One thing that was quite amazing about the Yves Saint Laurent show on Thursday night was that not one model carried a handbag. This may sound irrelevant when we're talking about fashion shows and clothes, but it's not. The handbag is the cash cow of the luxury goods business and it has been for some time now. As such, most of the fashion industry folk attending the spring 2008 shows in Paris are more than accustomed to runway shows where every single model marches out brandishing a bag. Maybe YSL designer Stefano Pilati didn't show any because he doesn't have to his Muse bag and Downtown bag have both been runaway bestsellers. The lack of handbags forced Pilati's audience to look at the clothes, which is not such a bad thing sometimes. Although there were some clunkers, Pilati took a more austere and slightly Japanese approach this season and turned out some pretty fabulous jackets and two beautiful dresses. Along with Martin Margiela, the Japanese designers seem to be the big influencers on runways.
At the Hermes show Saturday afternoon the influence came from India and so the models wore Nehru jackets and saris. And, of course, they carried many newfangled versions of the house's coveted Birkin bag: one in matte white crocodile skin, another in shiny orange croc. There were even mini clutch versions in lizard skin. At a house like Hermes you realize that the clothes no matter how absurd and far-fetched don't really matter.
Victoire de Castellane's fine jewelry presentation at Dior has become a destination for weary fashion editors in search of a laugh at the end of Paris fashion week. The quirky designer always comes up with a humorous way to present her jewels. This season television shopping was her theme and de Castellane even convinced her boss, Dior CEO Sidney Toledano, to make a video with her wherein they pretended to be selling $100,000 jewels on a QVC-like shopping channel. They had the language and the gestures down pat and even invited fictitious Dior fine jewelry customers to give mock "testimonials." One woman claimed that she had lost 300 kilos when she bought a Dior jewel; another became pregnant with triplets. "This ring will last 1,000 years," de Castellane exclaimed. Has she ever bought anything on TV? "Yes!" she said, "A pair of flip-flops!" Even though the premise is funny, the business of fine jewelry is no joke: last season de Castellane's Belledone collection sold out in something like three days.