Trench Couture

 

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I trucked across the pebbled grounds of Versailles, slipped past the bulk of the security guards, and snapped on my hospital-style All-Access badge and went into the backstage at Dior. To my left was a table of drinks and small food (many grapes, many cheese cubes) and in front of me, the long tables and mirrors of the makeup and hair teams. I saw Pat McGrath in the thick of models and assistants, and the milliner Stephen Jones. John Galliano at the Dior show on July 2. The place was enormous — in keeping, I suppose, with the general expectations of Chez Dior’s 60th anniversary, where the runway and its lavish gray-and-white set ran more than 300 feet through the Orangerie. John Galliano had been in Spain this spring, after the death of his assistant Steven Robinson, and he had been deeply moved, he told me in June, by the ritual of the bullfights and how the matadors prepared themselves before going into the ring. From the way he described meeting one matador, I got the idea he took the whole thing very seriously. He said the bullfighter wanted to know about Kate Moss. Galliano laughed. Then the bullfighter got himself dressed for the ring. There were going to be flamenco dancers at the show, as well as a choir and an orchestra. Galliano said it was in tribute to Robinson. “We’re going to give it up for Steven,” he told me. I went into the next room of the backstage, stopping to speak to Naomi Campbell, whose hair was up in rollers. The supers — Linda, Shalom, Amber, Gisele, Naomi — had their own dressing room, with security guards out front. Galliano’s dressing room was next door. He’d had a matador’s suit made for himself. The dresses were waiting on the rails, and the dressers next to them. I saw Rafael, the premier at Dior, and he told me the last fitting had been at 4 a.m. that day. Rafael hadn’t gone to bed. The dresses were beautiful, all based on different artists’ interpretations of Dior. One of the simplest dresses was in white silk with an open neckline and a swirling rose hand painted in red, as if hastily drawn by René Gruau. But the more lavish dresses, in pale green, Wedgwood blue, gray, violet, scarlet, were also good, and you could usually recognize the style of the artist. I don’t know that this show was as electrifying, as complete, as Galliano’s January couture show, and I don’t think it matters. This was the show he had to do this season. It represents the changes and conditions in Galliano’s life at the time, as each of his shows does. And I think, in the end, that’s the importance of the artists theme. You can say that it’s a surface thing, and that the clothes are costumes, but that seems one dimensional, closing you off to the whole creative process and the progress of a genius. The next morning I went with my driver Bernard Alloux to a park at Saint Cloud for the Chanel show. If my French was any good, I would have said we were a long way from Kansas, Mr. Alloux. The place was misty with rain and then it really began to pour. I crossed a gravel path to the top of some stone steps. Below, illuminated like a space ship, were the white canopies over two parallel garden paths. They were flanked by white cosmos. I went to the backstage and headed immediately for the “traiteur.” I must say the food at Chanel is better than Dior. I grabbed a handful of walnuts and some dried apricots, and then tucked into a fruit cocktail. I was eating when Lagerfeld arrived. He was in a great mood. He is having a party at his home tonight, maybe the last before he moves into his new place. It’s around the corner. In all the years that Lagerfeld has lived in Paris, more than 50, he has had maybe 20 different addresses, but they’ve all been in the 7th. He hasn’t gone far, but, then, neither did Irving Berlin, as E.B. White pointed out. By the time the show started, the audience was pretty moist from the rain. I loved the clothes — the shapes and details realized from the perspective of a woman’s profile. Sometimes this was very obvious, as with a black coat dress with a grid of gold pailletes down the sides and continuing down the suede boots. Or a gorgeous black silk dress with silvery panels and an asymmetrical hem. But some of the best work was in the cut or drape of a dress or coat, like a creamy white gown that Sasha wore with her black lace cap. It looks simple, but of course it’s not. #mce_temp_url#

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