When I arrived in Paris the other week I went straight to Xuan-Thu Nguyen's atelier and boutique in the Marais to pick up my invitation to her couture show. There was such an excitement in the air on the eve before her collection and it was the perfect welcome back to Paris. The BBC was there filming an interview, photographers were shooting a model walking in one of the looks - a most exquisite pair of nubby black trousers with a jacket that I will soon show - and an embroiderer and a knitter had come up from the busy atelier downstairs to complete the last of the pieces. There was a palpable intensity in the air as there was still so much to do, yet everyone who had a stake in the following day's event offered a smile and a 'Bonsoir' and Thu herself - stressed to the gills - was as sweet and hospitable as ever as my excitement about the collection nearly bubbled over into some kind of embarrassing mess.
As I waited to speak with Thu I was occupied with, or rather fixated on, these gorgeous roses in glass bottles that were scattered on the floor in her front window around the base of an installation that Thu later explained had been on display in a gallery in the Louvre. The roses were dead; the yellows had faded and the edges browned while the lilacs and purples were still saturated with colour, and the combined effect was romantic and lovely. I took pictures of this calm little haven when I felt I wouldn't be interfering with the goings-on by doing so. Thu told me almost apologetically that the flowers were alive when they were brought in but I thought the look was intended. Without seeing them alive I thought I most certainly preferred them dead. The same doesn't work for food, though. I forgot about a slice of brie in the fridge once and I'd for sure say it was better when it was new.