Experience the whirlwind of Paris Fashion Week: A day in the life, the runway moments, and the post-show networking hustle.
On the day of my first ever Paris Fashion Week show, I woke up in Spain. It was 3 in the morning as I slid into my skirt, touched up my hair, and finished my last-minute packing. It was four when I got into the plane. 6, maybe 7am, when I landed in Paris, snuck into the airport’s bathroom, and changed into the clothes that I would later be wearing to attend my first ever Paris Fashion Week show.
There was very little glamour in how it all started. Whilst many upper-crust attendees have stylists and entire teams deciding their outfits weeks (or even months) in advance, I had trusted the wise council of my mother and a few close friends when it came to my last-minute outfit picking. I had no hairdresser doing my hair. No makeup artist touching up my foundation. And because I had flown that very morning, I had four arduous hours to kill in Paris, wearing heels, until my first show started.
By the time the show came around, I was tired. I was also early, something which I soon found out was actually not even necessary – fashion tends to run late – but my organizational anxiety took the best of me anyway.
Understandably so, the place was easy to find. The queue (that spanned the entire block) was full to the brim of people in interesting looking garments, and the herd of photographers looking to snap the hottest “PFW street style” shot could practically be heard an entire block away. In my elegant, but not necessarily exciting outfit, I joined the queue and quickly befriended the girl behind me. Unlike me, she had been allocated to standing, which I soon realised is a type of access some fashion brands grant to, say, students, or last minute attendees. She exuded a certain poise, a quality I soon discovered to be quite common among the fashion crowd. What stood out, however, was her radiant smile, something far less typical in that environment.
Because of our different tickets, we were separated at the entrance. I showed the security guards my invite, and I was directed to find a seat with my full name and a press release laying on top. I recall the seating space being quite tight, something which became a recurring experience throughout the shows I attended.
Every attendee, depending on their perceived rank of importance, was seated in different positions. The fancier looking people, those that were dressed to be photographed, were granted front row seats at prime points in the runway. Whilst I was glad to be front row, I was tucked in a corner, which meant that although I had a great view towards the people on the other side of the runway, I was less fortunate when it came to seeing the clothes.
I found the start of the show to be rather abrupt. Perhaps it was because a lot of people were talking, and I had expected some kind of introduction (although I am well-versed in runways, and should have known better). Instead, the music began to play and gave everyone less than a few seconds to reach out for phones, cameras, or filming devices. Everyone wanted to capture the runway opening.
Runway shows tend to last around 20 or 15 minutes, which often surprises people. Both if you’re watching from home, or from the runway itself, it’s not a lot of time to absorb what you’re seeing – let alone pay attention to the small details. What you get to notice instead, is the ambiance; from the models, their chosen walks, the music, the venue, and the essence of the clothing. All of these are, of course, aided by the press release you usually have plenty of time to read beforehand as you wait for the show to begin.
And then, just as quickly as it started, it ended.
The end of the show is when the networking begins. From influencers wanting to take photographs (because if they aren’t pictured, they obviously weren’t there – right?), to business venturers reaching out to people, they might recognise; the moment the runways draw to a close is when the attendees come out to play. Unless you are part of the media, that is. If that’s the case, you’ll probably be rushing off in your Fashion Week transport to your next runway.