Runways are just fifty percent of what goes down at Paris Haute Couture. Street style is the other fifty. You’ve seen what went down at the Viktor & Rolf runway, but here’s what was going on outside.
It was a gloomy week for haute couture in the French capital. The weather was by no means in the festive spirit that haute couture calls for, but attendees and onlookers alike did not seem to care. Gawking at Anne Hathaway at the afterparties, or Kylie and her Schiaparelli Lion head, the weather may have not been shining… but street style fashion certainly was.
It was sometime around 16 in the afternoon, rush hour to Parisian standards. We’d made it to the Ópera Garnier, one of the city of light’s most iconic Neo-baroque buildings, nestled in the 9th arrondissement amongst two busy arterial avenues. It was a peculiar location choice, barely shielded from the ongoing traffic, which was visibly interrupted by the runway’s attendees and curious tourists, all piling up to see what on earth the fuss was all about. In turn, the cars beeped and angry drivers frowned at the mayhem.
“I think someone famous is inside.” Some woman whispered to her husband, nonplussed.
She wasn’t wrong. Olivia Palermo and Noah Cyrus were amongst the attendees, but no-one was quite as stand-out as Doja Cat. With her bedazzling Swarovski number, she was back with yet another headlining fit, somehow becoming the queen of this haute couture week. Having been criticised for her lack of eyelashes in her previous fashion show makeup look, the singer had decided to wear them galore; as a moustache, beard and eyebrows. Her extravagance matched the Viktor & Rolf show impeccably, and granted her an excitable group of admirers hurdled at the doors of The Intercontinental to whom the pop-star’s irony did not go unnoticed.
Something one doesn’t quite realise about fashion shows is that they are incredibly short – barely a twenty minute long performance, usually. Equally, however, they tend to run late. This often means a lot of waiting around (in this case, out in the Parisian winter), especially for those who haven’t scored one of the ever-so-exclusive invites, but who still want to enjoy the buzz of the event. Besides the curious onlookers who happen to stop by on their way to tour the Eiffel Tower, larger shows like Viktor & Rolf attract a fashion forward crowd, wearing vogue independent designer creations.
For the Viktor & Rolf show in particular, the crowd bet on a lot of dark streetwear. Bomber jackets, cargo pants and sunglasses (which in light of the rainy weather, were merely an accessory) populated the streets. It wasn’t a show which beckoned particularly colourful garments, most sticking to subdued palettes of blacks, browns and piercing browns, but variety was found in materials and textures.
Although not always the case, the crowd’s street style relished in accessories, with many attendees wearing headpieces or hats to accentuate their looks. Some were particularly avant-garde, with sculptural swirling feathers – others interpretations of the stereotypical Parisian beret. Amongst some of the most popular colours for stand-out garments was a popular deep royal blue, which we saw in the form of accessory accents or even entire elegant gowns with sculptural plissé.
Somehow (miraculously) it didn’t rain as we waited for the show to end. It ran relatively on time, or at least that is the impression we got, as the crowd thinned and only those present for the fashion stayed behind. The honking on passer-by cars did not cease though, but with attendees already inside, we began looking at each other instead, taking in the diverse fashion attires of the ones left to brave French cold.
Inside, as we chatted, one of the most talked about shows for Couture Week was taking place as photographers, journalists and aficionados alike delighted in the bizarre creations.
Amidst talks with several attendees (which you might have seen on our Instagram), I found myself falling into conversation with one of the hotel’s workers, who was on her way home after finishing her shift. She looked at all of us waiting outside with curiosity, telling me she had initially thought we were there for some kind of movie premiere.
“We weren’t told the fashion show was happening,” she tells me. “but it’s quite exciting, isn’t it?”.
I beam back at her, high from the energy and positivity of everyone surrounding me.
It certainly was.