haute couture spring summer 07

Valentino and Vanity
By Timothy Hagy, Paris Editor | Photographed by Yannis Vlamos

January 22, 2007 - It's really a shame that Agatha Christie never chose a Paris couture show as backdrop for a murder mystery, because it probably would have outsold the Da Vinci Code. It's safe to say there is no love loss between the movers and the shakers of the fashion world, which tends to be, after all, one big vanity spread. The Valentino show, staged Monday evening at Salle Melpolmène of the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, was less remarkable for the pristine clothes in the spotlight than for the contentious circle of guests on the sidelines.

There was not a stitch of blood-red signature Valentino to be found - on the runway at least - but instead transparent white and ivory silk, satin, chiffon and tulle, embroidered, pleated and draped: the collection was the quintessence of elegance, as soft and pure as the new fallen snow.

Looks, however, can be deceiving.

Valentino, according to press reports, went scarlet last year at the Oscars when he couldn't find a single "big" star to wear his clothes on the red carpet. You might imagine his indignation this season at the fact Armani got an RSVP from Katie Holme, the spouse of recycled bridegroom Tom Cruise, an icon whose sexual identity remains as obscure as his dalliance with the Church of Scientology.

As for editors, there's Anna Wintour, who can't possibly be happy that "The Devil Wears Prada" has far outsold the January Vogue issue, and even less happy that her profitable American branch of Condé-Nast is used to prop up the ever red-inked French Vogue, a publication complete with its own Euro-chic haired Rédatricé-en-chef.

Grayson Carter, Vanity Fair's Editor-in-chief, has been celebrating since he stole Michael Roberts from the New Yorker, a transplant that has had the fashion industry's collective teeth chattering. He's throwing a gala f'te in Paris this week to honor both Richards and CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg, to which most employees of Condé-Nast have been disinvited.

Then there's NY Times Editor Cathy Horyn, irritated that WWD keeps reminding readers of the fact that she often confuses fact with opinion, or so says a growing list of disgruntled designers taking umbridge at her caustic reviews.

If there ever was a murder, it would be all but impossible to come up with a short list of knife-welding suspects.

Perhaps none of that much matters to those who revel in the limelight, or as a certain Princess is want to say when approached by journalists looking for a quote: "Fabulous, darling. Fabulous".


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