The alarm shrieked a mere fours hours after it was set, and a shuddering venti Starbucks later I felt no better but was on my way back to Paris. Back? Why don't I just move there and be done with it?!
We could talk about the couture but I think there have already been far too many backseat drivers for this season. It seems now you only go to shows to be seen or be fabulous - I saw one lady in odd shoes - admittedly different shades of green but one high, one kitten heel. Really? I would go for the cherry on head look instead. It's a shame that, more and more, the clothes (on the runway) get eclipsed behind the politics and ridiculous outfits. Honestly if I were you why not just view the clothes online without the hyperbole and assault course of air-kisses.
In a nutshell the season's been an average episode of Dynasty. There have been highs and lows - there has been midnight magic with Chanel recreating Place Vendome, Valli has emerged as Prince Charming - the haute couture new comer - and, while I tried to curl on the Eurostar and ignore the hyper hen party in my carriage, there was what was heralded a knock-out at the new era at Valentino.
By the time I got to Paris Huffington Post UK was live, my first column for Net-a-Porter had launched, and Jean Paul Gaultier was conducting his latest couture presentation. I arrived at my hotel the same time as some grungy pop band - no, I still don't know 'who' - and crikey that was the time - lunch was a forgotten Snickers bar found melted in my bag. Sacrilege in the gastro capital of the world mais C'est La Vie...
For Net-a-Porter I am imagining a 'life in the day of' an inspiring icon - and started with Cleopatra. Much easier when there is a good few centuries between you and your subject. Plus I liked her style, this was a monarch who ruled so supreme she either killed or married her siblings to bend the line of succession to suit and - she was female after all - managed to spend 10 million on a dinner to win a bet with Mark Anthony (she dissolved one of her priceless pearls in a cup of vinegar and served him the goblet). When I think of icon I think Marchesa Casati, Greta Garbo, Coco Chanel... today our icons all end up somewhat flawed once we have finished with them - the modern media over exposing any blemish in their character.
In a life before, extra-marital affairs were not reported, unless dramatized by Shakespeare, misdemeanors were kept behind closed doors, and mobile phones were not hacked for tabloid gain. The same is true of fashion. I remember Jean Paul Gaultier freaking out at the idea of my entourage of backstage photographers. When I tried to calm the Gallic delight we struck upon a bizarre compromise - next time I was getting ready for a party he would come over and snap pictures and ask inane questions at the most inconvenient times while I tried to get ready. No, hang on. That's a nightmare. But, no, that's what we've got. Now the shows are online before the old school writer has found a cab and got back to a hotel to file, and you see every minute filmed live before your eyes. Seasons can blur into one and you almost have to forgive the flakey young fashion types that want what they see NOW - how very Veruca Salt.
One lady who has kept the mystery without compromising any of her influence is Anna Wintour.
Last night in Paris she was presented by Mr. Sarkozy with the Chevalier Legion d'honneur and then had a little cocktail soiree to toast it at the American Embassy. I felt totally like Audrey Hepburn - albeit blonde - in Sabrina as I swooshed past the mint and gilt rooms and out into the back rooms where Gershwin tinkled on the piano and the windows opened to the gardens. Sarah Burton of McQueen, Erdem, Pat McGrath, Karl Lagerfeld, Amanda Harlech, Andre Leon Talley - no I know I didn't deserve to be there but I was - all mingled between the canapés and champagne as Ms. Wintour charmed the room, her Chevalier pinned to her sequined Chanel Couture.
As I watched it struck me that here was our top fashion hero, and real life icon. Vogue is a brand and institution that defines fashion, and under her editorship has discovered and nurtured the new, stayed faithful to those the magazine believes in and inspires me to not give up on fashion. Even in our internet age where everyone can wear a silly hat or be a critic, Vogue leads where others follow. Even cooler than that - Anna Wintour told me she was going to the Harry Potter premiere in London. I nearly fell off my Manolos. Expelliarmus. No, honestly, Ms. Wintour said she was very excited. So, even though I had to text my friend that there was alas no Ferrero Rocher at the Embassy (have they not seen this ad?), I floated up the Faubourg St Honore imagining the lead American in Paris giving Voldemort a piece of her fashion savvy.