Well, for you fashion fans, like me, it’s that time of year again. The high fashion, ‘haute couture’ shows in Paris, which are becoming fewer and fewer and rarer and rarer. Ten or more years ago, haute couture week (twice a year) in Paris was a 7 to l0 day event, with 3 to 5 shows a day, and it was a BIG deal for people who love fashion. The shows were absolutely fabulous, with about 75 looks shown, each one on a model, a whole outfit, with jewelry, shoes, accessories, make up, hair, hats. It was breathtaking, and the shows cost millions to put on. But in its day, haute couture week was a week long event, chock a block with the most beautiful clothes you’ve ever seen. Ever!!! And to qualify as ‘haute couture’, every single garment must be hand stitched, there can’t be a machine made stitch on the piece. Intricate beading, sequins, and embroidery were commonplace and magnificently done, all hand done!!! And all of it was worn by about 40 of the most spectacular models in the world. Unforgettable, all of it.
Fast forward to today, and it is a two day affair, with very few shows, and the only remaining design houses from those days of grandeur still in operation are Givenchy, Dior, Chanel, and Gauthier. Givenchy opted to have a ‘presentation’ this year on their premises and not a full fashion show. The houses are dwindling, the audiences smaller, the art form nearly lost, which for those of us who saw it in its days of glory, is a real loss. I used to take my daughters with me when they were 6 and 8 and l0 years old, and now they’re thrilled they saw it then. There’s no telling how much longer haute couture will last. Probably not long, sadly.
So today was one of the two magical days, the fashion shows are in January and July for haute couture, and in January they show summer clothes, and in July, they show winter clothes. The shows were originally set up for clients to check out the clothes and order what they wanted to wear the following season. The price of haute couture has basically dwindled their client base to nothing, and the fashion shows are filled with press, publicity people, fashion journalists, fashion fans, and very few clients. And about 300 photographers from around the world cover the event. It has the kind of hoopla going on outside much like a movie premiere, as celebrities and guests press their way into whatever building the show is held in. Chanel is the only haute couture show I still go to (and there are several young, newer designers who show on those days, but I am a diehard loyal to the traditional designers, so now I’m down to just going to Chanel.) Two of my daughters who work in fashion, Victoria and Vanessa, went with me. Samantha, who also works in fashion and often comes with me, couldn’t make it. Victoria wore a fabulous gray Balenciaga jacket, Vanessa wore vintage Yves Saint Laurent, and I wore a Chanel jacket, to show the flag for the house, so to speak. I try to wear something by the designer whose show I’m seeing. And the shows take place in Paris of course, still mecca of the fashion world.
And what a show it was. Some shows are more exciting than others. Some are all about the spectacle, others only about the clothes. And in this show, the clothes were just spectacular, paid homage to the beauty and grandeur of high fashion, and were still wearable in our modern world (if you can afford them. with everything hand made to order, the prices are out in the stratosphere somewhere. And the Chanel jacket I was wearing was ready to wear, not haute couture).
There was lots of pale pink, lots of black and white which is typical Chanel, sequined leggings, incredible minute beading work, gauzy gowns on beautiful young models. It was the most beautiful and wearable haute couture collection I’ve seen in years. My daughters and I were drooling it was so beautiful. And if I had a fairy godmother, she could have given me at least l0 outfits of what I saw today. Wow!!! Sitting next to me was an adorable looking l0 year old girl, it was the first show her mother had taken her to, and it reminded me of my own daughters at that age, not so long ago. At the haute couture shows, the models walk down the runway right in front of you, about two feet away. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous show!!!!
And worth noting is the incredible designer who designs Chanel, ready to wear, haute couture, 6 ready to wear collections a year (he also designs for Fendi, I believe, or some other fashion house, and has a side activity of beautiful photography). The genius behind it all is Karl Lagerfeld, who is turning 80 years old, is a wellspring of energy and creativity, youthful, vital, powerful, talented, a genius of our time. Just coming up with 6 ready to wear collections and 2 haute couture ones every year is beyond incredible, along with designing for another house. His talent is breath taking, and the clothes that drift past you down the runway on beautiful young girls can’t help but make you dream. Just being there makes you feel like Cinderella for a few minutes….(last summer I fell in love with an intricately embroidered coat that was embroidered to look like a Chinese coromandel screen; totally Incredible, and truly a work of art).
I am so grateful that a tiny piece of this magical fashion world still exists. It’s still a treat to see it every time. And of course celebrities come to attend the shows. Kirsten Dunst, the actress was sitting across from me, and there were others throughout the audience. And next month will be the ready to wear fashion week in Paris which is wild and busy and wonderful and fun, filled with stars and celebrities, showing clothes people can actually afford. I usually attend those shows with my daughter Samantha, which is a thrill for me……and today was a tribute to the haute couture shows of years past, and a piece of fashion history. It was beautiful!!! Love, Danielle