copy of the rough draft of Vladimir Nabokov's last novel ...
Paris Haute Couture: The air turned as blue as the eye make-up on the models
Hilary Alexander reveals the joys of high and low culture at Paris Haute Couture Week.
By Hilary Alexander
Published: 6:18PM GMT 27 Jan 2010
John Galliano's collection for Christian Dior was a triumph Photo: AP
Paris Haute Couture Week is always an eye-opening experience. The one-off outfits are the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the fashion world – created at a cost of £15,000 to £200,000 a pop. And the celebrity guests are just as stellar as the outfits: after a few days' hard graft by my cameraman and I, the Telegraph's fashion website is bulging with interviews with stars from Kanye West to Tina Turner. We even managed to capture Vogue supremo Anna Wintour without her trademark sunglasses – a rare coup indeed.
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Fashion is nothing if not an education – even in literature, entomology and pop culture. A copy of the rough draft of Vladimir Nabokov's last novel, The Original of Laura, published two months ago, was on display at the Place Vendôme establishment of the jewellers, Van Cleef & Arpels. The firm is renowned as purveyors of gemstones to everyone from monarchies to Madonna, and is putting on a show for the first time during this week's season in Paris.
Nabokov was a renowned lepidopterist, which inspired Van Cleef's glittering array of butterfly brooches, worked in diamonds, sapphires, garnets and aquamarines of dazzling hues. As I left, I was handed a little "goodie bag" – containing a butterfly net!
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The paparazzi may love the celebrities who flock to the world of fashion, but the hardcore catwalk photographers, perched 20 and 30 deep on precarious podiums, are not so enamoured. US singer and actress Ciara and burlesque diva Dita Von Teese were greeted with a chorus of boos from the heavy mob when they arrived half an hour late for the shows. In ancient Rome, they'd have been thrown to the lions.
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