Michael the III recounts Paris Fashion Week—and his search for a missing pearl earring.
This year for Paris Fashion Week, I lost a pearl earring. Of course it would happen to me. It always happens to me. It’s not as if I don’t have enough to worry about, with having to fit 14 outfits back into one suitcase. And it was such a lovely earring too, half a set. What does one do with just a single pearl earring? Pierce their navel? Call it a button? Wear an asymmetrical hat? I can’t even pass it down to my ancestors. “Oh father,” they’ll cry out, no doubt as fussy and ungrateful as their progenitor. “What have you done with the other pearl earring?” That’s a damn good question, my child. What have I done with it?
My stolen earring (it’s just easier to assume the worst) was definitely affixed to my auspicious lobe seven days ago when I arrived at my Paris hotel. Ask any of the members of the nomadic fashion crowd placed in the lobby that evening. It would have been hard to see it in that dim, candlelit atmosphere—and with all those drinks being served too! But it was there. I know so because Harold McManny, senior fashion editor of Seafood Daily (a big fan of mollusk designers) made a remark about it.
But the following morning—the first day of Paris Fashion Week—my earring was gone. Only one sat in the pretty, pink box. I went back to bed, still on North American time, still dizzy from the night prior and still unsure how to pronounce the name of my newly acquired bedmate (G-e-o-r-g-e?). I laid there naked and stunned when two hoarse, hungover voices shook me into action. My neighbors (Anny, the Romanian pop star of Touch Me (But Not Right There) fame and James Orson of YouTuber-Pomeranian fame) were heard saying, “Something, something Grand Palais.” I shrieked in a way that crossed Carrie Bradshaw with Chewbacca and jumped into my first outfit of the week: a “purposefully” wrinkled white Margiela suit. I was late! Of course I’m late. It always happens to me! Oh, don’t mind me, I’ll just step right in front of you on my way to my seat. Did your Birkin always have those foot-marks on it? Do you always come this early? Me neither.
Halfway down the elevator I remembered I hadn’t kicked out my boy George, nor had I remembered to accessorize. I know what you’re thinking: I could end this right here and right now, but George is not to blame, and who steals just one pearl earring in a suite of designer goods? Must I recount the pathetic list of things to do with just one pearl earring?
The honor of Paris Fashion Week’s first show went to Tartemucha. Oh stop, you know Tartemucha. He’s very famous. This season he sent girls down the runway in faux-leather hats—the silhouette of those that children fold from paper—and fringed crop-tops tickled the models’ bellybuttons. The designs didn’t exactly tickle me, however, at least not all the way back in the second row. Legendary editor Lola St. James sat nearby and she didn’t appear very titillated either. Under her three layers of sunglasses, two Hermès headscarves, one peek-a-boo bang and everything shaded by an oversized, undersexed fedora was her trademark expression. We must have similar tastes, I thought, flipping my imaginary top-knot ponytail into the drink of the lady behind me.
One does wear so many outfits during fashion week that one forgets just what they wore and when. Thank goodness for the invention called Instagram Stories. I should have checked that sooner. What did we do before? I suppose we kept diaries. And a fine thing diaries are if you have to spend all your time jotting down every detail of your wardrobe just to assess the whereabouts of a pearl earring.
Day Two: I wore Prada head-to-toe, except butt-to-crotch I wore Versace. Oh, the after-party was just wonderful. Simply a ball! It couldn’t have been better, only I ate far too many shrimp cocktails on account of not feeling the least bit drunk. What ever happened to a good, stiff cocktail?
Day Three: I had a lovely time stuck in traffic. The car beside us contained the entirety of a K-Pop boy-band—all 23 of them! Went to four different shows together. Heard some nasty gossip about myself which only means I’m getting more famous. Oh, diary, Paris is lovely!
Day Four: Can’t possibly write today. I moved on to Mimosa cocktails. They’re far stronger than the shrimp ones.
Day Five: Shows I loved today? Custard Muck, Lans y Peeters, Buysse Couture, Ilaria Dorchester Foo and Cocoa Channel. Shows I hated? Everything else. I’m going to a bar with models I met in line for the bathroom, only it turned out to be the line for the catwalk. I nearly made my runway debut. Talk later, gotta go!
Day Six: I keep having the same dream. I’m sitting there (front row). It’s dark. Loud. Minutes before showtime. Everyone is speaking excitedly although I can’t understand a word. I’m wondering when the show will start and whether (on account of my hate for being interrupted) I should start a conversation or go on sitting and blinking. I finally whisper to the person beside me, “Did you hear that—“ when the lights go up and I am forced to only add one sentence here and there, in synch with the forward march of the models. What does this mean? Oh and diary, I still can’t find my pearl earring.”
The last day of fashion week came I had accepted my pearl earring was gone forever, though I concluded, without doubt, it was probably once owned by a figure like Audrey Hepburn, for it was very special. This realization dampened my being. Oh sure, I purchased it at a Canadian flea market, but one never knows.
After the week’s closing show I waited under the Arch de Triumph. The rain had just started to tearfully drizzle when I was asked by a member of the French television press to share my opinion about the last collection. Ever a professional and using my best knowledge of the langue Français, I hid the sorrow and stated: “En masse, the mise en scène’s trompe-l’œil motif showed true savoir-faire and joie de vivre in the designer’s début. Don’t forget, he went from protégé du jour to élite entrepreneur with full financial carte blanche in under a year. The papier-mâché gowns were avant-garde objets d’art with a mélange of silhouettes one should only describe as au naturel. The décolletage was risqué yet never clichéd, which can so quickly become a faux pas or worse, gauche, especially with models who saunter with such blasé ennui. I did, however, get déjà vu upon regarding the encore of last season’s négligées. Still, the designer is no doubt a connoisseur of the provocateurs before him. His remembrances of their couture œuvres, his souvenirs of seasons past staged a coup d’état on the lingerie genre that was part femme fatale, part Belle Époque. I felt like a voyeur! Expect to see his dernier cri in all boutiques next fall. And if anyone has seen an antique pearl earring circa 2013, very likely to have been once owned by Joan of Arc, Catherine the Great or Cleopatra, DM me!”
Just then, I caught my reflection in the lens of the camera. Could it be? Was that really you after all this time? Oh, of course this happened to me. It always happens to me. Just let me worry about something for an entire week and then let me find out it never mattered. Just let me delete all those desperate tweets and then we can get something to eat. I searched everywhere in Paris, but not the mirror!
“It was on my ear the entire time,” I texted George. Paris Fashion Week was a success!