Before anything else, I want to thank you for your overwhelmingly kind response to my blog entry about my late ex-husband Tom Perkins. I was soooo touched to read your many posts—-141 comments!!! You warmed my heart, and your kindness really touched me. I can’t thank you enough!!!
On a lighter note, it has just been one of the landmark weeks of Paris fashion: what used to be “Haute Couture” week, which is no longer a week, but just 3 days now, with only two of the big fashion houses still doing Haute Couture: Dior and Chanel. Not so long ago, many designers still did Haute Couture: Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Balmain, Balenciaga among the most famous ones. And one by one, they closed their Haute Couture houses, and moved on to ready to wear, which is easier to mass produce, more accessible price wise, and fits better in modern times. But Haute Couture remains almost a lost art today: Haute Couture means that every single stitch on a garment is hand done, there is not a single machine stitch on it. It is incredibly labor intensive, and the price of those clothes reflects it. The clothes in the Haute Couture collections (shown in January and July, always for the next season) are really works of art. Incredibly beautiful, some are for daywear, suits and dresses, and most of the clothes are evening clothes with incredibly intricate beading and embroidery, sequins added by hand, one by one. There are few Haute Couture customers left in the world, because the clothes are so elaborate, and the price for all that labor is so high. But the clothes in those shows are just spectacular!! (and amazing hairdoes and make up to go with them), and jewels and accessories. And there is always a bridal gown at the end of the show, which is even more spectacular!!
There are a number of new, smaller houses that have cropped up, but they don’t have the power and experience, that the older houses do. Also, as a point of interest, it takes 12 years of internship to learn the techniques of haute couture—–as long as it takes to become a doctor!!
I usually go to the Dior and Chanel fashion shows, but only went to Chanel this time, which is always a gorgeous show and it was. They also do beautiful themes and decors for their shows. This time, the show was set in their ‘workshops’, with the real sewers and seamstresses demonstrating how they work, which was fascinating. And then the show began, and one after the other, 50 or 60 beautiful models came out in the clothes, strutting down the runway. It’s magical watching them, and the clothes were beautiful, some skirt suits, some pant suits, and lots of evening clothes. It was held in the Grand Palais, a glass domed antique structure for major events, and the bride was in pink this time!!
The audience is almost as fascinating as the clothes, press, movie stars, celebrities, people obsessed with fashion, and potential clients, all sitting on benches in mini bleachers, watching the clothes intently. I saw one little girl, watching with rapt attention and wide eyes as my own daughters used to (and now 3 of them work in fashion).
And most impressive of all, the collection is designed by Karl Lagerfeld, an 84 year old designer, a true genius of fashion, who has the energy of men half his age. He designs Chanel’s ready to wear too, Fendi, and his own label. He is tireless in his inspiration and constantly fresh vision. I am ALWAYS vastly impressed by his talent and energy. It was an absolutely beautiful show, yet again!!
The days of “Couture Week” are filled with special events. I went to a party the night before the show, at a spectacular home on the Left Bank, an 18th century house, and the night of the show, I went to a restaurant that had once been a home. Beautifully decorated with antiques, with astoundingly delicious food, served in private rooms, I was with a small dinner party, and the meal and surroundings were exquisite.
Haute Couture is a magical thing, and a dying art. I feel privileged every time I see it. It is absolutely an art form, with skilled, talented craftsmen making it, directed by a brilliantly talented designer. For anyone who loves fashion, what a remarkable treat and feast for the eye. It is always a thrill to see it!! And I thought that this collection was one of Mr. Lagerfeld’s best!!!
Have a great week,