notes from a fashion director

Amy Larocca’s Paris Fashion Dispatch, Day Five

From left: Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga.
From left: Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. Photo: Imaxtree

9:45 a.m. Let me just say this: If my unborn child and I are going to go down, it’s not going to be because 45 paparazzi are desperate to get a picture of Rachel Zoe. I start my day with some mad surge of adrenaline that convinced me to grab, push, and shout at a man probably a whole foot taller than me as he shoved me backwards towards a moving bus in an effort to get a picture of the family Zoe.

10:00 a.m. The reason there are so many people at the Stella McCartney show is because so many people like to wear Stella McCartney. She just has this unbelievable knack for knowing exactly what a huge range of women are going to want at any given moment, and for delivering it beautifully. The clothes always look easy to wear, flattering, comfortable but also cool and put together and with it. Today there are plisse dresses, sheer whites, signature suits, and a few fantastic prints. It’s one of those moments when it feels like Stella just can’t be stopped.

11:15 a.m. The Roger Vivier presentation is in a beautiful building on the Boulevard St. Germain and inside it all smells like basil. The new focus of the collection, which is designed by the adorable Bruno Frisoni with help from Ines de la Fressange, is a prism shape, which is broken up on sandals, flats, and evening clutches. My favorite pair is in a soft, mossy green suede, but maybe that’s because they go so well with the smell of the air.

12:30 p.m. Maiyet is a three-year-old label sold at Barneys that has an incredibly wonderful mission of social responsibility. It was started by a South African human rights lawyer, and I’m incredibly glad to see them going strong. This season, they were inspired by Peru and the Maison de Tokyo is decorated with archival photographs of that country provided by Mario Testino’s Peruvian charity. As for the clothes: My favorite is a printed shirt dress cinched with a wide leather belt.

3 p.m. At the Hermès re-see, it’s hard not to just keep touching all of that beautiful leather.

5 p.m. Tod’s has the best locations: Villa Necchi in Milan, and now the Italian embassy in Paris, with it’s football-sized lawn in the back. The temptation to pull a chair beneath a tree and just sit, for a while, drinking lemonade, is profound. They are showing their “signature” collection, which is bright and poppy. My favorite moment is when all of the models, in head-to-toe Tod’s, slip outside for a cigarette and stand there in a knot, clutching their shiny Tod’s bags.

6 p.m. Some things I learned during the Balenciaga re-see:
- It took the atelier 400 tries to get the ruffles on the runway skirts exactly right.
- Those ruffles are finished with an eyelash fringe — the black slightly longer than the beige underlayer to provide just the right degree of softness.
- The burnout dresses began in Switzerland as a specific and rare kind of lace. Ghesquière then burned that lace from behind and brought it to Italy, where it was colored with an intense process known as pigment induction. Next stop: Germany, where there’s an eyelet expert. Final stop: Paris, for careful assembly in the atelier.
- The pieces that look a bit like barbed wire are treated duck feathers.

And so on. There are many reasons why Ghesquière is arguably the best designer alive, and I am once again astounded by the degree of work, the synthesis of the house’s heritage (those ruffles), and then completely unafraid way in which he takes on modernity, and how utterly original the results are, while remaining beautiful, flattering, wearable.

And by the way: The jewelry is even better close up.

7:45 p.m. On my way into the Grand Palais I see seven policeman wrestle a handcuffed man in camouflage pants into a police truck just feet from the entrance to Saint Laurent.

8 p.m. Hedi Slimane’s big debut at Saint Laurent. It is so hot and so crowded and so dark inside. Also: silent. So much anticipation! So few seats. I am on the edge of a bench, the enormous standing section is crushing in from behind and spilling down the aisles. Across the runway Kate Moss and her husband are giggling and holding hands. Marc Jacobs is here, and so is Alber Elbaz, and Vivienne Westwood, and Alexander Wang. Salma Hayek has her hair in an enormous bouffant. The lights go down, the ceiling starts to move, and an enormous sound system is lowered. It’s all very exciting, if uncomfortable. As for the clothes: a nod to all the YSL signatures — safari dresses with lace-up plackets, silk blouses with enormous pussy bows. But then it was like the whole thing went to a rock festival: hats with big, wide, floppy brims and suede jackets with fringe. 

See the complete collections:
Stella McCartney
Saint Laurent