A PONY IN PARIS
Title relates not only to an infamous fashion story not to be told at this point, but to the arrival of:
RALPH LAUREN'S NEW SHOP IN PARIS & THE RAKE FASHION SHOOT
Was deployed to Paris this week to style The Rake’s Ralph Lauren shoot. Ralph opened his new shop/palace on Tuesday in a renovated 17th century ‘hôtel particulier’ on Boulevard St Germain. The shoot was mainly located in this splendid town house, with sweeping stairs and enormous windows, authentic mouldings, parquet flooring, and an American style restaurant cunningly named Ralph’s.
Discovered was shooting cheek by jowl (well, semi) with US Vogue, making my opposite number on the shoot the massive fashion presésence André Leon Tally. You should see him case the gaff. Like a camp Darth Vadar sans helmet he stalks, with an entourage trailing out behind him. Got turfed from the rococo chamber we initially set up in 'cause his lot wanted it, and when returned an hour later to retrieve my de-fluffer, the full crew were now entrenched. “You-can’t-go-in-there, you-cant-go-in there!” trilled the bevy of fashion carers. Breezing past them to enter US fash’ space, pointing out they’re not actually the CIA or the presidential bodyguard. André was reclining pertly on a massive chez lounge with a blanket thrown over him while his team fussed and twitched to his every gesticulation. “You comfy on there André?” I asked to the dismay of the team. “Ve-ry comfort-able thenk you.” Andre beamed back. I think we shared a ve-ry fashion moment.
The beginning of spring for me was momentous for other fashion reasons. I lost my ‘real bow tie virginity’ (with a man). Never managed to 'pull one off' live in front of a photographic team before, but somehow went into a knot-trance, positioned firmly behind my George: Michael/Hamilton/Clooney-a-like model, Francois. He’s is an actor by trade, so probably used to getting rumped during the course of a working day. He commanded a certain presence in the rakish role. His female counterpart far less so, giving the oars festooning Ralph’s collegiate room a run for their money on a wooden quotient.
More style poignancy still when Monsieur Lauren himself slipped by to see how we were going. Small but perfectly turned out in little cowboy boots, he was charming. It must be horrid being the head of such organisations, as you end up surrounded by hoards of dribbling sycophants. Not wishing to join the dribblers, I asked Ralph’s opinion on whether one should fasten a dinner jacket when cummerbund was in place, as was shooting such an outfit at that moment. He casually tweaked the open ensemble saying “you got it down pretty cool”. Thanks Capo, always good to know.
Other locations for the shoot included the bar at hotel Le Meurice bar and some Parisian’s plush apartment. This plateau of luxury surroundings was maintained all week, as Ralph’s lot had vigorously pushed the bateau out, spoiling me rotten with lodgings in the Hôtel Plazza Athénée, (also patronised by pop group Tokyo Hotel, hence mob of teenager girls). A delightfully grandiose experience put a whole new slant on the term ‘work’. A man in a white tux came to my room on the second night and filleted my sole for me, and when the clothes were delivered from the van, they came on a very chic porter's rail. The week took on a certain glamorous ‘pas de deux’ from my point of view.
The shoot finished, I found myself with two hours to kill and a massive Cohiba that was one of the un-used props. I plotted outside the Hôtel Plazza Athénée with the very rich old men and their cigars, trying to blend in. Four glasses of Sancerre and a pile of Cuban ash later and I had blended so much I nearly missed the last Eurostar out of France. Aerospace above Europe was sealed off by Icelandic ash, and the train was packed to capacity. The swollen numbers caused a sandwich dearth, prompting near riots in first class. Angry Brits vented spleen in a most undignified manner at the staff. Sans sandwich, I gratefully recalled my week of sumptuous treatment, and shuddered at what A.L.T’s Vogue firm would have made of this catering catastrophe. Bread rolls were given out, but I doubt Vogue do improv’ rations, or travel with a their own supply of ‘pate coup de gras’ to go with said pain.
Au revoir pour maintenant, Stubbs.