Saturday, 2 October 2010

Fashion War

People tend to say it in an overexcited tone, like it was Christmas. I guess there is a certain Christmas quality to it: the progressive unwrapping of new collections, the amazement at the sight of beautiful things, that special feeling on the street, the parties... I used to view it as a kind of fabulous holiday too, until I actually started working in fashion.
How come Fashion Week feels now more like the Gettysburg battle? Why is it a sort of whirlwind of crazed frenzy? Here are some things you may not know about Fashion Week if, by chance, you are not a fashion insider. In case you are, then you only know all this too well.
Fashion Week's ambivalent feeling of panic/excitement actually starts a couple of days before the first show, when taking a look at all the invites. In my case, I get delivered all my mail by the magazines I work for on the evening before day 1. It usually comes in a XXL bag that has broken under the weigh of its contents and (to go on with the Christmas parallelism) it makes me feel like an overwhelmed Santa Claus. Everything is there, from covetable, lovely invites I wasn't expecting (Gaultier, Rykiel, Dries), to the classics and my favourites (Rick Owens, Gareth, Yamamoto) to up-and-coming designers, to parties, exhibitions, showrooms and other events. Just one look is enough to feel exhitarated, but also to know it won't be humanly possible to attend everything...
So roll on FW Day 1 (actually, Day 2, as Day 1 is generally kind of laid-back and relaxed).
8:00 AM: I am already up, swallowing everything I can find in my fridge (I know there are chances I won't be getting much food during the day), trying to get some writing done and trying to put together a cooler-than-cool outfit, my very own FW camouflage. I vacantly stare at all my shoes. Do I actually own a pair of comfortable shoes? Not really. After trying on about 30 pairs of impossible heels, some little voice in the back of my head reminds me of the excruciating pain I suffered the last time I spent a whole FW day wobbling 15 cm away from the irregular macadam of Paris. Ok, I will just wear a pair of cute brogues. I know Tommy Ton/Facehunter/Sartorialist won't be very thrilled by my overall look, but I have the feeling that my body will thank me for this gesture, sometime when I'm about 80 years old.

10 AM: One thing I would love to know about Paris Fashion Week is why if the first show of the day took place in Montmarte, the next one takes place in Montparnasse, and the next one in Champs Elysées, and then the next one in Bastille. in other words, why must we spend the day running to the very opposite side of the city? If I had a black Mercedes with a driver this wouldn't bother me at all, but as it (still) isn't the case, I can choose between the "Fashion Bus" (which is pretty much like a school bus except people wear Rick Owens tops and Miu Miu shoes instead of dungarees and Reebok Classics), which gets filled very quickly, or the Metro (which in Paris is not very nice. Actually it's rather nasty, people give you dirty looks if you are not dressed in a completely "normal" way and these days there are constant menaces of terrorist attacks. Cool). Then there are taxis. But you have to be a pretty lucky egg to find one in this city. Oh well.

Once the transport issue is solved and as I finally get to the show's venue, a flock of photographers and bloggers starts shooting in my direction. It's time to strike a pose as if I was the most fabulous person in the world, even if it's starting to rain, I realize I have forgotten my umbrella and I can feel my hair slowly blowing up and making me look more and more like Europe's lead singer. My telephone rings non-stop: do I have a spare invite for the next show? Am I going to the last show of the day? Do I have time to meet with friends who are here from London? That reminds me I have my share of phonecalls to make. Will my battery last for the whole day?

1 PM: Fashion Week is really about the shows, isn't it?
That's the bit I still find (and will always find) incredibly exciting. The moment the catwalk lights up, the music starts to play and the first model appears is really thrilling. Always. Then there are, of course, some extra special shows which have the power of giving you a true adrenaline rush and you actually never forget them. I can remember some of them, like Gareth Pugh's first Paris show, Alexander McQueen's Plato's Atlantis and almost every Rick Owens show. I have no idea what makes the difference between a good show and an unforgettable one. I suppose it's a bit like films.
4 PM: I still haven't had lunch and I'm starting to feel tired from running from show to show. I'd give anything just to have an éclair au chocolat... The telephone rings and wakes me from this sweet reverie. Of course it's one of my editors inquiring about an article I have to submit asap. I regretfully start thinking of the work that's piling up at home. A group of fashionable people to my right is gossiping about a group of fashionable people to my left: "He looks like he wants to be Grace Jones", "he goes around criticizing our magazine", "she's so common", "he's all washed out". Ah good old fashion fauna! Luckily I have a group of lovely friends, so I get back to them... and we gossip.

8PM: as we wait for the last show of the day to start, someone breezily tells me "oh by the way, there are 3 parties tonight, I guess you're coming to all of them?" What!? I'm exhausted and starving, and I have to get back home and write a review on each one of the 8 shows we just watched... By the way, which shows did we watch?

Well, you can imagine after 8 days like this I feel rather dazed and confused (and that not having been to New York, London or Milan). But then the next Fashion Weeks comes and I go on and do it all over again. I guess I can't help it. I guess after all, just like everybody else, I am a Fashion Week-aholic!


  1. Ca me rappelle quand même des bons souvenirs tout ça ;)
    C'est drôle parce que j'ai même pas pris le temps de lire ton article jusqu'ici (ni n'importe quel post sur n'importe quel blog depuis quelques semaines, ma façon de gérer le temps=trash), et là je réalise que celui que je viens de finir hier, a quand même quelques choses en commun... j'imagine que j'ai piqué un peu de ta sagesse, sur Paris!

    Et, au fait, j'adore cet article.
    Et d'ailleurs où est fini l'article sociopolitique espagnol? Je me réjouis de le lire, celui-là!


Thanks for your lovely comments.