A Valentino paradise in Paris!
If there has been one treat I have been privy to, it’s being invited to the Haute Couture shows in Paris. For those women who don’t care about the frivolous world of fashion, I get it. But for those of us who drool and gasp as each creation wafts down the catwalk, I can think of no greater indulgence. As soon as the stiffest of the stiff Invitations are hand delivered you get a childish excitement in sheer anticipation. This year I was off to see the genius pair Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino with my beautiful daughter Anouska who lives, works and breathes Paris. It is one of our shared guilty pleasures. I had to fly to Orly which was a super pleasant experience as I normally get to Paris via Eurostar. With only my hand luggage and a bag full of late Christmas presents for Noushy, I was in and out of the airport in record time.
I soon arrived at the Valentino HQ – a small slice of paradise in itself – and was whisked off to play with rail upon rail of chiffon, georgette, silk and embroidered delights, all of which you must fit into. This is the only incentive I have to stay somewhat in shape. World Brand Ambassador, Carlos Souza – one of the most handsome and chic men on the planet – has been one of my pin-ups for the last 14 years and he is of course bonkers naughty. We have had so much fun over the years that he seems like family. He is always brutally truthful about what suits you or not, and as I squished my Christmas-bottom into various ensembles, I caught on fast that I was not going to be an exception to this rule! So many bags and shoes, it was like a girl’s dream come true! He chose a beautiful pared-down, nude ensemble for Anouska and I was off again.
My girlfriend, Sara Colombo, was out shopping and finding treasures for her sensational home store in Miami called Nest. She used to live in Paris as a model and so hits the city by foot and is happy finding new little places. She was, however, off-course and ended up in Lanvin on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. This was not a good place for us to meet. I knew it was a dangerous idea and sure enough within 20 minutes the two of us had bought a few goodies each that the genius sales assistant Dorian Mezzasoma had packaged up and snuck our credit cards away for. Just like that. We then headed to a little frou frou French café for tea and macaroons.
I was staying at Anouska’s apartment and so collected all my bits and headed to Le Marais where she lives with her little pooch Gigi. It was so lovely to be treated as a mummy and be made fresh herbal tea and looked after like a guest. Anouska, on the whole, leads a very Parisian-style life and avoids all the obvious fashiony places like the plague, so she had been in charge of booking dinner. A Japanese place called Yen apparently was our destination. I am not a hardcore sushi fan so in all fairness the incredible menu was a bit lost on me, but delicious it definitely was. Sara and I seemed to have got a bit lost with our French translations and ended up with rather gargantuan amounts of tempura but we had a delicious supper and had a few sneaky glasses of sake. Looking at the watch, I decided against joining Anouska’s group and headed on home.
Wandering around the galleries in Paris is one of my favourite hobbies as it helps with fresh ideas for my own Gallery. I took off to find a slip to wear under my divine cream Valentino dress coat which Carlos had instructed me to find and Noushy had work to do. So off I went, only, of course, to get a little lost and then four hours later be in a terrible flap to be ready for the show at 6pm. We emerged from her apartment looking and feeling prepped and ready for some high octane glamour. Our blacked-out car gave the impression we had a car-full but it was just to be the two of us. We arrived to a scrum of photographers all jostling outside the iron gates of Hotel Salomon de Rothschild. The building was just so beautiful and the candles lit the red carpet perfectly. Once inside we were kissed carefully by Carlos and then photos duly followed. Inside the gilded rooms with the most beautifully painted ceilings, we found the real King of Couture, Valentino Garavani himself, flanked as always by the equally suave Giancarlo Giammetti. I was thrilled to see them as we had not seen each other since before Christmas. Just being in their presence makes you stand properly, hold your tummy in and smile slightly more sweetly!
Livia Firth was already on her prized front row seat with Franca Sozzani of Italian Vogue right beside her. British model Tallulah Harlech and Greek-American It girl Eugenie Niarchos were flying the younger generations flag. More interestingly, we were almost diagonally across form the fierce glare of Anna Wintour which was a treat in itself. Hamish Bowles just is fashion… A glamourous Italian Movie star arrived in the new apple green lace for Spring/Summer 2013 and I must say it was fabulous. Natalia Vodianova (the world’s favourite model) snuck in, looking her usual nonchalant chic self in a tapestry inspired evening coat. The show was a hit and even Valentino applauded a few of his favourite dresses. I could go on about how thin and lank the girls were but that’s just how it is. Model of the moment Cara Delevigne was perky and pretty and I marvelled at the lack of calves any of these little creatures have!
We had to wriggle backstage as I was dying to congratulate Maria and Pierpaolo and we did quite a speedy job of it! We left and headed straight for the Plaza Athenee where we were met with a glass of champagne with crushed strawberry. We had an hour to kill before we headed back to Giancarlo’s private after-show dinner. You know never to eat before one of his suppers as the food is sooo naughty and totally unavoidable! Sitting looking over the River Seine view with Suzy Menkes (the other important lady in fashion!) was just heaven. Valentino was in high spirits, as was boy-about-town Derek Blasberg who entertained everyone with his personal Americana wit. Another hard night with the Valentino crew!!