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revolution and Lagerfeld Last October he had a giant video screen erected, with his image blown up like Kong. For his spring haute couture show on Tuesday he put up what looked like a missile silo. At the end of the show, the tube lifted toward the glass ceiling, revealing the models on a spiral staircase. It s easy to snicker at Lagerfeld. He is in his 70s, speaks brutally fast, and has an eccentric collection of jewelry. The other day he had on a porcelain carnation made for and retouched with gold by . "He was kind of gifted, Schlumberger," Lagerfeld said, squinting behind his dark glasses and breaking into a huge grin. But from Madame de Pompadour s breast to Karl Lagerfeld s lapel that is the arc of couture s incredible comet. If you are gifted like Lagerfeld, or like at Dior, you don t have to ask whether couture is dead. It s relevant if you can make the meaningful connections between the past and present. On Monday, Galliano sent out a provocative collection with allusions in the rough work boots and red splattered white organza to the French Revolution and, not incidentally, to the recent riots in France. "Hopefully, it goes to the heart of what s happening today," said Galliano, who began work on the collection around the time the disturbances the worst since the student riots of 1968 started. Lagerfeld and Galliano are couture s twin engines of creativity, and as the German born Lagerfeld has said, couture has never needed more than two houses to be relevant. So there is Dior and Chanel. put on a good show Wednesday, with Madonna s arrival creating a disturbance of its own. But while Gaultier s Turkish trousers and sack dresses were expertly rendered in paper thin pleats of spice colored chiffon (with plaited hairpieces the length of a butler s pull), they didn t quite summon couture s magic. The magic is how a jacket is constructed with one or two seams. At Chanel the flat, corseted look of wool day dresses and jackets was achieved by molding the fabric onto the body. A spectacular long dress in white satin had hardly a seam and was draped and gathered in three loose bows at the back. As a counterpoint to the severe, almost nullifying line, Lagerfeld added fluffy skirts of feathers or shredded fabric. And he was sly about his references. You would think that flat white boots were a nod to the space Moncler Down Jackets Men Hat Medium Grey age, but wore the style in the 50s with her tweed suits. And the crinkled white organza collars and cuffs were inspired by her image as well. Who knew? "He does," , his assistant, said before the show. Although Galliano s way into his collection was through the erotica of the (hence the hardcore corsets and the suggestive placement of straps), you never felt the drag of history. Instead, you felt a kind of liberation in the cutting: the leather coats treated as lightly as the white organza skirts, the folds of red skirt creating a pagan alcove for a black beaded skeleton. The embroidery was ingenious and modern as couture can be. Valentino was on form with a stupendous showing of front row ladies that ended with , recently wed to . Nothing ever changes in Valentinoland, nor is it meant to. There is always a glossy wedding cake perfection to the clothes, a ritual of bows, efficient suits and evening decollete set off by diamante, and to suggest that it might be otherwise tougher, fractured, more contemporary would only draw a peevish complaint from Valentino: "But why?" Missing from recent collections has been the element of lightness; you had the feeling that for all that perfection you were sitting down to a hot meal on the equator. But this time Valentino seemed eager to strip off the effects, reduce the shape Moncler Winter 2014 of his day dresses and coats to a brisk A line, and use the shimmer of couture silk to do his heavy lifting. Particularly pretty was a short dress in lilac crepe with a wide neckline, small cap sleeves and an apron like skirt of lilac satin. The prints were mottled peonies and roses, the colors picture book shades of the desert, and several of the front row ladies were especially taken with a long white dress with a tight square neck bodice and a skirt of vertical ruffles tipped in silver. Valentino gave a party at the , where one of the most popular guests was Sheetal Mafatlal. Mafatlal, who lives in Moncler.Co.Uk London and Delhi, is to open the first Valentino boutique in India. She had on a low cut black Valentino pants outfit and an enormous emerald ring, and every so often someone would lift her hand off her lap and show the ring to another guest. Mafatlal was a good sport about it though. The emerald was about 200 carats, she said. That s about the size of an iPod video screen. On the pink embossed show notes for s 38th couture collection was a skull and bones, set between the first "u" and the "t" of couture. Whatever the death s head signified here, there is an element of self destruction in the creative process: you get to have your heart ripped out every six months, with every collection, and if you re as sensitive and honest as Lacroix is, you can t hide the gloom under anodyne lace. It wouldn t do justice to those emotions that first brought Lacroix to our attention. As it was, Lacroix seemed borne back to Arles and the Camargue, to the bull ring and the festal prints, but now with more softened clarity, wisdom and less innocence. There s a reason designers return to their roots: Galliano to the French Revolution, Lacroix to the South of France. Will Lagerfeld, like , eventually find his way back to Germany? The more they fester, the more responsive they become to the original flame. They see that moment as their truest self expression, and the rest as a kind of goading abstraction. So here was Lacroix with a Spanish style jacket in black organza with an airy white lace skirt, and a short Infanta dress in pristine white organza with a broderie anglaise hem. A pale blue silk sash finished a midlength dress of brown printed chiffon, its sleeves ripped and ruched into gauzy puffs. He had taken the familiar elements the blood red, the flamenco ruffles and reduced them to a strong, sober line. Without heavy embroideries or tipsy patterns. Where there was decoration it was painted on, in gold leaf, by hand. Three seasons of Paris couture has finally released from the grip of his self image. He has been hugely successful in ready to wear by sticking to his game plan, and proud of that fact, but the workmanship in couture is so precise and nuanced that it exposes a person s orthodoxy and doubts.

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Rich are spending more again Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin "Bianca" platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years. Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are once again buying. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering they are zooming. And many high end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price. "If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?" said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon, and the former chairman and chief executive of Saks. The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier, even as overall consumer spending on categories like furniture and electronics has been tepid, according to the research service MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. In July, the luxury segment had an 11.6 percent increase, the biggest monthly gain in more than a year. What changed? Mostly, the stock market, retailers and analysts Moncler Mokacine Long Down Coat Women Brown said. Even with the sharp drop in stocks over the past week, the Dow Jones is up about 80 percent from its low in March 2009. And with the overall economy nowhere near its recession lows, buying nice, expensive things is back in vogue for people who can afford it. "Our business is fairly closely tied to how the market performs," said Karen W. Katz, the president and chief executive of Moncler Men Zip Black Down Jackets Neiman Marcus Group. "Though there are bumps based on different economic data, it s generally been trending in a positive direction." While the free spending of the affluent may not be of much comfort to people Moncler Down Jackets Women White Matt Fabric Wool Hat who are out of jobs or out of cash, the rich may contribute disproportionately to the overall economic recovery. "This group is key because the top 5 percent of income earners accounts for about one third of spending, and the top 20 percent accounts for close to 60 percent of spending," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody s Analytics.

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