The Couture Diaries: Part II

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Published July 13, 2011

 

DONATELLA VERSACE

 

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

To say that entering a Chanel couture show is like moving into a fairy-tale world is an extreme understatement. Inside the massive Grand Palais, the site of Chanel’s couture show, was a black life-size glittering version of the Place Vendôme with a street as its runway. The front row was dotted with Charlotte Casiraghi, Mario Testino, Elle Fanning, Diane Kruger, Alexa Chung, Poppy Delevigne, Caroline Sieber, Carine Roitfeld, Daphne Guinness, Stefano Tonchi, and more.

The show moved from sparkling suits to long dresses—a fantasy through and through—and then we crashed back to earth. At the end chaos ensued, as hundreds of people tried to leave the show, causing a traffic jam like I had never seen before. I decided to walk before hailing a taxi, and found myself beneath the Eiffel Tower and gently shining moon.The idyllic scene was ruined when it started to pour rain, and I found myself stuck on a highway. Soaking wet, I waited an hour on said highway until I finally found a taxi stop… with 20 people in front of it. Most of my problems in life are taxi-related.

Thank god for the Chanel gift bag (or my 14-year-old stature), because the 20 people in front of me let me cut them, assuming I had somewhere urgent to be—which I did. It was Carlos Mota’s birthday party, and I made it three hours late. I stepped inside the most fantastically decorated apartment in Paris and saw all the Parisian socialites lounging on the sofas and relaxing by the balcony. We all left relatively early because Valentino was at 11 the next morning.

On couture day number three I went to Elie Saab first thing. It was only the most girly, fabulous, and chic gowns.Watching those dresses could make anyone want to become a princess. Mr. Alaïa had very specifically told me I was not to go out the rest of the day because the following day was his show. I would need the strength of a full night’s sleep.

For this, the most anticipated event of collections, 250 people crammed outside the Alaïa boutique waiting to be let in. Luckily I was staying there, so I got to watch Franca Sozzani, Stefano Tonchi, Sofia Coppola, and Donatella Versace queue in anticipation. Once the doors opened, they crowded further, finding their seats in the small white room. Backstage, Pat McGrath was fixing the models’ makeup, as Mr. Alaïa and Carla Sozzani as approved each look.

Once the show began, there was not a person in the room without a smile. It was a collection of the most beautiful fur coats with traditional Alaïa belts and fabulous shapes. The finale was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen: Half the room was brought to tears, and I myself began sobbing. The applause kept going. Alaïa has never come out after a show, but the applause continued on, and getting louder. After 10 minutes, the minister of couture himself ran down the runway and backstage to get him. As soon as Alaia’s face was visible there was an uproar and everyone stood to attention.

Tears streaming, I went backstage to hug Azzedine. No shame at my tears: The entire Alaïa atelier was crying, marveling at what they had each partaken in creating. In my humble opinion, we all had just witnessed history in the making.