FASHION / INSIDE OUT : Behold the Stiletto-Wearing Mob


Robert Altman may have exaggerated the peccadilloes of the fashion press corps for the sake of humor in "Ready to Wear." But observed en masse (the International Herald Tribune counts about 2,000), they are, uh, a breed apart. Like the Big City Fashion Editor who leaped to her feet in a standing ovation for the Misunderstood Genius's fall collection. Would the Washington press corps, we wondered, be so moved by a State of the Union address? Or the shop-till-you-drop contingent that takes advantage of all the discounts (up to 30% off) extended to fashion journalists by assorted design houses. Then there is the limo set. Certainly the best perk of all is having a car and driver to take one's stylish, stiletto-wearing self to and from the 88 shows. Traffic on the boulevard Rochechouart came to a standstill Friday, though, as cars ferrying press and buyers choked the half-mile or so between the John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier shows.

We felt pretty smug, striding lickety-split past the gridlock. It didn't last long. Minutes turned into nearly an hour as we waited on a hard bench for the prima donna contingent to arrive.

Fertility Rites: Bald models, multi-pierced models, gender-neutral models, has-been and prepubescent models. Ho-hum. What's next? Expectant models--with tattooed tummies. Known for cultivating diversity on the runway, Gaultier included two pregnant women in his fall show. "Disgusting," muttered an old-guard observer. But we rather enjoyed seeing models whose waists were larger than our thigh. Was Gaultier testing the waters of the maternity-wear market? Or is he so pregnant with burgeoning commercial possibilities that he required an objective correlative? It's the latter, we suspect, since Gaultier just opened a new boutique here called Galerie Gaultier. And a fertile galerie it is, stocked with everything but maternity clothes.

War Zone: A CNN cameraman was punched in the stomach before the start of Saturday's Claude Montana show, prompting dozens of his colleagues to take a hike in protest. The episode crystallized tensions between the press and some design houses (discounts notwithstanding). Editors desperate to attend the red-hot Galliano show, for example, were put through their groveling paces by the designer's public-relations crew. Even the very dignified Gianfranco Ferre and the very powerful John Fairchild were made to wait before a gatekeeper finally recognized them. We squeezed in behind their sizable wakes.

Stop the Presses: A British paper called the Independent is running this week a contest that seems, well, not too terribly British. "Win a 10,000 Outfit Designed for You by Christian Lacriox," screams the headline. In case such a prize sounds a bit rich for the average Englishwoman's blood, readers are reminded of writer Paul Gallico's charlady protagonist, Mrs. 'Arris (as in the 1957 novel "Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris"), who traveled to Paris to fulfill her dream of owning a haute couture dress. The promo also points out that M. Lacroix isn't one of those elitist designers who creates only for Size 8s. Imagine that--Lacroix for the masses.

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