Prête-Moi Paris

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The mer-women of Basil Soda

Couture fashion week in Paris brought me to the Palais de Tokyo for the show of Basilsoda… where the spectators were plunged into what seemed like an undersea world of luxury. The models rippled out onto the catwalk like waves of sea foam in light sea-side pastels that flowed and sparkled under the lights. ♬ « Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat, wouldn’t you think my collections complete… wouldn’t you think I’m the girl, the girl who has everything! » ♫ That’s what anyone owning one of these dresses could say…er, sing.

The designer, from Beirut, has an obvious love for the female contours because each long gown accentuated the hour-glass form, low cut lace-lined neck-lines, open backs ornate to the very edge… and the gowns finished into a an A-line bell at the ankles. There were a few pant-ensembles and some short dresses as well. But the most astonishing aspect is his colossal attention to detail. Intricate embroidery, piping that you cannot believe!, lace, crystals, folds and pleats and layer upon layer of embellishment, all gave an organic liveliness to each and every garment.

I wanted to gasp at every one as they appear on the catwalk. Sashaying like sultry mermaid angels… in  such sumptuous silks and chiffons that you could just die to feel them on your skin (the fabrics, mind you).

Mal Aimée pas mal reçu

Mal Aimée a brand by Léonie Hostettler and Marius Borgeaud who met at design university in Geneva had their first Paris presentation at the recent Paris Fashion Week, on October 4th. Hosted at the luxury palace hotel Le Crillon, the label occupied a chandelier ornamented room on the ground floor. I was glad to see Jean Paul Cauvin present, and visiting the smaller lesser known brands in his search for the 21st century’s silhouette.


Marius Borgeaud and Léonie Hostettler (picture from Kevin Tachman of


Mal Aimée served up a spread of garments with an emphasis on texture and lines, with color as a side dish. Sheer rayons, raw-weaved or embroidered wools, thicker silk pieces with elaborate stitching,beading and a mixture of different materials in single pieces was the texture palette. The lines wear a combination of body-lengthening shapes, a twist on the holed knees, elaborate pant cuffs, broad shoulders and coat tails for starters. Sweet pastels and faded denim along with fitted waistlines bring out a lot of femininity in this already lady-like line.


Mal Aimée, SS2011



Mal Aimée SS201





I personally loved the elaborate folds on the shoulders, the tight overlay-stitching, the silk pants and the  leotard shirts. There’s a sophisticated 70’s-80’s feel to the line without pushing towards the obnoxious aspect of that era. It’s strong yet feminine.

The pair of designers worked for a couple years with Olivier Theyskens at the fashion house of Nina Ricci, before being left to fend for themselves after his departure from the label. Not without gumption the two launched their own label. This SS2011 line is the fruit of a year’s worth of constant work to create a name for themselves. They are doing it well with a sumptuous presentation at one of the most frequented spots in Paris during Fashion week. Best of luck to these two young designers and we can’t wait to see the fall-winter line!


Fashion Week Paris – a feeding frenzy for fanatics

Fashion week in Paris for Prête-à-porter SS2011 collections crawled in with a meow on September 28th and exited like a prancing stallion on October 6th, 2010; and in-between was the eat-or-be-eaten insanity that surrounds everything fashion. I was lucky enough to be able to attend several fashion shows, but generally steered clear of the big high profile défilés, for fear I might be trampled in the stampeding herd of fans and photographers.

But I did break out and attempt one show in particular for I love his creations and crazy passionate flair, John Galliano. It was fun, and funny, but mostly was a glimpse into what a frantic world it is the world of fashion design.

In front of the Théâtre Comique, where the show was held, there was a pressing crowd frothing at the mouth to get in. Non-ticket holders scanned the entrance looking for a furtive way in, and stared down those lucky attendees who were let in, with envious eyes. Everyone wondering who everyone else is, and if you are important enough to observe, photograph or be jealous of. And the mob pushes closer and closer towards the door while the guards and security fight every inch. « Back-down! Back-away or we’ll just start pushing! » they shouted at these famished fashionistas. Who knew frail women in spike heals could have such stamina! They were waiting for two hours outside of the theater with only a slip of a hope of gaining entry.

And then there are the fans who go dressed up in order to be photographed and don’t even try to push their way in the door. They prance around out front, break barely a smile and pose for everyone with a camera in the vicinity.

Some people claim that outside of the runway shows is often more fascinating than inside!

