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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Haidee Findlay-Levin reports...

Today I (almost) took a day out from the shows and found myself consumed instead with a photo shoot. I camped out at the Hotel Crillon, where every few hours a beautiful "new face" would drop by and escape her exhausting show and fitting schedule. We saw Karlie (who had a Gucci exclusive in Milan), Dasha (who I later spotted posing at Veronique Leroy's gorgeous installation at the Petit Palais), Behati (a totally adorable fellow South African who I hadn't had the pleasure of working with before) and Masha, fresh off the cover of the new Numero. I must admit it was hard to jump back into looking at fall clothes after being mesmerized by all things spring for the last few days.

I barely made it to Haider Ackermann at the end of the day, but was happy to see his elegant collection. Lots of dulled lamé dressing—gown coats, double-layered negligee dresses, pyjama pants—and the palest gray caftan that was the color of 90's supermodel Kristen McMenamy's hair, who walked the Givenchy show last night. Both beautiful.

Veronique Leroy was next on the agenda and I was delighted not to have missed one of the most underrated designers in Paris—or anywhere, for that matter. One stylist commented that she would have been a great replacement for Phoebe Philo at Chloé. With her talent, femininity and healthy dose of irony, it could have been a wonderful collaboration. She all but owns the jumpsuit, has been reviving aspects of the 80s practically since 1990 and this season managed to make hotpants with suspenders in yellow terrycloth! She was the first to show us sky-high platforms and this season, in black or white, they got an inch or two higher. No wonder the show was an installation.

Last stop: Yves Saint Laurent. It was running incredibly late, which gave me time to catch up with Gene Crell from Japanese and Korean Vogue. Gene is the best person to pass the time with, but be sure you have plenty of it! He is a marvelous historian and storyteller. We were soon joined by Bill Cunningham of the New York Times, so I was immediately taken on a journey through fashion history. Bill was the only person to identify the rectangular shoulder pads of my new Margiela jacket and he wasted no time in giving me the history of Thierry Mugler's tailoring techniques. I wouldn't dare guess Bill's age, but Gene, 62 and a surf buddy of Stefano Pilati, admitted his jacket "was from the Eisenhower era" and he didn't even call it vintage. I just love that.

You know you've arrived when you (or Stefano Pilati, that is) show at the spectacular Grand Palais, and judging by the crowd (everyone from Catherine Deneuve to Courtney Love, Hussein Chalayan to Dita von Teese), Pilati certainly has. Hopefully his ego doesn't become as inflated as the enormous light balloons that illuminated the space—a sure sign that he was taking a classic Parisian label and moving it further into the 21st century.

The clothes were beautifully cut and quite spare, at least compared to his earliest outings for YSL. There was nothing superfluous. All neutral colors, other than a splash of purple or mauve, which came with the most incredible metallic pink shoes. And no prints, save for a splash of metallic stars on a single white dress. He spliced graphic tailoring with mirrored tops and details that seemed very Paco Rabanne. Wide, slightly cropped and belted trousers felt very YSL, especially suspended above stilettos almost as high as those balloons. They could require some lessons in walking, as well as some serious reflexology when they come off.

Oh, that reminds of the rejuvenating massage I have scheduled for later at the fantastic new Andrée Putman-designed Anne Fontaine Spa. Just the idea of being horizontal is relaxing me already.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin