Monday, June 17, 2024

What Paris Fashion Week is Really Like

A Fashion Blogger’s View

Paris Fashion Week and fashion bloggers seem to go together hand-in-hand. Men’s fashion blogger and Francophile Grant Fellowes is in Paris for Fashion Week, the second time in a year.  We asked him to give us taste of what it’s really like to be there.  Here’s his take on what goes on.

Most people view the fashion world as a faux glamorous lifestyle, effortless chic full of shallow people, living a life of endless brunches and who have a wardrobe full of designer threads.

Paris Fashion Week
Photo: Matthew Sperzel:Getty Images. Image: E! Online

That’s what it looks like from the outside. And from what you see on Instagram and other social media platforms you’d be correct. But don’t believe everything you see there.

What you don’t see are the huge teams that bring a show together. The logistics behind the scenes are enormous: the headsets, the hours of prep, the ateliers sewing models into gowns, hair and make-up teams, photographers sitting or standing at the end of a runway for two hours before a show, the real heart at the centre of the industry.

There are a few things to know about Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week. There are two levels of couture. These are:  Fédération de la Haute Couture and the brands that have been invited to show their collections from all around the globe in Paris. There are also two levels or types of patrons attending these shows. The first level involves your A-list celebrities, fashion industry people and the extremely wealthy who have either bought their way in, one way or another, or who are invited due to their connections. The second is the bloggers, influencers (or as I learnt, they call themselves “socialites”) who are there predominately to be seen and self-promote, a wide array of media and die-hard fans of beautiful fashion. I fall into this category.

Paris Fashion weel

In both categories of couture, shows are invite only. If you’re in the second group like me, you’ll need to spend hours applying to press offices and designers to receive invitations. That’s even if you have received accreditation. Accreditation means nothing.  People beg, plead and bribe their way into shows.

If it’s an Eventbrite event, it’s likely not worth going to.

The big shows or parties are invite only. Shows never start on time.  Always allow an extra hour or longer for the last diva to take their seat or for more photographers to arrive before the show commences.

Be prepared to fight the crowd. Upon entry everyone stampedes to get the best seat, best angle, best spot to be seen. There is always a self important person who throws a tantrum, enters the room 3-4 times to be seen, who will push and shove you or elbow you to get what they want. Whoever you sit next to will probably ask for your Instagram handle and then stalk you for the coming days.

Most in attendance are dressed and styled for the show in the current designer’s collection to gain “street style” photos and publicity as they enter and leave the venue. Often, their designer threads are rented.

There is rarely any food or drink in sight at shows unless it’s a cocktail event, in which case stand back. The villagers swoop. Make sure to stay hydrated as you run between shows. If your schedule is 4-5 shows a day, you likely won’t eat which will help with reaching your goal weight.

A lot of influencers – apologies -“socialites” hire their own photographer to follow them around all day to take shots of their perfect life. What is marketed is not reality. Be prepared to be looked up and down and judged. It’s not an arena for the faint hearted or the slightly self-conscious.

From Grant's GFash Instagram handle
Making Insta connections in Paris

The must-have arrogant accessory of the season is the wireless iPod earphones that demand you do not talk to the wearer.

As much as all of this carry on may be hysterically funny, there is magnificent side to it all. The real people who show their heart. It may be photographers who adorn caps for a show to support a designer. Or the middle aged woman you give your seat to as she has travelled so far and she’s grateful and can’t thank you enough. It could be the press contacts who welcome you with a smile, personal chat and helpfulness. Or the designer who has the most wicked sense of humour and a laugh that deserves its own ringtone. It could be the model who gives you a wink as she struts past you on the runway. And then there is the blood, sweat and tears that you can see have gone into a collection that completely mesmerises you.

The fashion. All that creative expression to tell a story through garments, to celebrate unique style and to create one’s own innovative and unique pieces that take days and days of work.

If you are privileged, like I have been, to find and connect with some of the real people at the heart of the industry, you’ll have an amazing time. Their enthusiasm is contagious and the memories will last a lifetime.

Grant Fellowes enjoying Paris Fashion Week

Follow Grant on Instagram

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