Where do I begin!? What an incredible dream-come-true moment it has been to have been able to participate in, and attend Haute Couture week here in Paris. Honestly, it’s beyond a dream come true because I don’t think I ever even allowed myself the freedom to imagine such a wild fantasy could actually become a reality. I remember it was only a couple years ago that I was watching Fashion TV back in my little home town in the Rockies, watching Jeanne Beker running around and attending all of the incredible shows in Paris and being whisked away in the backstage madness of it all. At that time I had no idea how anyone got to that position… how do you even get invited?! Who do you have to know to get to go to Paris and what do you have to do to have met the right people to get you to the right people to get you into the shows in Paris?! At that time, I definitely had more questions than answers and I guess in a way I still do. The only difference now is that my questions have grown and changed as a result of my experiences, as have I.
But wait, hold on… did I just casually slip past the question of how on earth does a person find themselves at Paris fashion week?! My apologies dear reader! I wish I had a simple answer for you, but the truth of the matter is that there are a million ways you can find yourself at Paris fashion week. The true question you must ask yourself is “in what capacity do I wish to experience Paris fashion week?”. By this I mean, what do you want your involvement to be? Do you want to be front row wearing an outfit sent over to you by the designer earlier that morning? Do you want to be rushing from one show to the next with your notebook working for a magazine? Are you a Buyer for a large retailer? Are you writing articles? Are you a blogger? Are you looking for editorial pieces? Are you a client? Or are you just in the mood for some shopping? – You see, the questions go on and on. Once you are able to identify WHY (there is no right or wrong reason) you want to be in attendance and what your purpose/intention is, it becomes much easier to start to map your route there.
After one night’s rest after the wrap of Men’s Fashion Week, we plunged right into Couture on Monday! What an incredible morning, bright and early rushing off to see the gorgeous gowns at Tony Ward.
Tony Ward’s collection was mesmerizing with impeccable detailing in his beading and appliques. The craftsmanship of his collections was undoubtedly credited to his wealth of experience as a couturier, including work with Gianfranco Ferré at Christian Dior Couture, then with Karl Lagerfeld at Chloé and with Claude Montana at Lanvin. (Are you salivating yet, cause I’m slack-jawed just thinking about it!) For more on Tony Ward and to see a look-book of this year’s Couture collection click the link below.
Huddling through the rain to get back to the office, I had a few brief moments to reflect on some of the incredible gowns I saw. I took way more photos, but honestly they would have done the collection justice, and frankly the dresses that I saw that I liked the most I have the worst pictures of because I was so breathlessly excited! After managing a frantic lunch and quick cafe, myself and one of my darling Parisienne colleagues accompanied one of our heads of press to assist in the Pre-Pre Show prep for the uber talented Charlie Le Mindu.
Charlie Le Mindu, considered the master of “Haute Coiffure”, has an innovative, daring, and avant garde approach to couture, hair, and everything in between. He is incredibly sweet and soft spoken, but with a deep sense of calculated brilliance that is bubbling just beneath the surface. It’s no surprise that this attitude and personality are what landed him on the Observer’s Coolest People list. Aside from working for the obvious big name fashion magazines, his personal client list includes none other than Ms. Avant Garde herself, Lady Gaga and Sri Lankan Brit diva MIA. (!!!!!!!!!!!) Le Mindu’s show was a delicious canvas of under water creatures, black light mystery, and ultra sex appeal as his collection was modelled by an incredible troupe of dancers who moved mesmerizingly down the runway.
For more on Charlie and to see the complete look-book for his Couture S/S 14 collection, click the link below.
With the first day of Couture safely under my belt, I returned home to slip into an exhaustive stupor of sheer exhilaration, joy, and disbelief at all I had seen and experienced. Back at it bright and early the next day, we started our morning at the office, then quickly off to the beautiful presentation of Ilja Couture.
Dutch designer Ilja’s collection was a beautiful balance of femininity and architectural strength. Crediting her tailoring skills to her time spent working with Donna Karan, Ilja expresses her talents through both a Couture and a Pret-a-Porter line. The collection was shown by means of an elegant presentation where buyers, press, and clients could view and photograph the collection at their leisure nestled in the comfort of the salon of a luxurious hotel. Guests sipped white wine, or orange juice while Ilja herself would take a model aside and discuss the details with you.
For more on Ilja or to see the look-book for Couture S/S 14 collection, click the link below.
Because it was a presentation, the duration for the show was over two hours so thankfully we all got the opportunity to scurry off and pick up something quickly to eat. There was an unbelievable Japanese restaurant around the corner, and I was so shocked to discover that out of the 5 of us, only myself and my Taiwanese friend could use chopsticks, and the others didn’t know anything about Japanese food other than steamed veggies and chicken. One had never eaten rice before! Our Taiwanese colleague was so thrilled to get to help teach everyone things about how to eat properly, how to use chopsticks, and how to mix the rice with your chicken. It was such a funny experience amidst such gorgeous clothes.It just goes to show you that you never know where you can learn something new! After the show, the rest of the group headed off to the Julien Fournie show, while myself and another colleague had to head back to close up the office. Because of the number of assistants, we were each required to miss two shows over the Couture and Men’s Wear weeks.
