overground trend from an underground source" —Sarah Mower, Style.com

Jean-Paul Gaultier:
"[S]ome solid looks" "reprising the pirate theme made the presentation seem old hat. He, too, has a thing for diaper pants." —Cathy Horyn, The New York Times


"Jean Paul Gaultier's shows are turning into a formula (Bring on the drag queen poseur puffing on a pipe!) and that is a pity" "riff on "Pirates of the Caribbean"" "he now needs the courage to send out a collection that can stand in its own right, without the bells and whistles and pistol-head umbrellas" —Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune

"[A] jolly, rollicking romp" "female versions of Johnny Depp in breeches" "All the familiar accoutrements of the buccaneer wardrobe were included" —Hilary Alexander, The Telegraph

"Captain Jack Sparrow is alive and well" "all that was missing was the gold teeth and the eye liner" "Like the Black Pearl, Gaultier's ship gets around" "The pirate conceit gave this layer-loving designer an opportunity to really pour it on" "instead of his usual solitary finale bride, Gaultier sent out a veritable bridal party in bohemian crochet, eyelet, and lace, or creamy clouds of tulle" "The pirate tale was thrill-a-minute, and, picked apart, filled with plenty of wearable booty." —Nicole Phelps, Style.com