Those of you who read the profile on me in the Sunday Star Times‘ Sunday Magazine in the weekend might have noticed the following pull quote in bold:
“I really regret not breaking a news story that I got in Paris”
The news story I was talking about was just a little one involving Gareth Pugh (pictured above) taking over from Kris Van Assche (below) as head designer at Dior Homme.
Let me tell you a story.
It was the night of the Galliano show at Paris Fashion Week, and for some reason there was a two hour break between it and the previous show, which had been Givenchy. The air temperature was floating somewhere around the diabolically freezing mark, and we hadn’t eaten anything in at least eight hours so we decided to hop off the bus and get some dinner at a small bistro around the corner from the Galliano venue. We were in a dodgy part of Paris and said bistro was filled with all sorts of dodgy characters. One of the staff was an older woman who smoked like a train while cooking our meals, not caring that her ash was dropping into the deep frier, the bread basket, the drinks, wherever it could go.
When our meals arrived, the older lady proceeded to tell our table that this was her “erotic year”, the reason being that she had just turned 69. We laughed politely, trying not to choke on our ashed up meals.
After dinner my table of four went downstairs to use the facilities. Toilets are a rare commodity in France so you have to use them when you get the chance. The little boys room was full and it didn’t look like it was going to let up anytime soon, so my other male dining companion (a 24 year old English journalist) and I went to the ladies. We’d been waiting for about five minutes when a young Japanese journalist walked in the door. He and the Brit were friends, and they started chatting.
According to him, Gareth Pugh was replacing Kris Van Assche as head designer at Dior Homme. How did he know? He worked for Vogue Hommes Japan which had recently done an interview with Pugh or Assche (my memory fails me) and the scoop had been revealed to the magazine during the course of the interview (the issue hasn’t hit shelves yet).
My heart started racing, I hadn’t heard a scoop that big in all my life. At this point though, I was faced with a dilemma. I’ve been a Dior Homme fan since the early Hedi Slimane days. Who hasn’t? I was gutted when I heard he’d been replaced by Kris Van Assche, of whom I’ve never been a great fan. I’ve been meaning to say this for a while, but when his first collection for Dior Homme came out I really liked it. It was clean, well tailored and full of quirky detailing like shirts with fully pleated front panels. I may have been alone in my view though, because almost everything I heard from fellow fans and critics was negative.
So my problem was this: I really really really wanted to go to the Dior Homme show on the final day of Fashion Week. I’d requested a ticket but had been refused on the basis that New Zealand isn’t an important enough market for the brand. I was still holding out hope that I’d turn up on the day though and make it into the show. That said, if I called them up and asked for a comment on whether Pugh was replacing Van Assche, my prospects of seeing the show would be greatly lessened.
So I didn’t do anything.
The day of Dior Homme I did everything I could to get into the show. Everything. To no avail. And the Dior staff weren’t even nice in their refusal. Why didn’t I cause a scene and get all hardline journalist on their asses, asking them all sorts of questions about the takeover? I was exhausted and didn’t really feel like generating that sort of negative publicity for myself at my first proper international fashion week.
So I sat back and wished I was watching the show – it turned out to be a great one, the best Van Assche had ever done with the brand.
The next day I found this article on Fashionista, which identified the rumour.
Everybody had started really thinking something when Delphine Arnault, daughter of Bernard Arnault (CEO of LVMH) showed up front row at Gareth Pugh’s show. That was the final show of the week. I’d heard the rumour two days earlier.
And now Grazia is saying this:
“It’s true! Gareth Pugh IS taking over at Dior Homme. The rumours started when Delphine Arnault, the daughter of LVMH head honcho Bernard Arnault sat front row at his debut menswear show in Paris, and now we’ve heard from well placed sources backstage at Louise Goldin that it’s a done deal. No official from LVMH yet but we’re expecting the announcement that Gareth is taking over from Dior Homme’s current designer Kris van Assche any day now.”
Rest assured if I find myself in that situation again, I won’t hold back. Believe me or not, what I’m telling you is the truth. In my career to date, it’s the one that got away. And it was *this* big!