Phyllis Stine Copes With the Paris Heat Wave

July 17. Dear Diary: C’est moi , Phyllis Stine. C’est moi . Where was I? Right: I didn’t get the job as editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar . Decided I could make a career working for Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate campaign. Helping Hillary “listen” to what constituents want because, after all, I have a lot of wants myself.

So, I am jotting it all down, in Paris, France, where I am dutifully attending the couture shows for autumn-winter 1999-2000. All of Paris is having a heat wave. Am wearing cropped fuchsia T-shirt from Urban Outfitters and red bikini bottoms from Liza Bruce. My toes look divine. Painted with Chanel’s Goldlights-gel with gold dust. “Twinkle, twinkle, little toe, where did that goddamn snakeskin Manolo Blahnik go? …”

Naturellement , there are vast issues brewing in the whole of Europe right now that will soon become vast issues in the whole of the United States if we aren’t careful. Issues from Europe always land in New York first. Hence, I propose the following issues worthy of Hillary’s platform. (Such excitement: previously only thought about platform shoes.)

1. An outbreak of what the local papers are calling “Majorca acne” because there’s too much sun and too much bacteria and too much sweaty SPF lotion in the whole of European vacation spots this summer. We’re against it.

2. French Druids who feel victimized by cranky French authorities seek citizenship in Britain and, think about it, if they don’t get into Britain you know they’ll wash up in Woodstock, N.Y. We’re for them.

3. The British Dental Association is warning that tongue piercing can lead to serious infection if the stud is not made of surgical steel, titanium or gold. Platinum is O.K., too. Cheap Stud Infection could spread to New York and put slews of hairdressers out of commission lest we act now! We’re against it.

4. But the really big problem and hithertofore-that’s a political sounding word, isn’t it, Dear Diary?-the one Hillary should use to capture the female vote is the Save Our Pashminas movement. Big headlines in London papers expressed outrage because of August’s British Vogue , which declared pashmina shawls passé. Passé ? Might as well mandate the Miller sisters to walk naked on Park Avenue when the news spreads to New York. Save the pashminas now!

July 17. Later. Almost forgot to mention the shows. Wore head-to-toe Gucci to Donatella Versace’s glam show at the Ritz which was a good thing because, first, André Leon Talley sprung an interview on me. (He’s doing a television show on the collections meant to be broadcast on ABC July 29 at 9 P.M.) Then, I stumbled into Gucci’s Tom Ford at Donatella’s after-party. Tom told me he wants to do couture-yeah!

In case you don’t know, couture means made-to-order clothes rather than ready-to-wear clothes and couture costs, like, $20,000 for a suit. Couture takes a very strong constituent because it is very time consuming. You have all these fittings-in Paris!-which are difficult because you don’t want to eat for days before, and that

really runs a girl down. It’s a good thing that girls who wear couture have chauffeurs at the end of their fingers.

Vogue writer Plum Sykes was at the Versace party. I said “Plum! You’re in Paris!”

She exclaimed, “I’m doing Puff Daddy!”

And there was Puff Daddy. I said, “Hon, good for you-if it’s good for you-but wouldn’t you be happier in the long run if you arranged to become the next Duchess of Devonshire?”

Yes, yes, still reading Amanda Foreman’s biography of Georgiana Spencer who became the Duchess of Devonshire in 1774-am a slow reader when it is a big life. Although I’ve been told, since I’m going to England from Paris for a country weekend on Friday, I should switch books and read Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man , by Siegfried Sassoon. But I’m not going to read that hairdresser’s book. Disapprove of its premise. I only wear fox; I am entirely opposed to hunting it.

Noticed Plum taking notes about the aforementioned Puffy and was relieved to realize she was only writing about him. There’s a chance yet for her to become my last duchess.

July 18. Alexander McQueen’s show for Givenchy was inspired by the beheading of Lady Jane Grey in 1554-speaking of English weekends-and was shown not on supermodels, but technological mannequins. Think Tudor Disney World or Nan Kempner in a Tim Burton remake of Funny Face . (Fashion is all about the concept metaphor, Dear Diary.) That night, Valentino’s show. Sooo pretty. Finally, some real clothes. Need those, too, because they work well in the unreal circumstances in which we all sometimes drop.

July 19. Was running late for Dior show at Versailles. Frantic about how long it was taking hairdresser who’d come to my room to install these fun colorful plastic tubes to my hair-about $600 for the job-when I was overcome with a sense of history. “I’ll be late for Versailles!” How many queens have screamed that?

Ah, Versailles (Pronounced: Ver-sigh.) What can you say about a John Galliano collection for Dior shown at Versailles when you’re sitting across the runway from Jocelyn Wildenstein and Galliano’s concept is Matrix , the movie, meets Gainsborough, the painter?

“Colors? Whoops! Here’s a hazard warning from the control tower: a lime-green satin dress cut drunkenly from cargo pants and a fluorescent-green sweater (actually in knitted mink),” Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune cautioned me at Dior. Suzy says I should try to take fashion more poetically, and less literally. “Whatever,” I said. “As long as it reads.”

July 21. Lots of status, and lots of quo, at Yves Saint Laurent today. Am ordering the zibeline (sable) cape from Balmain, the long white goddess dress bordered in jewels from Chanel for the spa, two Chanel suits and three geometric shifts pieced together from precision-cut rectangles. Also, the Russian-doll-like nine-in-one concoction from Viktor & Rolf that model Maggie Rizer wore-although I’m worried Madonna has already ordered it for the Grammys.

Off to England. Couture’s over until next time. I rest my face. Any trends? Not many, if any. Lots of parachutes, but I’m not jumping yet. Hoped last couture show of the century would blow my mind. Instead, saw some pretty clothes, but, ultimately, it was a big Nothingburger. And that’s O.K., really. Nothingburgers are very dietetic. And fashion is all about, If the dress fits …

Billy’s List: Quiz time!

1. “As if at the birthing of a new world the Sandman had spilled a dusting of diamonds on the rags of a condemned woman,” is an excerpt from the program of which couture show?

a. Jean-Paul Gaultier.

b. Paco Rabanne

c. Viktor & Rolf.

2. According to Ricky Martin, when Madonna told him, “Let’s cry a little,” she meant:

a. make love.

b. make music together.

c. chant from the cabala.

3. What have Londoners nicknamed “Ted”?

a. a hip, permissive stepfather.

b. one’s eccentric gardener.

c. a supermodel’s rich sugar bear.

Answers: (1) c; (2) b; (3) b.