Tony Glenville, Pigeons & Peacocks favourite and London College of Fashion Creative Consultant, reviews this year’s couture showcase and gives a personal account of his Parisian adventures.
The day after I returned from Paris, as I walked in to do a lecture with first year fashion journalism students, a voice asked “How was couture?” Well, it was amazing, hideous, exhausting, exhilarating, gorgeous, graceful and ghastly.
The beauty of Valentino took your breath away and being in the room was a privilege; Ulyana Seergenko was in one of the most beautiful rooms possible and the clothes were horrid; Schiaparelli was divine, and I got to see it the day after in the salon – totally magical; Ralph & Russo continue to throw clothes on the catwalk with no apparent regard for a running order and many look like reproductions of vintage. My ticket for Yiqing Yin arrived the evening after the show – fortunately I did know I was invited but anyway the previous show ran so late I just hurtled through the doors of the Ecole du Medicine with the rest of the journos and stood. Oh and by the way, it was worth it. I love her soft yet strong, wrapped and layered looks and this was even better than last season – totally worth running down the road from the press bus. I thought Bertrand Guyon was doing a wonderful job at Schiaparelli, which only increased when I had the privilege to go the salons in the Place Vendome and see the clothes close up and handle them on the day after the show. I think Alexandre Vauthier produces the best sexy couture of anyone now in a high voltage show with stunning clothes, I thought Valentino was too magical to photograph and just took some really bad short clips to try to catch the moment. I watched Amanda Lear lip synch to her own music as Blood or Honey came on the soundtrack at Jean-Paul Gaultier and saw a model made to look like the young Farida salute Farida herself in the front row, and the theme of Le Palace nightclub made me realise how lucky I was to have spent so many nights there in the past seeing Tina Turner, Sylvester, \divine and others and dancing the night away whilst Guy de Cuevas djayed and sets designed by Garouste and Bonetti ( later to design the salons at Christian Lacroix) flew on and off the stage. So you see, it’s a rollercoaster of good and bad.
I was front row at some shows, and not invited to others, and enthralled at some shows and watching the time at others, and sketched anything to keep the boredom at bay or tried to capture something in my book but failed because it was so lovely. I Instagrammed and Facebooked as often as I could and read everything I could in between so as to compare viewpoints and, as ever, realised creative work generally produces a ‘love or hate’ response – neutral is not the common response to a show. I worried about my wardrobe as I did look of the day egged on by David Downton. I marvelled at how many people come to the collections, be it couture or ready to wear and who stick to the same big names and never explore the newer names, or watch a designer grow, I wonder why some people remain aloof and don’t chat to people and often the find out “stuff” I sat next to a stylist, a client, and a model agency manager and found out interesting information from all of them, and as ever made new contacts.
I went to the 50 Years of Ungaro party and the launch of a new fragrance and ended up at the restaurant La Belle Epoque and then more drinks and rolled to bed at three o’clock in the morning. I did eight shows back to back and didn’t see a sip of water or a crisp to eat. I went to see the Jacques Doucet Exhibition at the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and for the first and possibly last time in my life found myself in a space with a Modigliani, a Manet and a Brancusi! I saw Richard Haines’s lovely and charming exhibition in the rue Saint Honore and I went to the Musee de la Mode at the Galliera for the Comtesse de Greffuhle Exhibition and was enchanted and moved and went round twice and wondered why this labour of love could never be replicated in London. The reverse of V &A blockbuster, this was purely about a tiny moment with impeccable conservation notes, superb display and a magical atmosphere – something I will remember all my life.
And I stayed once again at the Hotel Costes where I am so happy and where I feel at home in spite of the fact some people hate it, the staff are madly Parisian and the décor is like a Second Empire bordello, and the lighting is so dim it’s a joke.
And then I came home and in July I do it all again, how lucky am I?
Words: Tony Glenville
Bespoke Illustrations: Megan Ruth St Clair Morgan