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c.2012 New York Times News Service

PARIS Susanne Bartsch, the New York club promoter, arrived at the Jean Paul Gaultier show Saturday night wearing a see-through black body stocking and a broad chiffon headpiece that toppled over into her neighbor's airspace. That would be mine.

''I came from the Vivienne Westwood show, and I had to change because of course I had to wear something of his," she said, meaning something by Gaultier. "It is insane!"

Moments earlier, members of a middle-aged Kiss tribute band walked by wearing silver stretch bodysuits that left not enough to the imagination. The runway was covered in some form of glittering black grit that emitted a strange smell, and Gaultier was promising a show with top models dressed as pop stars from the 1980s, including Madonna, Grace Jones, Annie Lennox, Sade, Michael Jackson and a couple you would recognize only if you are French.

So, yes, it was insane. But insanity, or just loosening up, is something that fashion could stand a little more of now and then, and Gaultier's runway show was hilarious. Karlie Kloss, with her swingy-slinky walk, was a natural as Boy George in a rainbow-striped kimono jacket, and Jessica Stam performed at least two versions of Madonna, wearing a corseted costume that Bartsch leaned over and described as "couture bondage." (As far as the clothes went, the Jane Birkin section offered the most commercially viable options, like a jeans jacket in denim-colored sequins.) By the time the descriptive-resistant performer Amanda Lear made an appearance, in a shiny pink bathing suit, there were no words, just applause.

In a season of serious fashion, with a lot of intensity surrounding the ready-to-wear collections of Raf Simons at Dior and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent, there were still bursts of levity.

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, now in their second year as the designers of Kenzo, have had a commercial hit with their sweatshirts embroidered with the face of a tiger, which are competing with Balenciaga's poster-print graphics for the title of most ubiquitous look among showgoers. So their spring collection carried forward with more jungle imagery, this time Asian-inspired, with tiger stripes and digitally rendered leopard spots as hidden embroidery amid the dresses and coats. Some pieces, like a smartly belted duster dress in khaki and navy, were loosely based on the elements of a trench coat.

Isabel Marant gave equal play to Hawaiian floral prints and Indian paisleys in her easygoing collection, which consisted of the usual assortment of slim-fitting jeans and blouses, cutoff shorts and slouchy sweatshirts, or just enough for a cool girl to find something to love.

Over at Carven, Guillaume Henry was a little heavy-handed with dark, wintry colors and suits made of a thick sponge-y fabric, but he also offered a clever toile print on sunny dresses with cutouts at the sides. If you looked closely, the toile depicted an African safari, with lions lounging under trees and giraffes craning their necks.

Rather than playing coy, Peter Copping went for kinky this season at Nina Ricci, pairing many of his looks with fishnet stockings. That includes one clear fishnet-print raincoat. It was a bit too much, but the sexier look worked well enough with playful polka-dot dresses that were just on the safe side of transparency, or when he sobered up a suit, with a brazen slit skirt and a jacket with elasticized sleeves, with a touch of gray men's-wear checks.