When I travel, I like to bring along a book that’s set in the city I’m visiting. For the recent fall/winter collections in Paris, I chose Adam Gopnik’s collection of essays entitled 
Paris to the Moon. The book, which is based on his experiences living in the city from 1995 to 2000, is an eloquent and touching mash note to Paris. The night before I was to tour three ateliers that work with designers who create haute couture collections, I read Gopnik’s piece “Couture Shock.” In it, he recounts in a playfully bemused manner his foray into fashion’s rarefied
couture week. At the
Christian Lacroix show, Gopnik admits he was “settling in for a good long bath of contempt” when
Linda Evangelista appeared on the runway wearing “the ugliest dress” he’d ever seen, but as the show unfolded he coyly hints that something began to happen. By the time Karen Mulder appeared wearing a silver lace dress with an iced-pearl bodice, he’d been seduced. “
It’s all too much, and that’s where the loveliness—the couture moment—begins,” he writes. “The clothes are extravagant and unreal, but they don’t seem camp. They don’t seem artificial or out of this world, just symbolic of a common human hope that the world could be something other than what it is—younger and more musical and less exhausting and better lit. It proposes that the little moments of seduction on which, when we look back, so much of life depends could unfold as
formally as they deserve to, and all dressed up.” While the haute couture designers envision the collection, the artistry behind the fanciful embroidered and feathered embellishments is what often seduces us. In our June issue—which will be on newsstands on May 14—I write about my behind-the-scenes tour of the famed Lesage, Lemarié and Massaro Chanel-owned ateliers. Our art director flew to Paris to shoot Canadian model Tara Gill wearing exquisite pieces from
Chanel’s Métiers d’Art Bombay-Paris collection, and the photos will accompany the piece. Chanel launched its pre-fall Métiers d’Art collection in 2002 to showcase the couture-style craftsmanship of its ateliers. I’ve posted a sneak peek of some behind-the-scenes shots from the shoot. (We’ll post the stunning cover in a few days!) Trust me, you’ll be seduced. What role, if any, do you think couture plays in fashion today?