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Sweeping statement of a love affair with bling - Times Online

It would not be Paris without the distant rumble of discontent. So when the cherished haute couture shows of France - those twice yearly celebrations of ultra-bling - got under way yesterday with the usual ode to extravagance at Dior, the French media continued to grumble ominously about their President Bling-Bling.

There may be an irony in this. Or there may not. The French mentality does not appear to have any difficulty drawing a distinction between vulgar-for-the-sake-of-it vulgarity (Sarkozy and his supermodel girlfriend/fiancée/wife) and work-of-art vulgarity produced by honest artisans. Perhaps that is why Marie-Antoinette, the original Madame Bling, got the chop and Rose Bertin, the architect of some of her most flamboyant frocks, lived to dress Josephine Bonaparte.

Perhaps the truth is that French culture does not have a problem with vulgar clothes so much as with the people who wear them. All that really matters is that couture remains a proud flag-waver for the nation and, as of recently, one that is sort of making money.

According to Le Figaro sales are up 30 and 40 per cent at Givenchy and Lacroix respectively; Chanel has increased production - if that isn't too prosaic a word for something that can take hundreds of hours to hand stitch - by 20 per cent, up from 350 pieces in 2006. The number of couture houses may be down from 106 just before the outbreak of the Second World War to six today but France can hold its head high.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:04:37 AM EST
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