Paris hosted the of haute couture shows again last week. And, as in seasons before, the holes left by the various couture labels whose high fashion business has dwindled in these less-than-stellar economic times have been filled by a long list of other chic and fabulous happenings. Like what? Miu Miu presented their resort collection (one of my favorite of the season, very mod, very girly, lots of navy blue) and then hosted a lavish dinner and private Jack White concert. Nearly all of my girlfriends hosted parties for their various fashionable enterprises: Eugenie Niarchos had a cocktail party for her line, Venyx; Noor Fares had a party for her eponymous jewelry collection; Bianca Brandolini and Alexia Niedzielski collaborated on a bikini collection. French Vogue hosted a dinner and dance party – Cecile Cassel lead the charge, and was fabulous – that may well become Paris’ version of the Met ball.

Of course, there were the shows too. Dior’s show was held in a specially constructed bubble of walls made of white orchids (Diorchids, we wondered?) and started with elegant, voluminous gowns before moving onto decadent fur coats and long, minimalistic evening jackets. I won’t soon forget Giambattista Valli’s show, especially the long, oversized evening dresses at the end. And this was one of my favorite Chanel shows in recent years. In a preview with Karl Lagerfeld, he showed that the materials were actually a specially created form of concrete embroidery. Only he can combine concrete and couture, and finish the show with a pregnant bride that looks as chic as ever.

Not that anyone needed an excuse to come to Paris in the summer, but the girls were out this season. I’ll never forget Jennifer Lopez marching into the Versace show in her all-white one-legged evening dress. Or, should I say glowing in? Emma Watson looked fabulous at her couture appearances, mixing ladylike lace at the Valentino show with androgynous tailoring when she joined us at the Givenchy table for the French Vogue party. I fell hard for Dakota Johnson too, the future star of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, who was in town for the Chanel show. (So was Jared Leto, hubba hubba.) Dakota was staying at an apartment near me, and the two of us bonded with our mutual buddy Emily Ward over the eating and drinking habits of the locals. But perhaps the most unexpectedly wonderful mashup was me, Alexa Chung and Mos Def, tablemates at the Prada dinner. Thanks, Miuccia!

Another cultural delight is visitin the art shows in Paris. The Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Grand Palais was astounding. It closed the week we were there, and the art gods were smiling on me that I managed to see it in its final days. As I paced the galleries, I thought how impressive it was that he managed to find pieces of heaven in what may have looked like hell to everyone else. The Gagosian’s Le Bourget venue, which is just outside Paris, has a fabulous show called ‘An American in Paris’ on, the centerpiece of which is Jeff Koons’ Balloon Swan (Red), which my friends stared at for a few hours wondering if it was playful or sexually graphic.

But my favorite part of couture week was doing what I love to do in Paris: Being a tourist. Like going on the ferris wheels and the swings at the carnival in the Tuilleries, strolling the streets of Paris, shopping the soldes, drinking hot chocolate at Cafe Flore, and sweating out the hot chocolate while dancing at tiny, most likely unsafe dance halls. It’s my favorite city and my favorite week of the year.
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Captions, from top: A stroll in the Tuilleries; Karlie Kloss at the French Vogue dinner; me and Jared Leto at the Chanel show; looks at the Dior show; Grace Coddington and Marc Jacobs at the Miu Miu show; me with Mos Def and Alexa Chung at the Miu Miu party; even the puddles in Paris are chic; fanning out with Emily and Dakota at Le Montana; Jennifer Lopez making her grand entrance; Kendall Jenner, Harry and Peter Brant, Jamie Bochert, Kim Kardashian and myself at the French Vogue party; Joan Smalls and Anja Rubik; Jourdan Dunne on the Versace runway; Daria and me at Kaspia; Alice Dellal and Poppy Delevingne at the Chanel show; the view from the Grand Palais on a summer’s day; Jean Paul Goude and Glenda Bailey at the JPG show; the scene at French Vogue’s dinner; me, Joan and Karlie posing off; Miles and Lily at Silencio; the Brant boys; Jamie at the Givenchy table; Cecile Cassel killing it; Vanessa Traina and Alexander Wang; Natasha Poly giving me a cold shoulder and a sexy back; Jeff Koons’ Balloon Swan (Red) at the Gagosian Gallery in Le Bourget; a detail of the Koons piece; a wall of portraits by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Grand Palais; Mapplethorpe’s self portrait; having English breakfast tea on a rainy Paris afternoon; Bianca and Carine at the Miu Miu party; Dior’s wall of white orchids; Douglas Booth at the Prada party; Isla Fischer and Sunrise Ruffalo; Jack White performing; Gemma Atherton; Kristina O’Neill at Kaspia; Daria and Kristina having a laugh in the Marais; backstage at Giambattista Valli; Franca Sozzani with Eugenie; Noor Fares; Kendall Jenner and Marjorie Gubelmann at the Chanel show; Jamie and her friend Sofia; Uma Thurman and Miuccia Prada; exiting from the Dior show; an unexpected air show at Le Bourget; Langley Fox, Daria Strokous and Leigh Lezark at Silencio; fun at the fair; wishing Patti Wilson a happy birthday; a night with the boys, Paul, Alessandro, Riccaro, Dani, Kevin and Seb; me and Paul Aziz on the swings; me and Miuccia Prada; Caroline and Dakota