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09/02/2006 - par Mark Tungate

When I recall my early career, which took place in a tiny local newspaper office filled with cigarette smoke and elderly alcoholic journalists, my current life in Paris seems almost impossibly glamorous. Recently, for example, I was asked to cover the men's catwalk shows (défilés) for a British website.

Before you dismiss me as a smug bastard who likes to show off (even though that accusation is perfectly true), I'd like to add that there is a media point to this story. Catwalk shows, as everybody in the fashion business knows, are media. If you put on a good show, and get as many pictures in the papers as possible, it saves you a fortune in advertising. That's why fashion brands stage the most spectacular events possible, and rarely advertise on TV.

John Galliano's menswear show was pure show-business. Based in what seemed to be a huge warehouse, it featured a science fiction backdrop and swooping mechanical machines spouting steam and sparks. The models walking under these things looked terrified. Elsewhere, Givenchy's suave Ozwald Boateng filled the top floor of the Centre Pompidou with arty colours.

But for sheer scale, you couldn't beat Belgian designer Raf Simons. He'd decided to stage his show at the very top of the Grande Arche de La Défense. The problem with this was that there were only two elevators, so the world's fashion press had to queue up outside in sub-zero temperatures. Sometimes, you can take the idea of cool a bit too far.

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