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July 8, 2008 3:29 PM

Eye, Fashion

The Couture Shuffle

Daphne Guinness at Chanel.photo by Dominique MaitreWhat would a pair of couture roller skates look like? Painstakingly looped in Lesage embroidery? Threaded with gold laces? Paris couture week -- once the playground of Ladies Who Lunch, after a morning...

Daphne Guinness at Chanel
Daphne Guinness at Chanel.
photo by Dominique Maitre
What would a pair of couture roller skates look like? Painstakingly looped in Lesage embroidery? Threaded with gold laces?

Paris couture week -- once the playground of Ladies Who Lunch, after a morning at the hairstylist -- has become as congested and hectic as the ready-to-wear shows.

That was especially the case for the international press given all the sideshows tacked on to the four-day calendar.

Time was of the essence last week bounding between couture shows for the big French houses, anniversary parties for various sportswear and handbag brands, porcelain exhibitions -- you name it. Not all of the attractions belonged in couture week. High fashion need not aspire to fast fashion.

But some players last week seemed to be cognizant of their time-pressed audience. Jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels installed a mini reconstruction of four classical gardens in its headquarters, replete with fresh grass, water fountains and terra-cotta slabs, allowing preciously pressed-for-time visitors to hop from one jewelry theme to another in a single step.

It was a fitting metaphor for what couture week has become. Dior's packed maternity unit (where baby jewels came displayed in faux incubators) resembled more of an emergency ward, such was the frenzy to catch a glimpse of the newborns, elbows first, and get the heck out in time for the next, gloriously short-lived event.

The solution? Multitasking, as nimbly demonstrated by Georgina Brandolini, who breezed into Daphne Guinness's party at Caviar Kaspia and immediately had the waiters unfurl a sheet of salmon on to a blini. Her tactic: one plate per party. In this case, Loulou de la Falaise was for main course. And off she went.

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