NEW RECRUITS: Five limousines in Paris are ferrying some of couture’s newest recruits: 14 American women here for a fashion extravaganza organized by Judy Price, the founder and former owner of Avenue magazine. It’s the 10th year she has brought “women with means” to discover the “magic” of couture, and this time, more than half of them come from California, a first. Price mused that it’s no doubt the result of couture’s heightened presence in Hollywood, and all the new wealth in the entertainment and media businesses. “I’m so excited to be here,” squealed Jennifer Smith Hale, 27, of Santa Barbara magazine and a high-fashion first-timer. Other California girls here include writer Pamela Beck, co-author of “Rich Men, Single Women,” and Laura Siart, a “non-practicing lawyer,” who says she’s “simply interested in seeing the clothes.” Their “haute” field trip began Sunday with a lunch at the Bristol and a dinner at the chateau owned by linen titans Francoise and Marc Porthault. Also on the agenda this week are private shopping visits at Hermès and Chanel, meetings with the heads of Cartier and Christian Dior — and, of course, the shows.

STAGE LEFT: The edgy Paris graphic design duo Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustinak, or M/M, who art directed Paris Vogue until last fall, have traded pages for stages. They’re creating sets for “Antigona,” an 18th-century opera by Italian composer Tommaso Traetta. It will debut in Montpellier in May and move to Paris this June. “It’s a first for us,” said Amzalag. “But it’s a Baroque fantasy, which is perfectly suited to our work. The sets will be totally black and white.”

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