Saturday, 7:15 a.m.
Contrary to the popular belief held by those who’ve consumed alcohol the night before, 7:15 a.m. is a pretty nice time to be awake in Paris.
I’m up to catch up on the work I missed while traveling yesterday and to start to chip away at deadlines due next week. If I learned one thing from last February Paris Fashion Week, it’s that there’s always less free time to get work done than you think. My first appointment is at 10:30 a.m., so I’m what the French call, “concentrating.”
I’m a little anxious…
Done-ish, enough to go get breakfast at least. Spencer, my boyfriend, is here for the weekend and he’s helping to keep me on schedule. We go to a kind of weird place that’s definitely a tourist trap, but a croissant and jam is a croissant and jam, you know? I am still a little anxious. I think it’s the combination of my impending schedule and not totally knowing my way around and not having all my ducks in a row. But still, Paris. Also, I spot Alber Elbaz and have a moment of feeling designer-star-struck, which I didn’t think happened to me? Just when you think you’re cool!
I’m at Magda Butrym, where the collection was inspired by Dolly Parton (please let this theme continue). I fall in love instantly with the ruffled sleeves, padded shoulders, hot pink and red silks and rhinestones but… THE SHOES! I love one pair of tall boots that were about my height in particular, and some heels with removable puffy bows. It’s all so eighties; in the wrong fabrics, could very well be tacky. But these textiles are luxe and the draping is like “UGH!” and it’s all so good. Clothes like these make me wish I were a different kind of person, more balls-to-the-wall in how I dress.
The world’s greatest cab driver, Yusef, has picked me up and is singing along to “Lady in Red.” He wears a very nice baby blue cable knit sweater. We bond over classic 80s music. We are instant friends and my brain does this thing it did last time I was here where it shouts super loud, “HEY AMELIA, MAYBE YOU SHOULD MOVE TO PARIS.”
Altuzarra, though staged in the middle of La Couple, a brasserie that’s apparently a real establishment here, brings me back to New York for a moment as I’m seated between a few friends from back home. I’m not constantly with friends here in the way that I am during NYFW, so when I do run into them, it’s nice. Someone almost always has a portable phone charger, a snack and a hug.
Altuzarra’s collection reminds me of New York, too: glen plaid and pinstripe suits, a trench, a cozy shearling coat. My favorite items are the dresses: one purple dress in tie-dye velvet with a sort of modern-medieval neckline, a few with ruching and off-the-shoulder sleeves (but only if you want — choose your own adventure) adorned with glittering metallic paillettes. It’s not capital F fashion, but the collection has style. Pair with that Altuzarra’s pin-sharp tailoring and its wearer will instantly feel like she has her shit together.
I just dropped Elle.com’s Nikki Ogunnaike off in a cab where we spent the ride chatting about how much the industry has changed since our intern days (a lot). I ate this little cake while she spoke, scooping out the inside, leaving its chocolate shell, which I offered to Nikki too late to actually be considered polite. She declined (it was kind of gross) and then had to go. Bye, friend!
Soon after, at Natasha Zinko, the designer plays with the concept of a working, successful woman who isn’t defined by her job, but rather by all the pieces that make up her personality, which she may only reveal here and there.
Then I try on these weird sunglasses that make me look like an alien.
I quickly stop by Mira Mikati for a burst of rainbow color and a go-kart/carnival theme, then I head home to charge my phone and meet up with Spencer, who has spent all day eating his heart out at the Musee d’Orsay. I visit the museum vicariously through him as I swipe through photos of Rodin’s sculptures on his phone.
The lot of us walk through the Tuileries at an impressively slow pace because we all have to stop and take about a million versions of the same photo. The lighting was good so no complaints. Once everyone gets a new profile picture, we part ways.
Spencer and I are posted up at Cafe Flore with Sophie, my friend who suggested the earlier spot. I’m taking this opportunity to push through emails, but since I am the only person on my phone, I wrap far more quickly than I would have if we were in New York. We’ve crashed Sophie’s drinks with her friends and overstay our welcome until about 8 p.m., when I have to run to Sonia Rykiel. Spencer stays; he’s very French now.
Jet lag was just about to hit when Sonia Rykiel wakes me up. The show concludes with two loud confetti-exploding POPS! Models laugh and dance down the end of the runway. Then Bananarama comes on to sing and champagne is passed around. It is a celebration of the label’s 50th anniversary and a joyful tribute to the late iconic designer. The clothes themselves were both fun and very “ready-to-wear,” nothing so FASHION that everyone couldn’t enjoy them, save for the four fluffy-hatted snow monsters that opened the show in tandem. My favorite look was a green glitter dress on a model who charged the runway in thigh high boots with a caramel-colored bolero.
It should be time for bed, but instead, it’s time for dinner. We eat, though nothing major, I am sorry to report, then around 11:30 p.m. we take a long walk back to the hotel. My feet hurt but it’s worth it; it’s easier to see the sights on foot.
Sunday, 12 p.m.
Following a rainy morning spent debating where to eat in-between emails and some work for Hotel MR (!!!), I stop by the Tome presentation to see Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin’s latest collection. It’s inspired by the artist Tschabalala Self, and though she wasn’t in the room today, she appears in the lookbook. I love this collection, all wide legs and clashed patterns. I think my favorite, if I had to choose, is the layered plaid look that features accordion pleats that are practically camouflaged in all the pattern.
Time is starting to blend together. After Tome, where I run into Tamu McPherson, who is best-dressed dressed for the rain in a clear Maison Michel hat, I have a re-see at Nina Ricci, where I discover details I didn’t catch from my seat, like the corduroy texture of a gray suit (apparently the brand does corduroy every Fall/Winter, which I did not know) and the crinkle effect on a white silk dress.
Time for Valentino. First thing to know is that, while everyone dresses up for every show in Paris — talk about the best of Sunday’s best — the crowd before and after Valentino come attired in head-to-toe full looks. (I’m still in my outfit from this morning, and I dressed for the rain. The weather’s since taken a turn for the sunny. Damn these chic women and their chic foresight.) When the show begins and the models start walking down an unpretentious, simple runway, I understand the crowd’s impulse to dress accordingly — even if that meant running home to change first. The clothes are so artfully crafted, so beautiful in a way that seems specific to Paris (that’s my romantic side writing, let it happen) that, as a viewer, I want to blend into the scenery, absorb into the world of Valentino, and pay respects.
The collection itself is a fairytale fantasy but not so fantastical that it’s absurd. Mostly, the fairytale is in reference to the little red riding hoods that come in a variety of colors, and the gowns that give proper use to the word “ethereal” — which I’d previously, in my own writing at least, embargoed. The rest of it is simple; not “easy” simple, or basic simple, but experienced, sweeping, painterly lines with just the right amount of bells and whistles.
After meeting up with our roving street style photographer, Simon, to stage a photo for this story, I head to the Marais to meet my friends where I drink two negronis and eat vegetable pizza with a side of spaghetti bolognese. Weird combo but whatever, it’s the weekend. I have two-and-a-half-hours to kill before Thom Browne and my phone’s dead, so I charge it behind the bar (which means no checking email) and forget about fashion week for long enough to process it.
Feature image by Simon Chetrit. Photos via Amelia Diamond.