And the real sharks wait by the back stage door. And as every black rented car arrives, they whistle and holler « this is gonna be a big one! » They get in position, brace themselves and raise their weapon of choice (a big fat Canon with a gigantic zoom lens), and click like mad as soon and the door opens. There is a strange music of camera noises and shouts of the celebrity’s name that raised like a tidal wave and then dies down rapidly as soon as they are out of sight. And the photographers and fans are left panting with baited breath for the next « big one » to appear. Models exit the building and land in this sea of piranhas like lost deer with big wide eyes and left over sequins in their hair as they search the crowd for their driver. And these people all feed off of each other like gremlins. Without the frenzy and buzz of the press, the models have no exposure, and without practically attacking doe-like creatures the fashion press has less material and little glamor. They are as opposite as oil and water, but make a most delicious stew, especially when you add a little Galliano flavoring, par exemple!

Vivement le prochain fashion week!

Zucca SS2011 – ça coule de source –

The inspiration was as bright as the filmed images projected on the wall at the end of the show : running water.

And the collection reminded me of the 19th century painting by Ingres : La Source


La Source : 1820-1856, by Ingres


Zucca a line by Tokyo born designer Akira Onozuka was launched in 1988. Well known for his work-wear designs, the funtionality of his clothing with an emphasis on design and the simplicity in his work. All of this was present at his show at the Couvent des Cordeliers in Paris’ 6th arrondissement on Monday October 4th 2010.



The coolness of the hydro-themed line was expressed in the dark colors : charcoal blacks, sky-white, deep navy and cobalt blues. The sweetness of water is expressed in the delicate materials : sheer silks and cotons, soft flowing cotons, light knit-wear… and a water-like movement was shown in the shapes and forms : pleats, draping, runching, and ample folding that fit to and fall down the sillhouette with grace. Also seen were some layered silks, and a couple sequined pieces… of course to touch upon that shiny aspect of water!
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What I like about this collection is the aparant comfort and wear-ability mixed with a lovely feminine style. The knee-length skirts, soft flexible textures and several belted yet comfortable-looking waistlines are attractive, subdued and pretty. Très japonais.


The lace edging gives kist the tiniest hint of girlish « coquetterie », while the pleats, folds and draping sculpt the feminine form in subtle ways, and gently bring out the grace of lady-like forms.

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Don’t let the japanese subtlety fool you, there is a wealth of creativity in this artist who designs a men’s line in addition to his women’s (a few men’s items were shown in this Paris show), watches, and he also designs accessories.


Tim Van Steenbergen – à la fleur ou à la peau

Tim Van Steenbergen says he’s inspired by the lady gardener in her flower garden at her luxury countryside weekend home with « her boyfriend’s sweater loosely knotted around her waist. » Well I find Steenbergen’s collection inspired me to want to lounge in dark brown leather sofa with dry Manhattan clinking the ice cubes in a heavy crystal glass stained red on the rim from a dainty touch of lipstick, while my ‘boyfriend’ (in France we’d say amant) in the next room taps away at his poetic odes to my beauty and charm on an old type writer while his cigarette smokes curls around his fingers… and then we go out for a Sunday afternoon drive in our 1931 Bugatti, perhaps off to play a double set of tennis… But I digress!

Tim Van Steenbergen SS2011 Paris

Tim Van Steenbergen SS2011 Paris

Tim Van Steenbergen SS2011 Paris

Tim Van Steenbergen SS2011 Paris

Set on Sunday at noon, at the Bataclan, a well known and well frequented Parisian night club and music venue, Tim Van Steenbergen let out his lady gardeners one by one to face the cameras. The sensibility in each piece shows a gracious range of textures and an inherent lightness to their wearing. Lovely folded leathers gleam dully with a comfortable appeal, bright, silky turquoise and bold colored headbands contrasted with the bright red lipstick on the models, airy feather accessories and a little fur add a soft touch, mousseline pieces wafted behind the models like a sweet perfume that one detects as she walks by. Prints and smooth colors like tobacco, gray, greens and beige, crêpe wool, linens all draped on this lady, this muse of flowers and luxury. Sometimes the floral aspect could almost be seen directly in the clothing itself, through amply layered folds and fancy hats with tufts of what could be thoguht of as fauna. Maybe she’s just smelling the flowers and not actually digging in the dirt this SS2011 Steenbergen woman. I imagine she has a gardener to do the planting.

Estrella Archs – prima ballerina’s not prima donas!

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

Estrella Archs, recently emancipated over the past year from directing someone else’s line, is putting all her energy into her own line, and has found a theme for that Spanish passion that drives her : the « liberation of movement » : la danse! Oh libre she is, and is enjoying her freedom in bold pink and better choices for collaboration. Gone are the Lindsey Lohan days of disappointment.

