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In Paris they take fashion seriously and it shows. I’m also fascinated at how laid-back they are; but that has nothing to do with how they look. Once you have an invitation in hand, the velvet rope parts and I get to see a very focused audience. In this city, it’s all about the big names; getting a decent turn-out for an emerging designer is really hard, at least in the presentations that I’ve seen.
Jetlag is officially my enemy. I’ve had six hours of semi-continual sleep in the past three days. So that means I don’t quite know when to eat and if I’m showing up to the right place at the right time, unless someone literally wakes me and tells me to go. Thanks Angelina! Harryhalim was the first victim of my jetlag, and was then followed by Bless. It’s too early to call me a fashion casualty, but it would be nice to remember the taste of the food that I’m eating. I know I’ve said that Paris is like a dream, but, with jetlag, more so then ever before.
Barbara Bui was my first show at the Pavilion of Alexander III, the French version of the “tent.” There’s only one here. It has a very long runway, the seats are cramped together, it’s hot, everyone’s fanning themselves with the run of show. That said, the space is great for looking and identifying the clothes. Barbara Bui has a boutique in SoHo I’ve fawned over a few times. Her hot rocker chick clothes – the kind a sexy blond on a motorcycle who can stop the shirtless guy in his tracks while he’s fixing a beat up bike in the desert would wear. Barbara is known for her youthful clothes and the show’s sound track was as rebellious as the wardrobe, talking about birth control and powerful women that take charge of their lives.
Rue De Mail has been around for three years according to style.com. We got there a bit early with the lure of Champagne, and had a chance to see the models practice. Finally the bubbly flowed freely and we took our seats to watch carefully pleated chiffon gowns and flowering ruffles literally pop off of dresses. Martine Sitbon, the designer, used peach and cherry blossom in her color pallet. Hanne Gaby closed the show – I can’t help wonder how many shows she’s walked in at this point. Swag seems non-existent in Paris: there was lipstick at Rue De Mail, but nothing more. None of the shows have had any mention of swag. At Calla they encouraged photographers to take pictures of each watercolor look, offering a strange photo-spreadsheet as a souvenir.
Set in what appeared to be a gutted-out cathedral, Anne Demeulemeester’s monochromatic collection sliced through the otherwise-haunting space. I swear I didn’t see a button or zipper on any of these girls – everything was all buckles and ties, binding asymmetrical patches of fabric together to create very overt avant-garde pieces. Miniskirts that turned into pants, blouses that became breastplates; this was urban armor, ready for battle (or, at least, a very intense day reading Kafka and drinking espresso). I imagine that this is what Lady Gaga wears to lounge about her layer: a bit shocking, a bit strange, but ultimately comfortable in its chiffon, leather, and linen glory.
Everyone that works Fashion Week in France looks stunning in a cleaned and pressed suit – sometimes with tails. The picture in the gallery is a spry young lad waving people to Rick Owens. Instead of heading to the show (they were full), we went to the boutique at the Palais Royal to see a wax statue of the designer loom over the gentleman’s section. We found out about Vouge’s 90th Anniversary party because everyone in the Place Vendome all of a sudden seemed to be sporting an opera mask. Heidi Klum decked out in white feathers nimbly ran out of the Ritz. We went to the Hotel Costes to watch older Frenchmen entertain their young (and in some cases, quite young) mistresses.
I’m off to nap, or toss and turn in a very hard bed. Tomorrow there’s Issey Miyake and Dior. How long will I suffer jetlag? I feel robbed. My normal fashion zeal is a minimal roar. It’s just not right. How can I tell my body this is important … focus.