Phyllis Stine Does Paris Couture Shows

Dear Diary:

Jan. 15: C’est moi, c’est moi , Phyllis Stine. En route to airport for Paris and spring-summer 1999 couture shows. J’adoring the New Year, after considerable dread. Realized I’ve been pushing myself much too hard lately to become someone of more substance, not just style, especially during the demise of my marriage to Mr. Stine. Obviously the world is crazy and all I can do is be happy and not contribute to the madness. Instead, I’m relaxed and upbeat, watching alimony stocks go up and the world go to hell in a cheap


Still opening Christmas presents. This morning unwrapped anti-fur video from Stella McCartney, fashion designer daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, with note wondering if we might “discuss this.” Too late for me, sweetie. Every day I wear something to annoy People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Fur, or as the protesters on 57th Street say, “Fuh,” is back, and it’s my job to take fashion literally.

Which is not to say I’ve given up intellectual aspirations. Been sleeping with copy of Chip Brown’s smart new book, Afterwards, You’re a Genius , tucked under my Pratesi pillow. Mais oui , it’s in my suitcase.

Jan. 16. Midnight: Paris. Napped today until tea. Just tea; sans sweets. Never let yourself eat cake in France. Dressed in mad dash. Red Calvin Klein tube top and skirt, black, Anna Sui suede boots and pale-yellow patent leather Louis Vuitton monogram belt bag.

Attended Versace show at Ritz. Then the gallery opening of Tom Sachs, a New Yorker. J’adored the exhibition. Things like breakfast trays covered in Hermès paper and Prada sandwich containers à la McDonald’s. The apex was this approximately 15-foot-tall Chanel guillotine–about $45,000–which, according to the Paris cognoscenti, was bought by the San Franciscan art patron Dodie Rosekrans for her new palazzo in Venice. Saw Dodie’s Paris flat in recent Town & Country . Divine.

After Tom Sachs opening went to Donatella Versace’s dinner at Les Bains Douches for Kate Moss. Surrounded by Liv Tyler, Billy Zane, Michael Keaton, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Christina Ricci, who is no relation to Nina Ricci. I asked.

Jan. 17: Duly noted: The mood at the couture shows is mellow ebullience, and Tokyo is the latest destination for the latest innovative plastic surgery. All the really rich French ladies go to Tokyo, although their bee-stung lips are done locally. During Alexander McQueen’s Givenchy show, I tried to pry names of best Tokyo doctors from lips of said swells but found lips tight, so to speak.

Duly noted: Starting July 1, to celebrate new millennium, Paris will float one of the world’s biggest moored balloons, 12 stories of bright yellow helium, in the André Citroën gardens bordering the Seine. It’s symbolism. Like the clothes and the shows this season: a magnificence that floats hope grounded in réalité and craftsmanship. After seasons of hype, inflated theatrical shows were replaced with smaller, more personal presentations intended for the traditional couture customer, not tabloids looking for racy shots and costume-fashion trickery. Even Jean-Paul Gaultier, who sometimes just flies off in his own direction, took inspiration for his collection from best-dressed French lady Jacqueline de Ribes.

At the Givenchy show, tried to have meaningful dialogue with Bernard Arnault, whose Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has taken 34.4 percent of Gucci stock and will probably buy up Yves Saint Laurent. Men so absorbed by fashion interest me. But what is known as a phalanx of bodyguards kept me from Mr. Arnault. Wonder if he e-mails like Bill Gates?

Valentino’s show? Chic, chic. Dined chez Valentino after. Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Nan Kempner, Diane von Fürstenberg, among other guests. No one talked about Bill Clinton. In Paris, only taxi drivers talk about Bill Clinton.

Jan. 18: John Galliano’s show for Christian Dior, at the Dior maison on Avenue Montaigne. Six small shows at one-hour intervals rather than one big whoop like last season’s extravaganza in a far-flung train station where I suffered acid flashback when models arrived on a train led by Pocahontas. Not this time. Calm John was inspired by Jean Cocteau. J’adored the Cocteau evening sheaths and silver-powdered bodybuilders cast as statues.

Jan. 19: Papers reporting Mick Jagger claiming Bali wedding to Jerry Hall nine years ago not legally binding. Quel cad.

After easy-breezy Chanel show, rushed in photographer Ellen von Unwerth’s Mini-Cooper car through streets of Paris– whee! –to far-flung location of Viktor & Rolf, young avant-garde couturiers. First they showed 17 ensembles under black lights. Jabots and ruffles glowing, oh my! Then, lights on, they showed the 17 outfits again. Mirror, mirror on the wall–am I too old?

Christian Lacroix very Christian Lacroix, which is wonderful for Christian Lacroix.

Jan. 20: “I’m broke,” Nan Kempner announced after Yves Saint Laurent show. With the featherweight fabrics, the celebration of color and loose tailoring–trends this season–the ladies are shopping, spending it all. As the personal, intimate touch is the thing this week, Oscar de la Renta mingled before his swell collection for Pierre Balmain. He kindly adjusted the collar on my Fendi sable jacket.

Am torn, dear diary. Do I order Givenchy’s harlequin bodysuit made with something like 800,000 sequins, or the Tom Sachs guillotine? Guillotine would cost less.

Must decide tout de suite . Leaving via Eurostar for London. Met this terribly nice, if tad oversexed, English gent in Hemingway Bar at the Ritz last night. He said the way things were going in England these days, Britain’s House of Lords may soon be filled with peers chosen by lots, so even I could become a lady if I established myself there.

My mother, may she rest in peace, always wanted me to become a lady.

Billy’s List: Quiz time!

1. “He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it,” a quote from The Great Gatsby , is inscribed at the home of which of the following?

a. Kevin Costner.

b. Bill Gates.

c. Donald Trump.

2. Hiromix is:

a. the trendiest Paris boutique, opening a SoHo shop in March.

b. a hip, 20-year-old Japanese photographer.

c. a London animation studio that recently cast Nicholas Cage’s voice in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory .

3. Pnina Rosenblum is:

a. Julia Roberts’ alias.

b. the president of Prada’s operations in the United States.

c. the Israeli cosmetics tycoon who recently formed her own political party.

Answers: (1) b; (2) b; (3) c. Phyllis Stine Does Paris Couture Shows