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couture week winds down with a bash and an exhibition at versailles

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Farida Khelfa, Christian Louboutin, and Dita Von Teese   
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Couture is always an embarras de richesse, so where better to end the week than at the temple of richness and luxe, Versailles? Designers, couturiers, models, and entourages all made their way to Louis XIV's palace last night for the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture's valedictory fete, which served as well as the vernissage of Le XVIII au Goût du Jour, an off-site exhibition of Paris' Musée Galliera fashion museum. Curated by Olivier Saillard, the museum's new director, the show is a past-meets-present feast of clothing from and inspired by the Age of Enlightenment in France: the corsetry, breeches, frock coats, petticoats, hoop skirts, and sack-back gowns also known as robes à la française. To judge by the assortment of contemporary designers on view ("in a poetic conversation" with the antique pieces), there's scarcely a big fashion name out there who hasn't had a fling with courtly bling: Comme des Garçons, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, Balenciaga, Maison Martin Margiela, Christian Dior, and nearly every other French house within slingshot reach of Avenue Montaigne figures in this show.

Giambattista Valli (fresh from his Couture debut), Rick Owens and wife Michele Lamy, Haider Ackermann, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pierre Hardy, Véronique Nichanian, and more spun through the rooms of Le Grand Trianon to check it out. Owens, for his part, asserted he was one of the few who hadn't pillaged the eighteenth century for inspiration. "But I'm always referencing the thirties and forties," he countered. "And once I even knocked off Madame Grès, but that was way before the [current] retrospective when everyone started talking about her." Maybe next season will be the one to bring the Sun King to Rick's court. After all, the Grès retrospective that brought her back to the fashion fore was another Saillard production.

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