A dozen prop-plane rotors began to spin, a deafening roar of take off filled the hall, and Amelia Earhart look-alikes in luxurious bomber jackets and aviator goggles strode down the catwalk.
French saddlemaker Hermes played to its strengths Wednesday with a winter 2010 pret-a-porter collection centered around leather bomber jackets and trenches with oversized, fur-lined hoods.
"I was inspired by a woman, I forgot her name, an American pilot with very short, wavy hair who was wearing an aviator jacket _ which I love _ and a little scarf that was so Hermes," Designer Jean Paul Gaultier said. "That's when I said, 'ah ha, that's it.'"
He paired the outerwear _ in buttery black, gray and caramel leathers, crocodile and astrakhan _ with leggings or pleated pants that tapered from the full thigh to a pegged ankle.
He also served up pencil skirts worn with button-down shirts and skinny ties and coveralls in leather and broadcloth. All the looks were topped by tight, second-skin aviator hoodies and goggles.
Besides the strong, flight-ready looks, Gaultier also served up Earhart's saucier side with ankle-length silk dresses in shiny satin prints.
Accessories _ a major cash cow at the storied label _ were spotlighted in Wednesday's show, held at a former warehouse in eastern Paris.
Models carried crocodile clutches and a new version of the best-selling Birkin bag, which is famed for its price-tag in the thousands of euros (dollars) and its years-long wait list.
Asked if the modified Birkin _ which Gaultier described as a "trompe l'oeil Birkin, a simpler Birkin" that does away with famous bag's the flap opening _ was less expensive than the classic version, Gaultier laughed.
"I don't know that it is," he said.