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Haute Couture: Moving On, Glancing Back

  • June 19th, 2008
  • Posted by 7thmin

inesvu0.jpgA coincidence of events this month has seen France paying its respects to its most-valued of industries, and trade marks…

The names made the parade: Yves St Laurent had died, Carla Bruni, his model (and wife of the President, Nicolas Sarkozy), paid tribute; Ines de la Fressange (picture), much associated with Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel, was presented with the Legion d’Honneur, and a major exhibition was got up in Paris to honour the retirement of one, Valentino.

The memorial service to Yves St Laurent (5.6.08, in Paris) was part state occasion and part red-carpet for the stars.

Generations of actors and models were on hand; Catherine Deneuve delivered a eulogy; Ms Bruni, President husband at her side, was among dozens of elegant women in trouser suits – signature of the designer from his 1980s heyday.

Mr St Laurent died of cancer at 71; he’d been a leader in the fashion world during a time of his country’s pre-eminence in that field, for forty years, until he retired in 2002.

The next week (beginning 9.6.08) Ines de la Fressange was pinned with the highest honour of the French Republic.

It was a Legion d’Honneur earned for style, and for the contribution to national wealth that would go with it.

Now 50, an outstanding model best known for her association with the designer Lagerfeld, Ms de la Fressange’s early penchant for mixing modes, casual with the not-so-casual, (jeans and tweed jacket), has kept her in touch with present-day habits.

Her counsel: Be open-minded about new labels.

“You have to mix genres now,” she told The Times last week.

“If you’re wearing an army-surplus coat, put it with ballet shoes, not heavy boots …”

On going to be invested:

“I don’t know; I think I will have to wear a jacket.

“You know if you have been in the fashion industry a long time like me, that you don’t need a lot of clothes; just the good things”. (BBC)

Those wanting a real-life glimpse of the world of haute couture, thriving as it has been, are invited this Summer to the exhibition for Valentino, at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, in Paris.

Considered the “plus francais des couturiers italiens” (most French of Italian designer), he has retired at 75.

At times he would dress Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Sharon Stone and Cameron Diaz.

On show in the exhibition, (107, rue de Rivoli, Paris 1; 17.6-21.9.08): a selection from the first Valentino presentation in 1962, and from the famous 1968 all-white collection, and a little black dress worn on-screen by Monica Vitti (“La Notte”).

FOOTNOTE: Amid the Parisian lustre, on the other side of town, more or less, another cultural battle was continuing. Fadela Amara, France’s Secretary of State for Urban Policy, was visiting places in the banlieu, talking to mothers and unemployed youth about intentions of the government to help change things in the distressed, mostly migrant areas of the cities. The Minister, highly placed among Arab people in France, admitted to troubles getting together representatives of several government Ministries, to advance an assistance program focused on jobs.

Lisa Armstrong, “Ines de la Fressange: Lagerfeld’s muse will get a Legion d’Honneur …”, Timesonline, 11.6.08. …, (19.6.08)

Steven Erlanger, “Muslim Minister tackles French suburbs”, IHT, Paris, 14-15.6.08, p 1.

Florence Evin, “Le dernier bal de Valentino”, (Last party for Valentino), Le Monde, Paris, 17.6.08, p 22.

Ines de la Fressange, interview, BBC World Service radio, (16.6.08).


Ines de la Fressange,, (19.6.08)