The fashion month

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The bizarre murder of Gianni Versace took fashion bloodily centre stage this month as haute couture reeled at the loss of its most flamboyant practitioner. But the shows (especially those of Versace's natural heirs, McQueen and Galliano) must go on, as must the shoots, quotes, sales and cover girls. Read on for our monthly round-up of the fashionable world

Oxygen

A breath of fresh air or in need of some...? You decide

"I just wanted a souvenir."

Miami tourist who tore a page from his magazine and wiped it on Versace's dried blood, the Independent

"He was mesmerised by the blue nail polish on my daughter's toenails."

Madonna on Versace, Time Magazine

"Michael, it's good to have you in London."

Journalist to Prince at the Berardi show, The Face

"No bag? How modern!"

Karl Lagerfeld to an empty- handed Liz Tilberis, Harper's Bazaar

"I said, this is couture darling, you've got to be able to do it."

Alexander McQueen to frazzled atelier staff, the Evening Standard

"She teeters down the street in a McQueen gown and Philip Treacy hat, and the builders are gob-smacked."

A neighbour tells on Isabella Blow, the Evening Standard

"She's the sort of girl who still orders a glass of vodka and orange with her pasta"

A fellow socialite on Gossard Girl Sophie Anderton

"A woman finds herself again in a situation where she's not a German refugee."

Manolo Blahnik on the return of the stiletto, Harper's Bazaar

Who said what

Vogue ran a three-pager called "Fascinating Facts" where celebrities were asked lots of pointless, er, pertinent questions. Among these was "What is your favourite cheese?" Match the celebrity to the answer and you could win a whole new sense of purpose.

A Solange Azagury Partridge, jewellery designer

B Annie Morton, model

C Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, "It" girl

1 Dairylea

2 Cheddar

3 Wensleydale

Answers: A 2, B 3, C 1

Fascinating!

Business

News

The majority of high-street shops have gone straight for 50 per cent reductions in their summer sales. One of the wettest Junes on record was blamed for a dismal season, with floral dresses, sheer blouses and geometric prints the least popular buys on the high street.

(Source: Drapers Record)

Menswear company Ted Baker will be floated on the stock market for pounds 56m, netting its founder, Ray Kelvin, around pounds 37 million.

(Source: the Independent)

Marks & Spencer has bought 19 of Littlewoods' largest stores for pounds 192 million, showing great confidence in itself and the future of high-street shopping.

(Source: The Guardian)

The idiosyncratic boutique owner Lucienne Phillips is to shut up her Knightsbridge shop after 23 years in fashion.

(Source: Daily Telegraph)

Laura Ashley chief executive, Ann Iverson, has stunned the City after admitting she had over-estimated public demand for the fashion chain's spring/summer stock. She caused further upset when it was revealed that she earned more than pounds 1 million last year.

(Source: Daily Telegraph)

The department store Debenhams is to be demerged from its parent company, the Burton Group, and will be a separately listed Stock Exchange company next year. The rest of the group, including Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins, will be reorganised into one single company. (Source: the Evening Standard)

Couture Shows

IT WAS NO SURPRISE that the British press reported mainly on its enfants terribles, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, in its coverage of the Autumn/Winter 1997/8 couture shows in Paris. McQueen was once again the bad boy, with rumours that his art director, Simon Costin, had used human remains in the show reported in the Guardian and the Sunday Times - whether this was a publicity stunt by Givenchy or some mischievous gossip by a rival house is open to speculation.

The Independent called McQueen's Eclect Dissect show "pure theatre", while the Telegraph described it as "a tribal cavalcade of exotic furs, features and skins... all paraded to a jungle soundtrack." The Times declared that his collection "softened the Paris establishment's attitude toward him" while the Guardian described it as "McQueen at his brilliant, anarchic best." However, Colin McDowell in the Sunday Times commented "I came away with the conviction that Alexander McQueen is still one of the potentially great designers of the future, but it seems that he has still not got the measure of couture." The International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes was tepid: "Heaven knows, couture needs energizing, but its fundamental point is to make women look wonderful, not weird."

Galliano's show, held in a specially built conservatory at the Parc de Bagatelle, got rave reviews. In the Sunday Times, McDowell described his clothes as "not only showing the hand of a master, but also unlike anything created by anybody else in the world", while the Guardian commented that he "expressed his elaborate vision of femininity to the full". In the Standard, Mimi Spencer quoted Alexander Shulman as saying, "Probably the most beautiful evening dresses I have ever seen."

