Dior. Saint Laurent. Stella. Chanel. Alaia. McQueen. A week in Paris with a glimpse into these incomparable design houses is every girls dream. My wonderful friends at LVMH and the Artemis group allowed for this girls imagination to run wild (and to take a few friends and colleagues along for the ride!). I started my week at the Dior show at the Rodin museum. It was a Midsummer nights dream. It looked as if all the flowers in the whole country were draped from the scaffolding above the show. Raf Simons, the designer who stepped into Galliano’s giant, if personally flawed shadow, attempted to make his own mark on the House of Dior. The show was divided into two segments with the first showcasing new silhouettes and the latter the more traditional Dior designs with a Simons twist. Although, I appreciated the first part, the second was my personal preference as it was full of fanciful yet wearable pieces for a mother of three.
After a weekend in Champagne we were back on the circuit with Stella McCartney’s morning show at the Paris Opera House, which was the most impressive space of the four shows I attended. The show felt all the more grand when Sir Paul McCartney entered. Stella’s show had a very French boudoir feel with dresses looking quite like summer negliges and, of course, her pantsuits done in all different variations. Navy seemed to be her staple color and there were quite a few pieces I could imagine in my closet for spring (as long as I step up my excercise regime!)
From there we went to visit Mme Chanel’s apartment and Karl Lagerfield’s private fitting rooms. Though I have seen Chanel’s apartment before, I am always amazed with the space and can feel the presence of this revolutionary fashion icon as we sit on her giant quilted couch, which served as the inspiration for her famous bags. Karl, it is said, often visits Chanel’s apartment, which is left exactly as it was on the day she died in January 1971. The Art Deco mirrors that line the walls on the circular staircase are one of my favorite parts of the place, as I immediately picture Coco sitting on the stairs watching the models try on her clothes below.
That evening, I went to Saint Laurent at the Grand Palais. If you ever go to a show at the Grand Palais, it can be very difficult to find which entrance to use! Fear not! Follow Selma Hayak and Lenny Kravitz and you will surly find your way! The space was hot, small and quite crowded. The amazing light show combined the fierce, sexy film noir pieces designed by Hedi Slimane heightened the sensation of angst. Long legs and short skirts were the theme for the evening and though the models looked painfully serious in their ensembles, it didn’t take much to imagine a few pieces could be perfect for a beautiful spring evening in Greenwich (I might have to let the hemline down just a little!).
Tuesday October 1st we started the day by going to the opening of the Alaia retrospective at the Palais Galliera. I have been crazy about Alaia since my parents first moved to Paris and I went to his discreet little shop in the Marais. This was in 2004, when Alaia was only working for his most beloved private clients and was barley showing. To find an amazing Alaia piece was like finding the golden egg. Of course we followed the retrospective with a visit to his shop where we found a few golden eggs!
The finale was Alexandre McQueen at the Garde Republicaine and what a finale it was! Carina, my partner at the Greenwich International Film Festival, and I were stuck traversing from the left to the right bank in a cab in standstill traffic. After deciding to “renounce flats” for our last night in Paris we were forced to run about one mile in giant heels (hers were Alaia). We arrived at the show 20minutes late but thankfully so did everyone else. Sarah Burton delivered an unbelievable show that was everything you would imagine a Paris fashion show to be. The models wore gold helmets and the outfits were elaborate African inspired costumes. It was quite apparent that Sarah is just as much a visionary as McQueen was, and I can imagine he would have been thrilled with the direction she has taken his legacy.
Whether you are in fashion, film, finance, philanthropy or the arts, fashion week in Paris is truly inspiring! ~Wendy Stapleton Reyes