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Eric Nicholson Reports From Paris

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Eric Nicholson Reports From Paris

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12:30 pm / Valentino

After nearly a week of shooting two fashion stories in Miami with photographer Philip Gay, I set off for Paris Fashion Week. Before I get to that, though, let's talk about swim, considering it will be here well before fall begins! Our bathing suit story for June is loosely inspired by the 1970s images of Brazilian artist Alair Gomes, quite a thrill, and a nod to all of you athletes out there. The second story, as we work on two issues at once‹ tentatively called "Summer Nights" involved a yacht, eight models, lots of champagne, the beach at night, and a minor scooter accident- Oops! Sound like a party? For more details, you've got to check out the spread in our July issue. You can browse the photographer's previous works at www.philipgay.com.

After leaving sunny South Beach, I arrive at Paris's famous Louvre to witness the collection of one of the great masters: Mr. Valentino, as editors refer to him, out of fondness and respect. One nugget of gossip circulates: after 45 years in the business, he may retire after his Couture show in July. While the Valentino camp denies the rumor, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

I spot Molly Sims in the front row, she’s looking youthful as ever- about 23- good for her! Escorted by Carlos de Souza of Valentino, she smiles for the photographers, whose cameras are like a thousand fireflies swarming in the darkened theater.

Valentino’s fall collection (like most, actually) is inspired by the glamour of the 80's and '40's- think “Dalma-meets-Lauren Bacall” for 2007. Red lips, shiny, wavy hair, driving gloves and patent accessories top off the looks. The lacquered illusion on the runway is shattered by a sudden PETA protest. Several woman jump from the crowd and throw off their coats - their naked bodies exposed. I am a little disoriented: the spectacle seems so much more South Beach than Sacre La Coure! Security pins them down and the show goes on.

1:30 Costume National
Designer Ennio Capasa's collection has great coats with masculine tailoring - all with a military belt in army green and gray. On the flip side are awkward satin dresses with tricky straps. A mixed bag of fashion. 2:30 Dries Van Noten
I start to think, “When am I ever going to have lunch? Why am I not jet lagged this trip?” But, soon after, I am distracted by Dries. He is cutting-edge in his artistry and for anyone who has ever wondered what the difference is between seeing the collections in Paris versus New York, it's drama. Need only see Van Noten in action to instantly realize this. This season he has put the backstage onstage. A scrim separates the audience from all the action - makeup, hair, dressing (more undressing), three girls sit on the ground together and share an iPod, and it¹s all there for us to watch while we wait. It’s fascinating to see the precision and the surprising calm, assertive energy of his process. There are no hijinx like when Isaac Mizrahi put his backstage on display (documented brilliantly in "Unzipped"). Dries mixes Eastern influences - paisleys, loose sari-like dresses, and continued the sportive influence, this time with nylon-quilted pieces.**Mini Trend Alert**quilting is popping up in Paris! The colors are rich, with saffrons and purples, and are accented by (love 'em or hate 'em) granny wedges in patent leather - which is the biggest news in accessories - across the board. 3:30 Christian Lacroix
"It's La-Kwwaaa, darling" Most people, including myself, still can't help it ¬ the reference from BBC’s “Ab-Fab”, a satire on the fashion community, permanently attaches itself to the designer. The clothes are still over-the-top frou-frou, this season paired with punkish motorcycle boots and tough belts. 5:30 pm Sophia Kokosalaki
Some designers subscribe to reinventing the wheel each season, while others continue to perfect and rework their signature. Kokosalaki keeps finding innovative ways to explore the drapes, pleats and pin tucks of her garments -- notably dresses, which this season have a certain origami influence. In the mix were Mongolian lamb vests and coats with beading, which will be a hit with the chic, scene-stealing party girls that Kokosalaki designs for. 8:30pm Hussein Chalayan
Back at the Lotti Hotel, I'm about to jump in the shower when I get a phone call - "There's an extra ticket to Hussein Chalayan. Do you want to go?" Hell yeah!Our style director, Cleo Glyde and I arrive too early, however. (It’s called fashionably late for a reason). The rehearsal is still going on so we go to the local bar for a drink. It definitely has a neighborhood feel, especially when we have to move our table so that the man who lives upstairs can access the door to his apartment.
During the Hussein pre-party of martinis, Cleo runs into a friend from Australia. They crack up laughing, and the whole scene makes me want to go visit Sydney very soon. (Upcoming fashion shoot, perhaps?) The show opens with a musician playing a xylophone in complete darkness. Suddenly, the end of the runway explodes into a swirling tornado and the first few models walk out with a dress, which glows in the dark - it has its own battery pack! Images of the earth are imposed on the dress, the topic of our environment and global warming is a major statement here. Chalayan shows coats inspired by Samurai armor followed by a series of brocade dresses which have serious wearability potential. The show-stoppers, however, are mechanical clothes that transform. My favorite? Easy: a coat with a hood that with the push of a button closes over the wearer's face! Protecting yourself from the elements has never been so much like a video game. The future, it seems, is in Paris.
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