...Continued from page 1

If you, like me, have gone back to wearing jeans, you may not care what color your socks are or if they even match. The good old five-dollar jeans that used to fit and wore for a long time are no longer with us. The hundred-buck jeans which fit poorly and wear out fast seem to be what we're stuck with.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may as well come to terms with our times and get ready to buy thousand-dollar jeans, and get them hand-made in Paris.

Few of Paris' fashion designers have ever touched a computer, even though some of them wear jeans. They work with paper and pencils, and manyphoto: boules, palais royal of their creations are put together with flying fingers, cloth, needles and thread.

Behind the balls, visit the odd shops under the arcades of the Palais-Royal.

Two years ago, when Saint-Laurent's collection was first put online, he shocked an conservative industry, one insane with fear of counterfeits. The man behind Saint-Laurent, Pierre Bergé, noted at the time that digital photos of the shows were in editorial offices around the globe before the last model left the runway.

Naturally, for Prêt-à-Porter, the manufacturers have long used computers - for cutting cloth to get the most out of it, as just one example - but despite all the zoomy software available, few designers use it. Why fight with a dumb machine when a pencil has endless memory?

While some designers don't think the Web is useful for showing off - too slow! too small! too crude! - they do use it to research ideas for their collections.

The top designers are resigned to rip-off copies appearing immediately after their runway presentations - due to television coverage and the digital cameras. They hope their brand-names will be sought as the 'real thing' - the authentic version. The labels make the difference between the real and the fake. Beware of fake labels!

The 'real' by the way, only shows up in shops about six months after their runway presentations. If you see it sooner than this, you probably are not seeing the 'real' thing.

Most of the designers are interested in the eventual possibility of online sales, but many are held back by lack of ready cash to invest in Web sites - and their existing distribution contracts. The designers can't afford to compete with their own distributors.

Just the same, the designers like the idea of showing off their stuff worldwide. Like magazine photos and runway shows on TV, you can't touch the cloth on the Web - but you can see some the excitement - at your leisure.

On the counterfeiter's Web sites, there is nothing to see. Because they have nothing new.

Note: Many of the following Web sites require late-version browsers and/or Java, Flash or Shockwave plug-ins. Some of the sites also have either big or lots of images, and may be slow to load with slower modems.

The Designers' Web Sites: Other Web Sites de Mode:
  • The French Fashion Establishment has news for you.
  • Fashion Live - is brought to you by WorldMedia, who did the 'Football Café.'
  • The Louis Vuitton - Moët Hennessy conglomo is as much about fashion as it is about fancy bags and Champagne, but it is a slow loader.
  • And by no means last, Spoon Magazine.
  • See the full report about fashion and the Web, in last Friday's Libération 'Multimédia.' While there, take a look at 'Chroniques,' to read what Jean-Louis Gassée has to say about Microsoft this week. If you care, that is.
This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 2.45 - 10. November 1997 - This issue featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'Welcome to Parigi!' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Maurice Papon Was a 'Cleaning Lady'.' The issue had two articles, entitled 'Visiting a Different Museum - Freemason's 'Grand Orient'' and 'How to 'Go Native' in Paris Restaurants' by Adrian Leeds. There were four 'Posters of the Week.' Ric's Cartoon of the Week was subtitled, 'The undercover restaurant critics at work.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 418 medium-sized days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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