I woke up every hour on the hour. I had been invited to Paris Fashion Week and did not want to miss that early Eurostar heading from London to Paris. We had a pleasant channel crossing and were in the ‘City of Love’ just after 9am. Thankfully my husband has worked and lived in Paris and was there to help me negotiate the RER and Metro. I felt surprisingly calm for such a momentous day. Fashionistas and influencers were all around us as we walked to the hotel and the photographer’s flashes were blinding. People were smiling and turning to look at me as if asking, ‘ Who is that? Is she important?’ I now know how it feels to be a part of it all, an Anna Wintour or Olivia Palermo. It is quite surreal and other worldly.
Just after 10am we found the majestic hotel La Maison Champs Élysées where the shows were being staged. We knew we were in the right place because Patrick Pham, one of the designers, was just outside the door. Fan girl moment number one! He looked calm and confident. I guess all his hard work was done and now all he had to do was wait.
We entered the beautiful lobby to see mannequins and ornate chairs in black and white to coincide with the fashion theme.
We were very early but were directed to the second floor where the shows were being staged. Ornate rooms reminiscent of Versailles greeted us amidst a hive of activity. There were darker rooms with bench seats and in the middle, a Grand salon with chandeliers and ornate gilded chairs.
A smiling musician was tinkling away in the salon, quietly practising his tunes.
Not wanting to intrude my husband left to do some work of his own. I was left downstairs, by myself, in a pure white reception room preparing for the 11am start. Soon bloggers, writers, fashionistas and celebrities began to fill the room. Many were air kissing , using the distinctive French double kiss. Lots of people seemed to know each other and I listened in as they talked about the shows they’d been to previously, names like Dior, Schiaparelli and Australian designer- Azulant Akora were bandied about.
I was relieved to see I was not the only one in black. There was another dark haired lady in a cold shoulder black dress and some younger girls in lovely spotted skirts and tops. Everyone sported a designer handbag! Another big tick for me. I felt right in my ensemble which gave me extra confidence.
Just before 11am people began moving towards the elevator to have their names ticked off the list. The beautiful girl who was welcoming guests (I like to call her my French Eliza) was so pleased to meet me and suddenly Romain from Mephistopheles was there bidding me ‘Bonjour’. I was a little shell shocked as this was the man who had invited me here. He had made my dream come true. I don’t even remember what I said to him!
I was given a number and instead of being herded in with the media pack as I was expecting, I was led to the second row of the Grand Salon, not standing in the corner or on the bench seats. Michelle from SheSociety in Brisbane, Australia was sitting on a gilt chair behind the A-listers in the front row. Can you imagine how fast my heart was beating?
The second row were allowed to sit in the row wherever they wanted. The first row were ushered to designated seats. They all sported designer fashion of every kind, but to my surprise some people were in shorts and tees or jeans and shirts. It seems like anything goes at fashion week from the seriously opulent clothing to some outfits I would only wear to the beach. Many wore designer sneakers. A lot of people I spoke to had been running from show to show and if you don’t make it before the doors shut you are left outside. Sneakers give you the edge.
I was in the company of some of the most beautiful people I had ever seen but also many people from all over the world of every different shape, size, age and style. I reminded myself that I was an invited guest so belonged there as well. Sitting next to me was a fashion illustrator who noted that I was a fan of Dior. Dior had given her the first opportunity to illustrate for them and she had been to many Dior shows. She was friendly and kind and this seemed like a good omen to me.
I soon learned the Fashion Week fan. It is quite hot waiting for the shows to start and everyone uses their invitations as a fan or many have very beautiful fans of their own. I will be looking for a beautiful fan to call my own.
Suddenly the absolutely beautiful music started. It reminded me of the ‘Amelie’ soundtrack and was performed by pianist composer- Vivian Roost. A hush fell as the first beautiful model glided into the room.The model’s hair was piled high in an ornate plaited updo and the make up on all models was eye catching with eye shadows of every hue streaming past each model’s eyes as if they were tears. The click of the photographers alerted you to the approach of a new model each time they entered the room. They glided along gracefully but it all seemed too quick for my untrained eye.
The colours, textures and embroidery of Patrick Pham’s fashion was truly breathtaking. We gasped to see the light pink gowns mirroring the colours of lotus flowers. These were some of my favourites. Patrick wowed the crowd with blues reminiscent of the dawn sky in summer, of red chilli and of the green in the rice- fields. All the colours of Vietnam and his childhood had inspired the French Patrick Pham for this, his 4 Seasons Collection. Highlights were handmade embroidery, pearls on silk, on cashmere, lace, velvet and tulle. Patrick Pham loves tulle. And of course there was black, in spellbinding evening gowns fit for a festive night, made to caress the flesh of chic but also cheeky women. The piece de resistance was a stunning ivory gown paraded by a model with alabaster skin and glossy red hair. The elaborate train trailed in her wake and I was not the only one gasping in astonishment. All too soon the models were parading for the finale with a smiling Patrick Pham in their wake. This collection was a hit.
Patrick’s beautiful Haute Couture is for the woman who likes to wear creations which are lightly sculpted and shaped on her body. The dresses favour movement, freedom and luxury and are made of gossamer embroideries.They are made for a society woman, a woman in the society. Perhaps they are made for a woman from SheSociety. I left the show wanting more. It had happened so quickly. I needed to watch it again to take in all the sights, sounds and textures but alas it was over.
And yet in the afternoon there would be more. I was coming back more knowing and more comfortable to the show which spoke to my heart- Maria Aristidou’s Serendipity.