I didn’t know what was happening with the weather here in Paris: it was sweaty one day, and freezing the next. (Conveniently, on the freezing night, there was a Fendi party. So my girlfriends had already borrowed fur coats and I didn’t need to lend mine to anyone. Being a gentleman is tough work!) But while the weather was rather unpredictable, the haute couture fashion week was expectedly divine.
On the scale of divinity, the highlight of the trip was the dinner that Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti hosted in honor of Anna Wintour at Wideville, the designer’s chateau outside Paris. I have been to Wideville a couple of times, but one never gets tired of the glitz, the glamour, or the old world romance of one of the world’s most marvelous designers. Cocktails on a terrace, sunset walks through the rose garden, dinner in a converted barn, and dancing in a one-night-only discothèque. Actually, it’s a normal night out for Val and Giancarlo.
But, of course, this week the focus was the shows. Some people lament the dwindling presence of fashion shows on the haute couture schedule. But perhaps that is because they are scared that if more and more designers drop out of the haute couture schedule, the day may come when we won’t have this extra reason to come to Paris twice a year. I enjoy the lazier schedule because it gives one time to breathe, or rather inhale the excellence of couture. For example, Naomi Campbell opening the haute couture shows with her infamous trot in the first look at the Versace show was just the punch one needs to be reminded of the importance of high fashion. Later that night, Naomi joined a dinner at Azzedine Alaia’s house, where the designer cooked a three-course meal in honor of Christian Lacroix’s appointment at the house of Schiaparelli. That was a nice reminder too.
And what of the other shows? I was partial to the knitted eveningwear, an interesting paradox that Raf Simons did at Dior, and I heard none other than Jennifer Lawrence, who had flown in for the show, saying the same. Giambattista Valli did a fabulous white lace passage that looked like a garden in a cloud of heaven. Valentino looked to insects for the first half of their presentation, and then exterminated them with bedazzled glamour. And Karl Lagerfeld sent Erin Wasson out in a tiered wedding dress that made my eyes melt in a dilapidated theater he had built in the Grand Palais.
I haven’t had a Fourth of July celebration in about seven years since the couture shows always fall on the American holiday. But, luckily, this year I wasn’t alone: I welcomed Fourth of July with some fellow Americans in Paris – Karlie, two Traina sisters and the divine Alex Wang – at Chez Julien.
On the night before the Chanel couture show, Bazaar’s editor-in-chief, Glenda Bailey, and myself stopped in at Karl’s studio, where he showed us a picture he had taken of Erin wearing nothing but the boots from the couture show. Not that they were just any boots: he called them stir-up shoes because they were anchored to a belt so that the soft, comfortable leather wouldn’t slouch. That moment reminded me of why I loved the couture shows so much: Not just because I had an audience with the Kaiser, but also because it reminded me that at a couture show, the most impressive details are the ones that you can’t see.
Captions, from top: My spot at the head of a table at Valentino’s dinner for Anna Wintour, which was just a little intimidating; Baz Luhrmann leading Karlie Kloss down the stairs and into the rose garden at Wideville; Valentino in his garden; Emma Roberts and Mena Suvari at Versace; me and Azzedine Alaia, a fashion legend; Riccardo Tisci at Wideville; Karl at work; Naomi on the Versace runway; Milla and Catherine Baba; me and the host with the most, Giancarlo Giammetti; Erden and Christopher Kane, two English designers who came down to Paris; The best actress at the Cannes Film Festival, Lea Seydoux, and Christian Louboutin; Naomi at the Versace party; Baz and I; Nicky Hilton at the Valentino show; Vera Wang snapping me; Tatiana Santo Domingo and Eugenie Niarchos at the Valentino fete; Giancarlo with Natalia and Franca; Erin Wasson’s bridal dress at Chanel; Lizzy, Elizabeth, Alexia and Harry in the backseat; Three Missoni’s: Margherita, pregnant with her first son, and her grandmother Rosita, who founded the family dynasty; Bianca Brandolini and I have a laugh at the launch of Eugenie’s jewelry collection; Giambattista Valli flanked by Eugenie and Noor Fares; my friends Mattia and Jessica Diehl; Alexa at Chanel; Rose McGowan at the Fendi dinner; Kristina O’Neill and Carine Roitfeld at the Chanel show; the view walking into the Dior show; Hanne Gaby leading the pack at Giambattista’s show; Bianca and Giamba; me and Hamish having a nightcap at the Meurice Hotel bar; the divine Lady Amanda Harlech in Karl’s studio; the view of Wideville; Chez Julien’s tribute to the Fourth of July: A vintage issue of French Playboy; my fellow Americans in Paris: Karlie, Nessie, Alex and Toto.