As the week drew to a close there seemed to be general agreement among designers that the best thing they could do for their clients was to make them feel powerful by making them feel good. Though what that meant depended on who was doing the designing.

“Inclusivity, diversity, no gender binaries — he was the first one,” said Olivier Rousteing, otherwise known as the creative director of Balmain, ticking off the issues at the forefront of identity politics.

He was talking about designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who retired from his eponymous house in 2020. Since then, a rotating cast of guest designers has been invited to try their hands at reimagining the brand’s couture; Rousteing was the third in line, after Chitose Abe of Sacai and Glenn Martens of Y/Project.

“He was there to fight for all of us,” Rousteing said of Gaultier. The younger designer was practically bouncing with nerves on his giant platform shoes. The collection was, he said, “an open letter of love,” but also “a homage to women, with all the things going on.”

Then he put two molded leather breastplates in the shape of pregnant bellies on his runway.