My somewhat “early” night was greeted by an even earlier morning as I made the mad dash to the office before the Zuhaitz show. When I got to the office I was sickened to find it empty! Only two girls (who’s turns it was to stay back at the office) remained and greeted me with a puzzled, “Why are you here? You’re supposed to be at the show!”. Because I had missed the show the night before it appeared I had also missed the update that we were no longer meeting at the office but meeting at the show location! Frantically we tried to call everyone to get the address, and finally I was running out the door.
I made good time on the train, but as I am still so new to the city, I am often emerging from Metro lines I have never taken before, into areas I’ve never seen and trying to find locations which have rendered even my Parisienne colleagues a bit turned around. Needless to say I ended up wandering up and down the streets trying desperately to find a sign, but not go too far in one direction or another hoping to save time. I asked several people for help but no one appeared to know the area. Finally, (and a helpful tip to young ladies travelling) I found a kindly old gentleman who was waiting at a bus stop. He spent 5 minutes looking up things on his map for me and was beyond kind and helpful. He talked me through the whole journey from where I was to where I needed to be. What an incredibly appreciated kindness! After running down more winding twisting streets, but with full confidence that I would end up at my location, I suddenly recognized everything! If only I’d known just a couple more details! Lesson learned for next time. The great thing about getting to explore the city in this way is that I do get to see so many off the beaten track places, and am really gaining a new sense of the city, which I absolutely love! I arrived at Zuhaitz before the show and still on time to help with the pre-show set up. *phew!* For more on Zuhaitz and the complete look-book, click the link below.
From Zuhaitz, to dashing through the courtyard at the Louvre, a quick lunch at Starbucks and off to the second show of the day!
Arriving at the Shangri-La in Paris for the Charlotte Licha Couture show was incredible. Over the top, lux, with the perfect views for guests of the hotel, the Grand Salon was the perfect setting for the collection. Born and raised in Beirut, designer Charlotte Licha’s collection was bright, over the top, and beautifully tailored. Drawing a crowd just as colourful and luxurious as her collection she received a raucous applause for her finale. To see the complete collection or for more about Charlotte Licha click the link below.
After a late show with Charlotte Licha, our team had a press conference later that evening at the Galliera Museum, where yes, we got to have a private after hours viewing of the Azzedine Alaia exhibition. And yes I’m still dying to wear every single one of his incredible pieces! I never in all my life would have thought that I would be able to see up close and personal any vintage Alaia pieces. After studying him in length at my school at Blanche Macdonald in Vancouver, I had a deep and profound respect and appreciation for the artistry and innovation of his works. It was even more powerful having the incredible opportunity to walk amongst his clothes completely alone and in the silence of my own imagination.
After the conference (which was incredibly insightful), I ran off to meet a dear friend of mine for dinner. We gorged on cheese, meat, bread and red wine. Did I mention that I’m lactose intolerant and have a sensitivity to gluten?? Did I eat like it was my last day on earth?! Absofriggenlutely. And every single bite was like heaven!!!!
The next day was our final day for Couture. Serkan Cura was the first show of the day and we were therefore very pressed to be on time. Meeting at a gorgeous old theatre, we were soon whisked into the backstage where the pieces were absolutely breathtaking. After all of the incredible shows I’d seen thus far, I feel a twinge of guilt proclaiming that this was the show I had built up the most anticipation to see. Having met Serkan briefly earlier in the week, it was easy to see why this charming man had secured the couturier contract to design and construct the wings for this year’s Victoria Secret Fashion Show. For more on Serkan Cura and to see the full Couture collection click the link below.
The show left the audience speechless but for their cheers and deafening applause. Words still escape me when describing how it felt to witness the incredible artistry of the pieces and the magic in his presentation. Cast-away and into the sea, Serkan Cura’s pieces took on an incredible life while showcasing his impeccable use of materials like porcupine quills, feathers, and hair.
I am still in awe of the week I have had here, the incredible people I have met, conversations I’ve had, locations I have seen and of course the incredible artistry of these amazing designers. I have a newfound respect for designers in this industry, and it has been a rare privilege to be able to see some of the best of the best. There is a reason Paris is at the top of the food chain and it has become transparently evident to me why that is after seeing the thought, time, production, and vision it takes to create these mega brands and these stunning collections. As a creative person who adores art and anything imaginative I have been in absolute heaven these last two weeks. There hasn’t been a second of any day working that I have felt annoyed or ungrateful at any of my experiences. Yes, I’ve been that annoying ray of sunshine that was beaming down the street in the rain. Why? Because I’ve just been to a Couture show, and it’s raining and I’m in Paris! And I’m walking down an incredible street with gorgeous architecture all around me and chic people hurrying past me, and all day I get to speak my favorite language in the world and talk about art and fashion, beauty, collaborations, and ultimate creativity. There is no such thing as a rainy day when you’re living your dreams.