So after 10 days of frantic showings in Paris of clothes for next spring, what does it all mean? Some trends are clear: clothes are getting narrower and your eye is likely to become accustomed to clothes that are no longer oversized but are more revealing of the body. That means marked waistlines and hems that are cut off just below the knee. (It's worth keeping in mind as you shop the sales now going on in Washington stores.)
Hands down, the best way to shop - even window shop - in Paris these days is in the department stores. Prices are so high it is essential to comparison shop, and having all the boutiques with their best duds under one roof gives you the chance to see all. At Gallaries Lafayette there are boutiques for Sonia Rykiel, Claude Montana, Dorothee Bis, Thierry Mugler, Kenzo, Hechter and dozens more. Next door at Au Printempts there's Bercher, Rech, Tiktiner, plus many of the same ones as at the competition. Prices are the same as at the small boutiques scattered all over town. Sizes and colors are in considerable depth in most and the store setting is often the same as in the original store. The big advantage for big spenders - a tax refund (detaxe) of 22 percent paid in cash (francs) on the spot at the airport.
In spite of the prices, the shoppings goes on like mad in Paris. Linda Dolkos and Elaine Manarin from Washington, but in Paris last week for the cooking school at La Varenne, were on line 45 minutes outside Louis Viutton before entering the shop, then on another line inside. They ended up doing their serious shopping at E. Dehillerin, the largest restaurant supply house for certain pots, strainers, etc. not available here. Among the shocking prices they found around Paris: $40 for a wash-and-set at the Hilton, $50 for a child's jumper. "I guess basically I had the problem of adjusting to the fact that the franc isn't worth a quarter anymore," observed Rosalyn Rettman, a Justice Department attorney. "Your basic postcard in Paris now costs 40 cents, in England 20 cents." Another disappointment for Rettman - not a smart pair of shoes in Paris under $85.
The gold embroidered jacket Rudolf Nureyev's been wearing is from the last couture collection of Emanuel Ungaro. Nureyev saw Bettina, formerly, Ungaro's director, wearing the jacket with an evening gown and insisted on an even trade. She went home with his pea coat. He was wearing the jacket the other evening at Le Palace.
Alexandre, pet hairdresser for socialists as well as several couturiers, describes the new hairstyles as "flou" (soft), to balance the new broad shouldered, nipped waisted styles. Most of the styles he worked out with Yves Saint Laurent are donw with a double chignon, with the hair often pulled away from the face and rolled or braided for a small head look to balance the shoulders.
French hair designer Jean Louis David, whose hairstyles were used by Jean Claude de Luca and others, says that the hairstyle change is largely one of pulling the hair back to show off the face. "Women are now more free and secure, don't need to hide behind the hair worn around the face. Now they want to show what they are." He believes in chignons, with everything, the hair itself short and curly and easy to towel dry. David separates the French designers from the American by saying, "The French are dreamers." New York designers, he says, are the best reflection of the Europeans. "The French are gamblers, the Americans the realists," he says. "And if a French design isn't accepted in New York, it isn't worth anything."
After black leather, what? White leather, says designer Jean Pierre Bruat, whose designs for Corval are carried by Bergdorf Goodman, Brown's of London and Helena Rubinstein in Paris. Also increasing in popularity is pigskin, usually with the edges left natural. According to Bruat, the French use American imports when they need strong skins, French for softer skins. It's the first time leather and suede have been so popular for summer.
Some French designers are so committed to the return of the female shap, they've rounded out the look with padding. Claude de Luca has added falsies in both the bust and derriere. Karl Lagerfeld sometimes pads the peplum to exaggerate the tiny waist and rounded hip look.
The French who have outgrown their skatebords are switching to roller skates.Instead of slipping along the corridors of the metro or skating on the plaza by the Palais du Chaillot in front of the Tour Eiffel or skateboard hill in the Trocadero Park, skating clubs have sprung up to accommodate the growing number of amateur skaters. There's been a run on skates at La Samaratine ($145 a pair with shoes). What do you wear to rollerskate? Essentially the same things as the skateboarders - pads on the elbows and knees and if you're a crasher, a helmet.