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Armani’s One Night Only: the darker side of elegance

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Armani's One Night Only exhibition

Armani’s One Night Only exhibition Photo: JASON LLOYD EVANS

In the hurly-burly of fashion show reporting, when you’re primed for something new and only the scent of something radical will do, it’s easy to overlook the classics. I was reminded of that at One Night Only, the spectacularly displayed Giorgio Armani exhibition, pictured above, that has just opened in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo.

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Any one of the pieces could be worn now. That’s part of the appeal and the wow. On their own, outside the narrow parameters of a fashion show, suspended in black space, starkly dramatic and unashamedly sparkly, they looked magnificent.

But where Armani really works is on women who share his talent for looking unimpeachably elegant while hinting that beneath it all lurks something darker. Cate Blanchett, who wore Armani at the Golden Globes a fortnight ago, is the ideal Armani mascot. She wasn’t there last night, but Kristin Scott Thomas was – a fair swap.



Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Kristen Scott Thomas PHOTO: Alain ROBERT/Apercu/SIPA/REX

For all its alleged xenophobia and impermeability

to external influences, Paris, where I’ve been covering couture shows all week, has a tradition of embracing foreign women who commit to living here – and absorbing their style into its own.

Make that certain foreign women. Jane Birkin, born in London; Charlotte Rampling, an Essex girl; Kristin Scott Thomas, originally from Cornwall … notice a national trend here?

The Italian Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, on the other hand, is a woman the French still haven’t quite fallen for.

“What’s Carla done to her face” was the most asked question this week, as she sat, more Cheshire Cat-like than ever, in the front row of the Schiaparelli show. How impoli – but, truthfully, I found myself wondering the same thing.

Kristin Scott Thomas on the other hand, sitting at Armani, is a shining example of the preferred French approach to cosmetic tweaking.

Maybe she has, maybe she hasn’t; no one knows, and that’s the way the French like it – just like presidential affairs.



Elle France Julie Gayet
Julie Gayet on the cover of French Elle

One week after Closer magazine published those pictures of François Hollande peddling away from Julie Gayet’s apartment, French Elle has devoted not only its cover, but also two separate features to

the actress French Tweeters now mischievously refer to as France’s Second Lady.

Elle just lurves Gayet: she’s an intellectual, an espouser of worthy causes, she goes camping with her teenage sons and has impeccable socialist credentials – she not only openly backed Ségolène Royal’s campaign for gay marriage, but also Hollande himself. Her father, a medical professor at the Montsouris Institute, and her mother, an antiquarian, apparently “couldn’t care less about money or power”.

Not only that, but in the full-page portrait inside Elle, Gayet is wearing a very French Vogue-y black trouser suit with bang-on-trend, thick white-soled sneakers. She’s quite a package. Poor Valérie.

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