Gentle reader,

The Haute Couture shows in Paris came hot on the heels of Paris Men’s Week and everyone in the fashion world is now talking about the new face of couture.  Since a single couture ensemble usually runs upwards of a hundred thousand dollars, I’m not really sure what impact that will have on most of us but I think a lot of it has to do with the evolution of couture cornerstone Christian Dior‘s aesthetic now that their new hotshot designer Raf Simons is finally in place.

I must admit that the Dior show was quite a moment in fashion as the Belgian designer made his distinct mark at the iconic house yet stayed true to its heritage but, in the end, I didn’t really like the clothes.  Sorry.  I’ve noticed that other observers, in the midst of their gushing praise, have fixated on the different colored flowers that covered the walls of each of the rooms where the show took place and I believe that’s rather telling.

Aside from that, if you’re feeling a bit spendy and didn’t catch the other shows, let me give you a quick overview:

Valentino Couture

Valentino

Valentino was more modern than the last couple of seasons with lots of lovely dark blue, but the best gowns were those with floral details based on William Morris’ “Tree of Life” pattern.  The pink and gold looks were quite lovely, as well, and I like the sheer plissé gowns but Gucci did those better in ready-to-wear.  Why spend ninety grand when you can get it for nine and you don’t have to go for fittings?

The signature bouclé was big at Chanel Haute Couture with dresses, jackets, skirts, gowns and coats all made in it, only this was actually shimmery embroidery on tulle—the couture version of bouclé, I guess.  The silhouettes were mostly so familiar and so demure that it was like a watching a big moving Chanel museum for grannies.

Armani Privé was again disappointing.  After last season’s silly corkscrew hats, the poor girls were veiled up so much you’d think purdah is the cool new thing.  Aside from a glittering pale pink dress, the best looks were the black velvet gowns toward the end that I’m sure we’ll be seeing during awards season if the color continues it’s reign on the red carpet.

And here’s something I’d never thought I’d say: Atelier Versace was my hands-down favorite this season with a collection that was sexy without being trashy.  That balance isn’t typical of Versace but, after this season’s ready-to-wear was a knockout of dark rocker-meets-Jeanne d’Arc glamour, the couture offering is a sea of glittering scarf-print paillette embroidery and billowing pastels that belong on a rather edgy and very rich Barbie.  The hair and makeup was simple and gorgeous Veronica Lake (or Victoria’s Secret) and the show was a blast.

Here’s a slideshow of my picks (more TuttleMode after the jump):

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I know that the haute couture shows ended a few days ago, but I was so wrapped up in finishing this great, long book Outrageous Fortune by my friend Lulu Taylor that it took me a while to get my thoughts together.  It’s such the quintessential trashy novel that I had to drive up to Lake Hollywood Park, lie out on a blanket and pretend that I was on holiday to read it properly.

This is the first of her books that I’ve had the chance to read but Lulu and I go way back to our Oxford days.  Now, you might think that all romance novelists look like big lesbians who wear turbans and too much lipstick and carry white lap dogs in their handbags, but I can tell you that Lulu is absolutely lovely.  I believe the first time we met was at a party in one of Christ Church’s more atmospheric gothic rooms.  All our parties back then had a theme.  This one was “The Seven Deadly Sins” and Lulu was dressed as Lust in a slightly sheer ivory negligee over red lacy undies, which made quite a strong first impression.  I think I went as Pride and, looking back, I was pretty arrogant back then.  We’ve been friends ever since.

Outrageous Fortune’s plot centers around two girls born on the same day, both in London but in very different circumstances.  Beautiful Daisy is fawned upon by her father, the powerful Daddy Dangerfield, and lives a life of wealth and privilege until her world is turned upside down one fateful day.  Poor Chanelle, on the other hand, grows up in a seedy council estate with her drug-addict mother and is met with one disappointment after another until she claws her way up the stripper pole.  Of course, their fates eventually intertwine in a very original way but there is a lot of sex, romance and intrigue before they get there.  Did I mention there’s lots of sex?  That must have something to do with Lulu’s choice of costume back at that Oxford party, but you’d never know it in general conversation with her.

If I’d one complaint, it might be that the first act spends a lot of time in the details of these girls’ surroundings.  Daisy’s every shoe, watch, skirt or gown has a different designer label and life for Chanelle is just one hard knock after another.  On the other hand, that’s probably the very nature of these escapist novels.  Well, you wouldn’t want to escape to a bleak government housing complex in East London where you have to worry about getting raped on the way home from school, but you get my point.  All in all, it’s a fun, well-paced read with great characters and enough realness in the glitz to keep you rooting for your favorite.  I give it two thumbs up and that’s because I only have two thumbs.

You can order the book here.

Much love,

xxJames