Dancers, real ballerinas, not models took to the catwalk for her show in Paris this afternoon, and the didn’t walk, they danced. Her new line for Spring and Summer 2011, in pinks of all shades, has two very vivid influences to it : Flamenco and ballet. The former expressing force and passion, the latter defining the grace and precision of the line. From barely-there pink to blinding fuchsia in fluid silk crêpes, silk gauze, semi-soft suede to one seamed dresses that created a swirling spiral of feminine beauty and movement.

Italian born Mara Galeazzi the star of Archs’ publicity campaign, is a principal dancer for the Royal Ballet. She and twelve other dancers from the Royal Ballet donned the pink frocks and pranced choreography by Alastair Mariott under the spotlight in heel-less Vicente Rey high heels. They did more than model the line, they gave it life.

Estrella Archs

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

After the show I hung around to snap a few shots of the dancers and the designer

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

Estrella Archs isthe 4th from the left in a bright pink top and  black skirt.

Me & Mara Galeazzi

Mara told me that she was « so nervous » before the show started. Maybe it was the shoes, maybe it was the fear of the flashing cameras (which ballerinas are not used to), maybe it was the pressure of having only ONE show that lasts a mere 15 minutes. But nervous or not, she shined (or glowed pink) like the graceful dancer she is. Mara is no stranger to the fashion runway though, she did the Jenny Packham Collection in February 2004.

Thank you Mara! You were gorgeous in the show!

Estrella Archs SS2011 Paris

The dancers mastered these shoes like no runway model could ever do. It takes well trained muscles and years of point shoes to be able to do this kind of catwalking!

Shoes by Vicente Rey… OMG! Gorgeous!

A stunning show and a beautifully feminine line…

I was ecstatic to see ballerinas take on fashion week.

Bravo Estrella for thinking outside of the catwalk!

Carlos Miele and Vogue Italia Parisian Party – Oh Honey!

Italy brought the heat to Paris last night! I trotted off hier to the Carlos Miele and Vogue Italia Party at 380 rue Saint Honoré in the 1st arrondissement. The event was to celebrate a collaboration by Lapo Elkann and Bianca Brandolini. The fruit of the collaboration? A limited edition  t-shirt to benefit the Rainforest Foundation US. Conscientious fashion… love it!

In a packed swanky boutique, fashion people, bloggers, photographers, designers and models brushed shoulders, as a DJ spun tunes and Carlos Miele’s new SS2011 collection hung smartly on racks on the fringe of the crowd.

Bianca Brandolin

Bianca Brandolin

Lapo Elkann

Carlos Miele (left)

Oozing and schmoozing with air-kisses and hugs, the crowd bee-lined for the bar to grab a lime or strawberry caipirinha, servers passed around  other rum drinks and little hors d’oeuvres and fruit speared on plastic toothpicks. I was worried that those gowns might see a few strawberry stains by the end of the evening. Aie aie aie!

Carlos Miele 380 rue Saint Honoré 75001 Paris

Rosana Paris & Giseli Francine

In between taking snapshots of the fashionable crowd as it kept pouring into the boutique I met blogger/writer Alice Pfeiffer who was lovely in roses, Blogger Peyton Sandler, and London based designer Ada Zanditon who was sporting her own label (click on photos for links). Not sure how they imagined they would fit all these people in, but it was a fabulous place to be while the rain drizzled down outside.

Melissa Ladd & Peyton Sandler

Alice Pfeiffer

Ada Zanditon

For more on the soirée go to Patrick McMullen’s site.

A color called Manish – La couleur Manish

Manish Arora PFW SS2011

Manish Arora

Manish Arora Thursday afternoon was all about sparkle, bright color and his usual flair.

From last Marcha t the Lycée Henri IV to the Salle Wagram where there was space to move around and pack in a hoard of guests, Manish put on a show indeed. Ruffles, Swarovski crystals, gold, fabulous shoes, shapes, Indian art accents, neon yellow tights and even a flashing colored top all set to live music, it was more than lively.

But bold and happy color was the star, as usual.

Manish Arora PFW SS2011

Manish Arora

Models came out from behind a live band playing a fascinating twist on some 70’s rock cover tunes, on a runway of light. Crystals and gold accents brought your attention to the lavish garments as the lengthy colored legs drew the eye down towards fabulous look-at-me shoes. Garments had plenty of movement, and accessories were lots and lots of deep sparkling bracelets.

Dubbed « India’s John Galliano » Manish certainly shines.

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