Couture Week 2016: Grazia’s Fashion Director Rebecca Lowthorpe Shares Her Diary

Couture Week 2016 As It Happens

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If you want to know exactly how a fashion director operates at the shows, you need to read Rebecca Lowthorpe’s daily diary from Paris couture week. It’s a Who What (to) Wear situation from Grazia’s new Fashion Director as she tackles fashion’s frontline.

Wednesday 27th January

6.30pm: Valentino

Warning: this will make you swoon. Or at the very least make you think how nice it would be to live a parallel life as a Valentino couture client. Aside from the incredibly beautiful and most supremely crafted dresses in the world at your disposal, you would also have the pick of the best bridal options money can buy. Well, you've got to dream. Isn't that what couture is all about after all? Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli's Valentino show closed Paris' couture week. A perfect fantasy ending. That, as the fairytale goes, is The End.

5.30pm: Ulyana Sergeenko

Have just arrived at Ulyana Sergeenko's masked ball. I put my mask on and then realised no one else had...

4.45pm: Viktor & Rolf

Hello, I'm now in a cubist painting. No wait, it's the Viktor & Rolf show. In fact, it's more of an art class on how to reconstruct cubism in white high tech sponge. I like it. Abstract faces are growing out of dresses and shoulders and completely obscuring faces. It's Picasso meets sports-tech. It's what Viktor and Rolf will look back on as their White Period. Bravo.

3.30pm: Jean Paul Gaultier

jean paul gaultier paris nightclub

This is how the couture marathon which was the Jean Paul Gaultier show ended. Sorry for blurry pic but I'm in a hot sweaty club with 67 couture clubbers all out-fashioning each other on the dance floor. Feel quite underdressed as a result. And in need of a drink. Not to mention a Chinese silk dressing gown and sequinned trouser suit to dance to Grace Jones / Bowie / Talking Heads in. Ah well, thanks Jean Paul for the good vibes a la infamous 1970s/80s Paris club, Palace.

1.10pm: Elie Saab

If you want to see a model lapping up playing the couture bride, look no further than Anna Cleveland at Elie Saab.

11.30am: Louis Vuitton

Nipped into LV HQ to see what Nicolas Ghesquière has in store for us for pre-fall, actually hitting stores in May/June, and I can verify that if you're a NG LV fan, you will find it hard not to be tempted.

10am: Maison Margiela

Bit of a dreary start to the day in Paris outside Hôtel National desInvalides. Thankfully the Maison Margiela 'Artisanal' collection,

designed by John Galliano, was the opposite in its raw, creative chaos. The 'Artisanal' collection is based on the idea that clothes which have already had a life be given a new one. This means anything from vintage scraps to entire ensembles are repatriated to varying degrees; think clothing as collage, from a pinstripe City shirt exploding with ruffles to an inflated kimono, all twisted and coiled around the body. The trick with this whole idea of deconstruction taken to the max is to make it look effortless and fun. Needless to say Mr Galliano was in creative heaven. It's no surprise that so many designers are referencing 1990s Martin Margiela right now, and Galliano just gave them more fodder.

Tuesday 26th January

6pm: Armani from the front row

Dry ice and fairytale gowns. In lilac. Armani's recipe for his Privé (couture) show had some members of the front row in raptures, particularly the Chinese contingent opposite who gasped and clapped throughout. (They looked spectacular in their shimmering sequins). Through the lilac mist came black wigged, Marcel-waved models in iridescent ruffles and pleats as light as clouds. Or dry ice. Dreamy.

5pm: Giorgio Armani Privé

Just the inimitable Charlotte Rampling about to take her seat at Armani Privé. FYI I hope she wins the Oscar. And wears #ArmaniPrivé to pick it up in.

4.30pm: Céline

Taking pictures of the actual clothes is strictly prohibited, so here's the marble floor instead. I would snap the clothes if I could but I'd have to kill you if I did. I'm here to see the Céline pre-fall collection. It is beautiful. Think Phoebe Philo in colour/print/eclectic mode with a post modernist 1970s twist. Or put it this way: oversized tweed jacket meets bright yellow velvet slouchy trousers and fuchsia suede coat. So instead of seeing the clothes, here's the floor, flowers and sofa, all impeccably chosen, I'm sure you'll agree, by fashion's taste-maker Phoebe Philo. Can we just pause to imagine Philo Interiors for a second...

2:30pm: Dior Pre-Fall

Nipped in to see the Dior Pre-Fall at Dior HQ and found some interesting accessories. Specifically the shoes and booties in a kind of cracked glazed leather and the patent flats with diamanté trim. Chic.

1.30pm: Francesca Versace

This is Donatella's niece Francesca Versace who was showing her new bag line off at The Burgundy Hotel. She has designed some super lightweight, glamorous bags - a vanity case, bum bag, little portfolios etc, all priced between £300-1000. They're great and you will want them!

10.30am: Chanel

‘We are in the middle of Norway in a dream house that could be a reality,’ said Karl Lagerfeld of the Chanel couture set, an enormous minimalist cube of a house erected in the middle of the Grand Palais complete with garden and moat. Karl, as ever on the pulse, said his collection was about ecology – ecology and Chanel? ‘I like the idea of taking ecology one step further, to make it high fashion, very elegant, luxurious with beautiful embroideries in wool and straw. Straw? At Chanel? More like spinning gold from straw thanks to the astounding craftsmanship of the Chanel couture atelier that took raffia and plaited, embroidered, frayed and fringed it.

If that sounds clunky it was anything but. See the lightest of all capes worn by Gigi Hadid that flew behind her like fairy dust. Her sister, Bella, wore slimline white embroidered with mini pompoms and her best friend Kendall wore dramatic black. (Please note Karl’s favourite model of the moment who opened and closed as the bomber-jacketed bride, Mica Arganaraz).

Other key pointers, courtesy of Karl: The silhouette was very long and slim because he wanted ‘endless legs’. The colours were soft and pale because, in the 1920s Coco Chanel was known as the Queen of Beige and he thought it would be fun to play with that palette. The hair was twirled into giant rolls because according to Karl, ‘Couture is a total look that starts with the hair and ends with the shoes.’ Talking of the shoes - high cork (ecologically sound) wedges were used because ‘if I put those longer skirts with a classic stiletto it would have looked démodé.’ Why, I asked, is couture more important now to Chanel than it’s ever been? Said Karl: ‘Because there is more money in the world than ever in the past!’ As for who Karl envisages wearing this collection, he said: ‘I never think about it! That’s not my business. I simply propose, I’m not a marketing man.’

Monday 25th January

4:45pm: Dior re-cap


The 'cold shoulder' continues its reign at the Dior couture show.

4.10pm: Back to the hotel

I think I may have the wrong room, as it appears to have turned into a florist's.

2:35pm: Street style spot

2:30pm: Waiting for Dior

Dior couture customers wait outside the Rodin Museum. Nicely colour co-ordinated, natch.

11.35am: The New Normal

The 'New Normal' collection starring Yasmin LeBon, Eva Herzigova, Nadja Aurmann and Stella Tennant. What's so great about Lindbergh's photo is that these women appear makeup free and non airbrushed. How refreshing. Bravo!

11.30am: Giorgio Armani HQ

Mr Armani and Peter Lindbergh photobombed by ADR at Armani's presentation of his 'New Normal' collection. So called, because it's all about real clothes for real grown ups. Ultra classic, elegant Armani. Literally polar opposite to what Anna is wearing here.

Here's me at Armani HQ (Céline trainers still going strong!)

10.30am: Invites

Today's invites plus hotel chocolates (please note: only one missing).

10am: Leopard Print

It's Dior day so I figure I can get away with this leopard print coat.

7.30 am: Morning!

It's only 5 degrees in beautiful Paris. See, I was right to pack three coats!

Sunday 24th January

9pm: Versace

[Jason Lloyd Evans]

Oh, hullo Donatella! I like this new look you’re rocking – shorter bouncier hair and grommet studded cargo pants – fantastico! It’s always a pleasure to watch a Versace couture show because the models look like grown up women, not spindly girls. Cue Gigi, Joan, Lara, Natasha and the rest in clothes that celebrate hips, bums and breasts. Think sequins-meets-diamonds-meets-crystal-cobwebs-meets-sporty. That’s sporty in stilettos, mind. In other words, vintage Versace. In other words: XXX-rated, slashed, slit, sliced… wrapped in ropes, suspended by harnesses… 'Athletic couture’, she called it. If you squint really hard you can see Rita Ora on the front row along with a stellar cast of designers - Anthony Vaccarello, Alexander Wang, Riccardo Tisci. All out in support of Donatella because, well, she’s a legend… Said Donatella: ‘I believe women can be powerful and achieve their dreams while also having a great elegance and beauty. This is a collection for all women who walk their own path.’ Word. As predicted, Gigi Hadid was picked to close this stormer of a show, wearing a cut out black suit adorned with Swarovski ropes.

6pm: The hotel

This is the very lovely hotel I get to stay in for the shows and I don’t mind shamelessly plugging it because the staff are a dream. And everything always works, particularly if you have a hotline to the IT man who has already sorted out my wifi. It’s called the Rennaisance Vendome, a stone’s throw from the Louvre, and I can thoroughly recommend it.

2pm: Coffee, passport

Here is a picture of my coffee and passport. Obviously I’m in need of both. When it comes to coffee I take a very regular flat white. This is a bit ‘normal’ for a fashion director. Most drink Chai Tea Latte / Soy / No Foam / Whipped Air kindathings.

1.30pm: Luggage

Here are my feet at the Eurostar terminal in King’s Cross. My feet are wearing Céline trainers and they are posing on my suitcase to disguise how big it is. Although I don’t believe in travelling light I also don’t believe in being the fashion director with the biggest suitcase on Eurostar. That would be… awkward.

11am: Shoe Packing

Yes, that’s six pairs of shoes. Yes, couture is on for three days. And your point is? I can’t overpack the shoes because I may buy more in Paris. This often happens. Yes, they are all black. But I think you’ll find the shapes are wildly different, from trainer to high-heeled boot. Why so many? Because I factored in all weather (and catwalk) conditions for day and night. I can’t believe I managed to condense the footwear down to SIX pairs! (I have never managed this before).

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