For the best of the rest, the Telegraph praised Versace as "the man who can turn a hemline into a headline quicker than you can say That Dress" while the Guardian told us that "Chanel, the world's most famous fashion house, did not disappoint" and reported that Yves Saint Laurent "sent out one perfectly restrained outfit after another in an immaculate show which earned him the first standing ovation of the week."

Bits 'n' Bobs

This was the month when models got all arty. The Tate's star-studded centenary bash was sponsored by Chanel, said the Standard. The Times described how the art and fashion mondes grew ever nearer with an exhibition at The Vine in London. On show was "art" donated by models, including Iris Palmer's nude works, Helena Christensen's photography and Sophie Dahl's poems.

Fashion designer William Tang injected a bit of excitement into Hong Kong Fashion Week with his controversial collection. According to the Independent, models had hypodermic syringes sticking out of their clothes. Tang countered HK criticism with "they are merely witty accessories that depict the real Hong Kong".

Harrods launched a clothes range for dogs, reported the Times. The Barking Mad label includes formal wear, evening attire, rainproofs and party frocks.

Janet Street-Porter, poor lamb, fell prey to Fleet Street's bitchy clutches when she announced a Christie's auction of her old clothes, scheduled for September. ("Any takers for my old rags?" asked this paper). Meanwhile, Sotheby's in New York is to auction the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's personal possessions, a development the Guardian described as "bizarre".

The Independent reported that Claudia Schiffer "was paid to appear at the event where she first met the US illusionist David Copperfield". The story broke in Paris Match, which claimed the model signed a pounds 200,000 contract to pose as his girlfriend. Copperfield is now seeking pounds 20 million damages, said the Telegraph.

Hollywood "superphotographer" Matthew Rolston has been pinching ideas from British photographer Sean Ellis, said the Independent. It seems Rolston's En Vogue video was a dead ringer for an Ellis photo-shoot in The Face. "Young talent get their ideas stolen by established talent who are too busy to come up with their own ideas," said Ellis.

Fifteen thousand people saw Yves Saint-Laurent's new haute couture show in their dressing gowns this month as the French designer went on line at website "http://wmlive-.com/fashion/yslonline" enthused the Telegraph. Yes, but did they fashion-kiss the screen?

Who shot what

Exotic shores were swapped for the more sedate pleasures of the English seaside, with Vogue and the Independent On Sunday shooting flippers and snorkles alongside the latest beachwear.

As the weather gets colder, so skirts get shorter. Ah, the beautiful logic of fashion. Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Elle featured the return of the micro. And Dazed And Confused ran a story on Japanese, mini-skirted, schoolgirl prostitutes which looked just like a fashion spread.

Profiles: Antonio Berardi in the Independent, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in Vogue, Sophie Anderton in the Sunday Times, Jasper Conran's Bordeaux life in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Miuccia Prada's Milan villa in Vanity Fair, Slim Barrett and Karen Elson in the Telegraph, Issey Miyake in the Guardian Weekend and Mario Testino in the Evening Standard.

Cover girls: Karen Elson got horny for The Face, Kate Moss "gets the horn" for i-D, Helena did Elle, Georgina Grenville graced both Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

The return of high heels: Vogue, The Face, the Evening Standard and the Independent Magazine all staggered in stillies.

For menswear, three-button suits were tested by Time Out's unlikely lads, GQ shot a Shampoo-inspired spread, the Sunday Times Style section went for the feminine look and Paul Smith's Jaggeresque collection got the thumbs-up in the Independent.

Tales of The Expected: Sophie Dahl, model-turned-celebrity, turned up everywhere - she was a vamp in The Face, a rosy-cheeked countryside gal in the Observer's Life, answered the Going Out questionnaire in the Times Directory, was the subject of an adoring shoot in the Times magazine and wrote a restaurant review in the Telegraph Weekend. This, all despite Grace Bradberry of the Times tactlessly calling her an "outsize model".

White came out on top as the colour for Summer. GQ featured young blades in white shirts, i-D ran an essential guide to white while the Guardian looked into white's Zen image, man.

Oh yippee, wearable, sensible grey is back, as seen in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and the Telegraph, although Elle, perversely, favoured red ("after all those greys!")

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