There is, of course, a hierarchy in the world of glamour.
#GlamLife Flow Chart
First, you have the local fashion shows where designers are stars in their homeland, then, several notches up is , say, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show that has become a pop culture event and #modelgoals for young beauties to strap on a thong, 5 inch heels and giant wings and stomp their fiercest game for six million viewers. (This year’s show is November 28th on CBS if you were wondering)
Then there are the big shows. And, among cities that have become iconic for atelier royalty – New York, London, Milan -with their whirlwinds of designers, supermodels and sunglasses-wearing-front-row celebs, Paris Fashion Week is top dog.
Paris Street Steeze
Any day of any year, Paris is teeming with a kind of style and fashion oeuvre that has cast it in the role of king of the fashion world.
On the Metro you might find yourself squished against a woman in her 60s emanating effortless in a button-down shirt, popped collar, tailored trousers and red lipstick. Or, you might be at a traffic light beside a twenty-something in barely-there make up and a cheap (but not cheap-looking) coat over her skinny jeans as she cycles along the Seine. Le sigh.
But, when it is officially Paris Fashion Week, Holy Karl Lagerfeld, triple-snap, it is on.
The ratio of high-style to normal people skyrockets. The streets are crawling with dazed models, over-dressed posers hoping for a street-style moment with the Sartorialst, annoyed publicists, celebrities and their entourages.
I was in Paris on a Sunday morning a couple of months ago when I ran smack into one of the biggest events of Paris Fashion Week, the L’Oreal Show. The runway was a spectacle of lights and music in the middle of the Champs Elysées. The Arch de Triomphe and the moody Parisian sky served as the magnificent backdrop. It was glamour in all it’s glory.
Barricades were lined with camera-thrusting giddy voyeurs as far as the eye could see. On the giant screens they’d erected for the plebes, images cut between the ring-side audience, backstage flurry, and the catwalk. Big name models wore big name designers. Jane Fonda tottered her way in a leopard Balmain dress. Helen Mirren stole the show.It was spectacular.
We have been trained to aspire to this, non?
Without these multi-million dollar (seriously) opulent displays of fantasy, fashion and beauty, starring (mostly) impossibly thin young models and clothes with price tags for the 1%, the fashion industry would not have the caché it now enjoys.
Before you start yelling at me, yes, many of these designers are artists and cultural influencers. Their skill is to offer style and looks that make us feel something. But, at what cost?
But, there’s a notable change of mood.
I stood there on the Champs watching Paris swirling in it’s most natural state; the models are more beautiful in real life than their photoshopped images imply. Designer clothes are full of nuance and structure and colours that (sadly) you don’t find on a department store rack. A jacket might cost as much as a car.
But it could be that the people closest to the most expensive and beautiful clothes money can buy don’t look that happy, beyond the lights and cameras. Once the music was turned off and the applause died, everyone took a bow, the actors in that show all returned to their normal face. The happiest people seemed to the be ones like me, watching it all unfold.