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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paris Kick Off

Thinking about starting a new blog on style, travel and fashion, what better way is there than to start in Paris? With Paris Haute Couture January 2012?  Somehow I found myself with an invitation to attend Haute Couture week with my great friend and fashion mentor, Cameron Silver.  Cameron is founder and co-owner of Decades, and he could be one of the best style risk takers I know, but also a sweetheart who never says a sour word about anyone - and believe me, I've tried to pull it out of him!  Cameron goes to both Couture shows during the year, and Lord knows why, this trip he let me tag along.  Note: if you ever have your first virgin Couture experience like I did, I completely recommend going with Cameron.  There was never a dull moment as we shopped the great shops of Paris, visited the beautiful Couture shows, dined with interesting and beautiful Parisiens and hit the party scene in full regalia.  Come along and enjoy the ride.  I promise your feet won't hurt as badly as mine did!

Arrived at the George V Four Seasons Hotel.  This is a great hotel in the heart of Paris, but I will warn you that NOTHING is inexpensive here.  I stayed here for the ease of getting around and for the fantastic people watching.  Next time, I'll save the money for more couture!

First Stop:  Versace.
Donatella Versace has not produced a Couture show for 8 years, so this was a special moment for Paris.  Not your typical fashion show, this was more of an event - or showing as they call it.  Held at the École Des Beaux-Arts de Paris, models came one by one from the top of a stair-cased stage in strong metallic gowns as opera played to intensify the setting.  Shy to get too close or take too many photos, I actually just stood there mouth agape as I watched these extra-terrestrials come one by one in almost slow motion to the front of the stage and find their spot on the stairs.  It was as if I had stumbled onto the landing of a space ship containing very tall, speechless creatures in the most stunning and sparkling dresses of metal, beads and plastic.

Break: Shopping.
We headed straight for the Louboutin shoe boutique for a little pursuing of goods.  The Paris boutiques hold a bigger selection from the collection than we get in the States.  Plus, there is a men's side that is full of Louboutin sneakers, lace-ups and loafers. Cameron collected 3 pair of a beautiful assortment, one of which I thought even my husband would wear!

It's just not shopping unless you go to a furrier.  And Paris' Yves Salomon on Rue Saint-Honoré is definitely the place to go.  You must go to the website and read the history of this place - it truly does read like a Dostoyevsky novel. And the sales people are great and very helpful.  Not to mention that everything was on sale!  I walked out of there with a beautiful cropped, short-sleeved mink jacket and a fun cropped jacket of raton-laveur...raccoon.  I'm Southern, after all, and what decent Southern lady doesn't have a raccoon jacket?

2nd Show: Alexis Mabille.
Shown at the beautiful and Napoleonic-old Shangri-La Hotel, this was more my idea of what a couture show would be like.  Rooms of tall ceilings, chandeliers and gold chairs backdropped lines of models in brightly colored dresses, suits and gowns.  Obviously inspired by colorful flowers of spring, the show opened with a bright fuchsia satin dress and atop a huge fuchsia flower hat, not to be outdone by the fuchsia-painted face of a beautiful model.  Colors continued to abound in red, orange, coral, mint, turquoise, purple, blue and finally gold metallic.  I was transfixed on the color, as I am not one to shy away from color in dressing.  Most Southern ladies like a little color - it was only until I moved to New York in my 20s that I began to think that black was the only way to go.  At least I came to my senses and have embraced color in the wardrobe for years now.  I left this show wanting to see more.  And wanting to see those clothes close up.  And wanting to meet Alexis Mabille!

3rd Show: Dior
History.  Father of the Haute Couture House of Dior, Christian Dior created the infamous New Look in Paris in 1947.  His silhouette of small waist and large circle skirt captured the hearts of the world and still goes on today.  The actual headquarters for M. Dior at 30 Avenue Montaigne is still base camp, and where we attended this very special show.  Again, rooms, this time filled with silver chairs, created a model maze for walking and showing this collection.  Coming off of Galliano's exit from Dior, Bill Gaytten seemed to be proving himself as the new Dior designer by perfecting the craft of Dior.  The show opened with a white organza dress with wide sleeves and black, floral embroidered skirt.  You had me at organza.  Again, Southern girls love them some organza.  Especially while walking around to the music of Lana Del Ray's haunting song, Video Games.  Download it now!

This show proved to be quite controversial for me.  I was perplexed by the absoluteness of the New Look as the collection.  It was as if we had time traveled to the House of Dior to see Dior's New Look collection of 1947, but with sheer fabrics that Superman doesn't even need to use his vision on.  Beauty and grace galore.  But innovation?  I'm just not sure.  And, we Southerners love a nod to our heritage at all times.  I can't imagine not using my old sterling silver at a dinner party, but not sure if I'd want to serve the ever 1950s popular hot cheese puffs and Swedish meatballs.  And separating the sauce from the meatballs does not make it modern.

The collection was stunning in that Dior kind of way.  And I was mesmerized by sitting in the House of Dior alone.  And I was hungry for lunch.  Or food of any kind.  Perhaps Gaytten will surprise everyone next year after proving himself this year to be the master of the Dior craft?

Final show of the Day: Giambattista Valli

Suffice it to say that I love G. Valli.  The Ready to Wear is always girlie and flirty with lots of ruffles and bows.  The Couture show remained true to the female aesthetic.
Cameron and I at the Valli show - from, showing Cameron's  Alexis Mabille runway look.  I'm wearing my new fur and Agate Geode slice necklace by Amber Erin Jewelry.

The show opened with a white coat with no sleeves, rather flowers where in place of where there might be sleeves.  Sort of like a really fancy straight jacket.  There were lots of pencil skirted suits with floral appliqués and a few beautiful shiny crocodile pieces that were lovely.  But all in all, I found it to be a pretty safe show.  Though pretty could be the key word there...

Except of course with the final gown.  Cameron and I were sitting in the very first seats on the front row as the models walked out, and I got very close to this gown.  A bold and large print of purple and fuchsia (there's that color again!) flowers made up the strapless bodice and gigantic puffy skirt with long train.  She could barely get out the door!  It was striking and it was breath-taking, but I knew that I certainly don't want to be wearing that dress as I try to make my way up the intimidating stairs that lead up to the Met Museum's Party of the Year.  I'd have to be air-lifted in.

First day completed.  I saw so much that I was beginning to blur everything together.  Plus I had the knowledge that we had to get up and do it all over again the next day! So off to eat and try to rest my weary feet in preparation for Day 2 of Couture Week...