Paris Haute Couture at l'Hotel du Ville, Paris

I'm making this week  my own private fashion week;  today I went to the Paris Haute Couture show at the Hotel du Ville (running through July 6th), tomorrow I'm taking a Chanel walk with Paris Walks, and I'm hoping to make it to  Fashioning Fashion: Two Centuries of European Fashion 1700-1915  to close out the week.
There was no excuse for me to miss the Paris Haute Couture  show. It's five minutes from our flat and its free, what more could I want?  Yes there's a line (partly because it's free) but it only took 20 minutes on a midweek afternoon, however you may want to avoid Saturdays.

Over the last few years I've seen a few fashion shows at the De Young in San Francisco (most recently one on Balenciaga) but what I liked about this show was the breadth, the opportunity to see gowns and accessories from such a broad variety of designers over such a long period of time.
It starts with a focus on the craft, a Chanel dress is displayed from design, through the cotton pattern (all marked up and pinned, through to the final product. There are lots of examples of albums showing the couturier's original designs and sketches, some including fabric swatches.
 I particularly love this sketch which shows one of Dior's original drawings for his radical 1947 "New Look" show.
 I liked this one from Christian Lacroix,
 and this one from Saint Laurent...
There are also lots and lots of gowns on display. This blush colored Balanciega gown combines a wonderful mix of austerity and luxury, with  clean lines above contrasting with the soft opulence of the ostrich skirt below.
Fascinatingly this Christian Lacroix gown with it's bustle is displayed next to Edwardian gowns whose style would have   inspire it. It's hard to see in this photo but the wonder of this gown is the contrast between the luxurious fabrics and skirt and the simple sweater style design of the bodice. Despite the bustle it has a very modern feel
 Saint Laurent from the 1980's.
 A couture exhibit would not be complete without a Chanel suit and here there were two. The design on the left is from the 1960s while the suit on the right is a contemporary piece.
There were so many more gowns I wanted to photograph including Pierre Cardin's Target Dress from the 1960's but unfortunately I was told I was not meant to be taking any photos, apparently missed the sign! Luckily I was able to find the image at the top on their website.

 What was striking was the sense of quality,  of luxury, of drapery, of embellishments that ran through the collection, whether the gowns were contemporary or over one hundred years old. I wish I could choose one and take it home don't you?