Grazia's style director Paula Reed is in Shanghai for the unveiling of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest Metier D’Arts collection for Chanel. Here's her inside scoop on all the excitement so far...
It’s bedtime in Shanghai and tonight I am definitely heading up the stairs to Bedfordshire. Last night, the British press (a notorious knot of non stop party people) tried to drink themselves sleepy. Failed. We just got drunk. We were so giddy that when we finally decided to call it a night, we ‘skated’ to the lift across the Peninsula’s marble floors. It is a testament to the staff’s good grace that they simply smiled and waved as we attempted salchow jumps and toe loops past the concierge desk.
So we all woke up, not just horrendously jet lagged but hideously hungover too. I thought of Bill Murray so often today (Lost In Translation?)
Went out shopping with our lovely translator and guide Anna. I bought jade earrings, red silk pyjamas, ginseng tea, a chairman Mao figurine, a calligraphy set, and a smiling metal frog that changes colour from bronze to gold when you pour boiling water on him. Had tea in the Hu Garden, strolled through the French concession and got a lesson in Feng Shui from the man at the government jade outlet. There is so much to see here, my eyes hurt.
I asked Anna where she liked to buy her clothes. There seems to be a Vuitton, Armani, Prada and Chanel presence wherever you look. And it’s all significantly more expensive than in Europe. Did she buy at Zara for example (I saw a few of those). ‘What’s that?’ she said. And when I explained it’s where British girls love to tap into trends, she looked at me with something approaching pity in her eyes and said ‘Oh no….Chinese girls are only interested in proper big brands. If you can’t have Chanel or Vuitton, you go without.’ This was not a rich young women. A recalculation of my tip was clearly in order.
The main event today was tonight’s dinner with Karl Lagerfeld: me and about 200 other fashion editors who have flown in from all over the world for tomorrow’s show.
I need to apologise right now to anyone who has been watching the videos and wondering where the Kaiser is. He arrived really late (he only landed last night and had quite a lot to do today….he was still toiling at the coalface of beauty, while we had our starters). When he arrived he was surrounded by French press. Man, those editors are skinny, sexy, chic and scary. Instead of filming, I bottled it.
Carine Roitfeld was working some seriously smudgy kohl liner, looking panda-eyed and swathed in a black Chanel floor sweeping cloak. Vanessa Paradis, new Chanel advertising face, was there looking cute in couture. Karl’s new favourite man muse, Baptiste Giabiconi, had an Elvis quiff that I swear was a foot high.
The dinner was at the Yong Foo Elite Club….a glamorous Shanghai townhouse, former British and Russian consulate back in the day when Shanghai was Paris of the east and party capital of the world. Set in a garden full of trees lit with red paper lanterns, fish ponds full of golden carp, and boys bearing trays full of champagne, it’s one of the most glamorous places I’ve ever been.
Pre-dinner entertainment was provided by a calligrapher who gave everyone scrolls with their name in Chinese characters. We discussed the days shopping, tomorrow’s show (a big black barge almost filling the entire width of the Huangpu river has been especially built as a venue) and how much we wanted to re-decorate with wallpaper, cabinets full of jade ornaments and tassled lanterns……2010 interior style is so going to be all about Chinese maximalism.
Inside we feasted (?!) on marinated carp and fried rice. I saw one intrepid British fashion editor shove a chopstick laden with jellyfish into her mouth only to fess up that in the dim light she thought it was grapefruit. The Australian press contingent were wondering meanwhile if the glutinous pile was carb or protein. Take it from me….you are no happier to meet that thing on your plate than in the sea. And for the record, it’s a texture, not a taste and I won’t ever be ordering it from a menu of my own free will.
Leaving, I gushed to Karl what a ‘wonderful’ time I was having. He was looking rather resplendent in a gold embroidered black Mao coat. He looked at me like I was deranged and said, ‘Really? I can’t say I liked my food at all.’ Don’t you just hate it when brown-nosing backfires?
Check in here tomorrow for a front row report from the Chanel Paris Shanghai show and the after party...