Gray is beautiful at Jean Paul Gaultier

The 46-year-old actress Valerie Lemercier opened the show, a modest affair by the standards of the man who gave the world Madonna’s pointy-cone bra as daywear and has made a career out of showing skin.

PARIS  _ Jean Paul Gaultier pushed back against Botox, fillers and plastic surgery with a gray behive-topped fall-winter 2011-12 ready-to-wear collection that instead of fighting its age, embraced it.

“It was about women who say ‘I don’t want to look like my teenage daughter,”’ Gaultier told journalists after Saturday’s show. “It’s the ‘bourgeoisie sans age,”’ a catchy rhyme in French that translates, flatly in English, as the ageless bourgeois lady.

The 46-year-old actress Valerie Lemercier opened the show, a modest affair by the standards of the man who gave the world Madonna’s pointy-cone bra as daywear and has made a career out of showing skin.

Still, just because the collection had embraced middle age _ and covered up _ doesn’t mean it was resigned to being sexless. Models peeled off layer after layer as they walked, removing their gloves, tossing their scarves into the crowd and shrugging off trompe l’oeil trenchcoats that mimicked men’s pinstriped suits and even a tuxedo to reveal ’70s-inspired jumpsuits in eyepopping prints shot with glinting Lurex.

The action was lost on many in the audience, though, because the house didn’t install the raised runway that usually afords the whole crowd a good head-to-toe view. This season, the models walked on floor-level, reducing the show to a parade of the oversized gray beehive wigs for all but those in the front row.

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