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More NY Autumn 2003 photos -
  Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta and more!

The loveliest couture season in recent memory came between two Paris snow storms. So journalists and clients didn't have to pull out their galoshes-Manolo Blahnik remained the shoe designer of choice at all the show venues, with Jimmy Choo following closely behind. Froth in the form of tulle, appliquéd with large flowers (or in some cases, anti war slogans or as in the case of Fred Sathal, anti giant corporation logos) quivered down the runway.

The evening gowns, whether appliquéd with flowers as in Chanel or Lacroix, embellished with mother of pearl, as in Torrente or Fred Sathal, or emblazoned with traffic signs or emblems of peace, as in on aura tout vu, served to inform as well as inspire.

The clever and adorable Smart car, designed with thousands of Lalique crystals by that indefatigable and ever inspired team, on aura tout vu, showed up outside all the major fashion venues, reminding us that couture is ethereal and well-a bit impractical.

I recommend the venerable Hotel Meurice as the place to go for lunch during the shows. The people there are adorable and want to make your visit pleasant (quelle surprise!) The Hotel Bristol's bar is also a good place to grab a quick (though elegant) bite. I must also recommend Monteverdi, my own rendezvous spot in the sixth. Mariah Carey had been there just the night before with her posse, and apparently she came late and stayed till morning. Mr. Monteverdi asks you where you want to sit---by the fireplace or by the piano. If you go, say "By the fireplace!" This is truly a wonderfully simple though sophisticated spot, with Frank Sinatra tapes in the background and good Italian food.

We met Italian designer Giovanni Bedin, who is now producing for the old House of Worth, a beautiful collection of high end corsets that will be sold in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus this fall. With prices in the $900 range, we hope these corsets, which are among the most beautiful we have ever seen, will also do the job corsets used to do---make us look better!

It was January in Paris, and that meant that all the amazing sales (soldes) were going full speed ahead. Parisians were definitely in the stores, in the restaurants and on the streets. They were talking about the children who made snowmen in the seventh arrondissement, never dreaming that more snow soon lay ahead of them! In the delicate though wedged soled high heel sandals that were turning up on so many runways, it might be tricky to trudge through the snow or hail a cab. But that is the nature of the couture and of its clients, who must be the first to have the latest, and then to bear all difficulty that so often accompanies beauty.