The Couture Diaries

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Published July 11, 2011

Harry Brant brings you the 14-year-old’s guide to Paris couture.

It was just after 9:45 PM on Monday night, the first night of Paris couture week, when I walked into to the Asian restaurant Tong Yen in the 8th arrondissement. I was there with Alexia Niedzielski for avid fashion-follower Claire Courtin-Clarins’s birthday. The occasion filled the room with Claire’s super-chic collection of family and friends, including her older sister and partner-in-crime Virginie, video artist Yi Zhou, and jewelry designer Gaia Repossi. It was a great introduction to the ladies of Couture Week.

I’d arrived in Paris a few days earlier and had been staying at Azzedine Alaïa’s house—not the worst place to be stuck. I liked it so much, in fact, that for the rest of the week you could mostly spot me hanging out at Alaïa headquarters. Sitting in the Alaïa boutique for even one day, you can meet anyone—Beyoncé, Shakira, Michelle Obama, even. On this particular week, most of what I saw involved watching everyone frantically run around as they prepared for the following week’s couture show.

The first day of couture started out with Bouchra Jarrar, whose collection of tailored looks will make even the most ladylike of females want to put on a suit. It ended with me interviewing one of couture’s young masters, Alexis Mabille, about his fantastic show.

Later in the week: there was a lot of nostalgia both prior to and following Dior’s first haute couture show in 15 years without John Galliano at the helm. But while the Dior collection itself was the subject of impossible scrutiny, the models were well-armed with impeccable, dramatic, and eye-centric makeup by Pat McGrath.

Being a New Yorker in Paris, I was constantly frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t hail a cab outside of the Alaïa atelier. Being stubborn, I refused to call one, sure I would eventually prevail. This, of course left me, at midnight, standing on a street corner in the Marais—alone. After an hour, I wrangled a taxi and headed to Caviar Kaspia, the Russian landmark in the 8th, to celebrate Giambattista Valli’s first couture show. When I got there and walked up the narrow wooden stairs, I found all the top girls: my friend Alexia, Shala Monroque, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Margarita Missoni, Tatiana San Domingo, Eugenie Niarchos, and Bianca Brandolini. On the men’s side were Interview‘s “Fast and Louche” society columnist Derek Blasberg and Carlos Mota.

By the late hour I arrived, everyone was leaving. There was only one sane thing for a young man in Paris to do: car ready, we rushed to Le Montana, where you can never be too late.