Hollywood stars outshine the catwalk glitter as fashion joins the entertainment industry


Fashion has now become a division of the entertainment industry. Those who attend the twice-yearly international shows are sure to receive just as much attention as what is presented on the catwalk.

When celebrities turn up at the collections in London, Paris or Milan, their presence endorses a designer's authority.

Front rows today are carefully assembled and thoroughly scrutinised. Just as most major design houses now employ publicity agents in Hollywood to promote their clothes among the acting community - Italian labels such as Armani, Versace, Prada Cerruti and Gucci have been particularly assiduous in this field - so they take considerable trouble to entice stars to their shows.

Designers are conscious that a few famous faces dropping by will guarantee plenty of publicity.

In Paris this season Christian Dior set the pace thanks to the presence of Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck at Tuesday's show.

Competition became more intense yesterday. Among the obvious contenders for title of the day's best-attended collection was Emanuel Ungaro; seats here were reserved for actors Anouk Aimee, Sophie Marceau and Marisa Berenson, as well as opera singer Samuel Ramey.

Sadly, the clothes, presented on a field of real grass strewn with wild flowers, were not as glamorous as the audience.

There was disappointment too at Yves Saint Laurent, where not even the designer's most loyal supporter, actress Catherine Deneuve, whose new film, Place Vendome, has just opened, could be found.

And at Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, traditionally dependable for a front-row frisson, this time offered nobody of real note. Those in need of a fame fix were obliged to turn to fashion's favourite photographer, Mario Testino, now as well known as his subjects, and McQueen's early advocate Isabella Blow, dressed in a black leather and green snakeskin Givenchy suit topped with a vertiginous Philip Treacy feathered hat.

So, winner in yesterday's celebrity stakes was the house of Chloe, at which the designer just happens to be Stella, daughter of Sir Paul McCartney.

Rather poignantly this time, following Linda's death, Stella McCartney's father came alone but was joined by Simply Red's Mick Hucknall and the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant, along with French actress Beatrice Dalle.

The audience filed out with a gratifying sense of having been at the day's most high-profile event.