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Paris Fashion Week Unzipped

Seven days, twelve designers - a voyeur’s diary

(page 4 of 4)

Andrew Gn’s little black dresses

All that, and the clothes are actually wearable. Quite the tightrope walker, that Hussein Chalayan. I’m watching fashion history, but the days are starting to take their toll. My throat is sore, and a nice, long bath sounds more appealing than the dinner I have planned with some fashion friends this evening.

STELLA MCCARTNEY Stella’s invitation is a connect-the-dots game card that spells her name and a pen that writes in six different colors, junior-high style. Already you’re having fun, which is good because the show is at 10 a.m. I’m all for roughing it on the Métro, but my energy level has downshifted, and I decide taxis are my new best friend. The taxis fail to materialize, however, and I hobble down the Métro stairs once more in my Chloé platforms—the ones with the black patent leather top and the wood sole—my heart racing when I realize how late I am. Of course, everyone else is late, too (Vogue Paris sponsored a party at the Hotel de Crillon the night before), and I wind up arriving just on time.

Because there are some celebrities at this show (Jessica Biel, Lily Allen), it is a mess to exit, and we are all held up on the stairs. It’s a good time to get a close-up look at people’s handbags—something I love to do on the street—to guess if they’re real or fake. This is not a very fun game to play at Paris Fashion Week.

CHANEL It is almost too hokey and Bridget Jones for words, but I do of course fall going into the show at Chanel. All of this running on cobblestones in heels—it was bound to happen sooner or later. A Cravates Rouges hands me the lost Chloé platform, his lips making an “o” shape. Little fashion victim.
By the time I’m dusted off, it’s too late to climb down to my seat. So I stand in the back row, up in the stratosphere. Lagerfeld has built a big, puffy balloon of a tulle cloud in the Grand Palais that drops snowflake confetti at the end of the show. Fashionistas will fall for the Aspen-like feel of the clothes; there’s a cheerfulness to the collection that gives my Midwestern heart a lift.

CHLOE There’s a new man in town at Chloé, Paulo Melim Andersson, and I hear before the show starts that fans of Phoebe Philo, the former head of design, might be disappointed. Sure enough, Andersson is hardening things up. Meanwhile, the audience is sitting there melting. This is the first day that feels like spring, and the show happens to be held in a clear tent in the Tuileries garden. (“I wanted to mimic the light and white space we have in our studio,” says the designer.) The tent feels like a hothouse. I can’t keep my Wayfarers from slipping down my nose. (Yes, sunglasses indoors actually do make sense in this context, but I draw the line after that.) Anna Wintour does not seem troubled at all; she merely lowers her jacket to her shoulders.

MARTIN GRANT I sit watching Martin Grant, he of the excellent press reviews and the cult Parisian status, and think of how fabulous his pretty cocktail dresses and tailored coats would look at any big-city function. When we get there, the sweet press woman, Maud, puts Stacey and me in the front row. Our feet are on Style.com the next day.

After the show, some friends and I head to the Hôtel Costes for replenishment. I’m asked what I thought of the collection, and I’m so bushed all I can say is “Pretty, so pretty.”

LOUIS VUITTON Editors tend to wear edgy combinations of black in dramatic volumes. They sometimes look like highwaymen or as if they’re dressed for a Victorian duel, all streaming fabric as they swoop onto an escalator or into a cab.  From a sartorial standpoint, I’ve made it through the week just fine in a chic gray Marni coat (half off) and my beaten-up buttery brown Gerard Darel bag. Underneath is usually the same black dress every day, but who would know? Your coat is your calling card.

Vuitton is my last show of the week, but what a show! Scarlett Johansson! Kylie Minogue! That girl who is the daughter of Gérard Depardieu! Me in the dress I’ve been wearing all week!

ANDREW GN Now that the week is over, Stacey and I spend a few days visiting studios around Paris for “re-see” appointments, where we look closely at some of our favorite collections and check in on the designers whose shows we had to miss, like Andrew Gn.

The show room is fairly quiet, and buyers are getting down to the business of determining what purchases they’ll make for their stores. Stacey and I go from one garment to the next, staggered by the feathers on the collar, the beading, and general construction of each piece. We look at a coat with a collar of little black fabric balls. “Andrew calls it velvet caviar,” says his press person.

Andrew, in a black T-shirt and chinos, says hello to us. And then we’re off to Martin Grant for another look at those pretty dresses.


Photography by Elisabeth Fourmont, Monica Feudi for Yohji Yamamoto, Cassi Bryn Michalik


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