“It’s about Chanel proportions and luxurious pushed to absolute nervous-breakdown extremes!” Karl Lagerfeld’s right-hand lady Amanda Harlech informed Vogue’s Hamish Bowles backstage on the home’s spring 1997 couture present. As Vogue reported, that individual January in Paris, the halls and lodge suites on the Ritz (Couture Fashion Week’s unofficial HQ) had been buzzing with phrase of a “showdown”. Simply the day earlier than, a 27-year-old British designer by the title of Alexander McQueen had introduced his debut couture assortment for Givenchy, entitled Seek for the Golden Fleece. The upshot? McQueen had piqued the eye of the world’s press together with his no-bullshit angle as a lot as his knife-sharp corsetry.
“He’s obtained lots of gumption,” Vogue journalist Kate Betts wrote of her pre-show encounter with McQueen in a prolonged extract, which I strenuously advise you to learn in full here. “We’re sitting within the large salon, a sublime room that has fallen into some disrepair, vases of half-dead flowers perched on an unpleasant makeshift espresso desk,” Betts continued.
“McQueen appears happy with the way in which issues are going, particularly with the ateliers. ‘You realize, I labored for Marc Bohan when he was at Hartnell, and it was the worst expertise of my life. He was so snotty with the ateliers. I feel they actually like me up there,’ he says, pointing to the ceiling and the Givenchy workrooms past. ‘They don’t suppose I’m some foolish little child from London fussing round with a hemline.’”
Moderately unsurprisingly, the feathers of the old-world powers of couturiers had been ruffled. Precisely a 12 months earlier, one other British star of the nouvelle avant garde, John Galliano, had unveiled his debut couture assortment for Dior and the once-serene salons had been now resolutely chock filled with Hollywood celebrities, mingling with rock stars, pop stars and royalty.
It was within the Nineteen Nineties that the resplendence of couture got here varnished with rise up. Supermodels prepped their very own make-up backstage, movie star Rosanna Arquette took her seat, unaccompanied, for the Chanel couture catwalk presentation and waited patiently for the present to start out. This was the last decade when you may spot Sylvester Stallone (once more, minus publicity entourage) loitering close to the backstage entrance, and Richard Gere is likely to be passing by means of to satisfy Cindy Crawford. Think about an period of unguarded haute jinx. Mariah Carey caught her Nineteen Nineties couture reveals whereas cuddling her pet and late supermodel Stella Tennant would arrive on the again of a motorcycle. It was chaotic—however this was the nice sort of chaos, which all of us miss in 2021.
Right here’s what it was truly prefer to go backstage at Couture Vogue Week within the Nineteen Nineties.