The parades are spectacular and the after-parties are unforgettable. However, hotel nights are very expensive and getting an invitation is almost impossible. Our fashion correspondent Catherine takes you to Paris Fashion Week and tells you what really happens during the world’s most glamorous week.
Twice a year, that is, 6 times if we count the men’s fashion and haute couture shows, the City of Lights hosts the famous Fashion Week. Paris then turned into a huge open-air circus, from the Palais de Tokyo to the Place Vendôme. During these few days we discover future trends, see celebrities, meet Anna Wintour and it is impossible to find a hotel room (without bedbugs) for less than €500. It is a fact that of all Fashion Weeks, Paris is the most prestigious and exclusive. The most famous fashion houses such as Dior, Vuitton and Chanel exhibit their creations in the most magnificent venues. Unless you’re a celebrity, influencer, buyer or well-known journalist, there’s no point in trying to participate. Unless you work in Flair’s Fashion department!
Also read: Plus-size models were less than 1% on last Fashion Week catwalks
Let’s be honest: As a fashion correspondent for a modest Belgian magazine, you don’t have a front row seat. Invitations to major fashion shows are rare and usually distributed by market. Unfortunately, a small country like Belgium is at the bottom of the list. To have a chance at receiving an invitation, you must put your fate in the hands of the most powerful person in Paris: the public relations manager who manages the guest list. To do this, you send him an email explaining why you deserve to attend this or that designer’s fashion show. Of course, “We regret to inform you that we cannot host you at the fashion show. »
Some people will do anything to get an invite… even cheat!
But as Plato said, necessity is the mother of invention! There are other ways to get invitations. It’s like a bartering trick: One person holds an invitation and swipes through, while the invited person registers by giving his name and passport. Two for the price of one! And then there’s identity theft, which is commonplace. Indeed, many assistants of famous stylists or fashion journalists behave like their very busy bosses. Sometimes an invitation disappears from a colleague’s mail, and according to a recent article in The Cut, there’s even a black market for front-row seats at Balmain or Balenciaga, with shady PR experts charging thousands of euros for the invitation.
Key to parades
Since I am too poor and at the same time too honest to pay 3000 euros for a fashion show, I decided to request the S/S24 fashion shows via e-mail, as in previous seasons. After receiving a few polite rejections, I was delighted to receive a positive response from Leonard Paris. Of course, Leonard isn’t the most exciting brand, but I love the sixties prints and jet-set atmosphere of this French house. So I hop on the Thalys towards Paris for a fashion show of long dresses and floral prints. The parades always start late, so I stay outside and people watch before they start. Nothing could be more fun than seeing the it-girls arrive in their most extravagant outfits!
Here we discover future trends, meet Anna Wintour and it’s impossible to find a hotel room for less than €500.
Next to me, a young Parisian is watching the event with wide eyes. He asks me: “Do you know how to join the parade? » I explain to him that I am a journalist and show him my invitation. He was impressed. As I prepare to go in, I think back to my first visit to Milan, when a Lifestyle friend invited me to the Max Mara show. In a burst of self-sacrifice, I turn around and say, “Come with me and act like you belong.” » The press officer at the entrance checks my seat number and allows us to pass. I wink at my new patron in the room: He’ll stand in the standing section, and I’ll sit somewhere in the third row. I tell him: “Enjoy the parade”, I’m happy for him and my karma.
Bus, show, no show
“No sleep. Bus. Club. Another Club. Another Club” these are the words Lady Gaga said during an interview. Replace the word “club” with “show” and you get a summary of the European Fashion Week program. We rarely sleep or eat. Leonard After the finale of , I jumped straight on the bus to go to the next parade. Spanish fashion house Loewe, which has reinvented itself under the artistic direction of designer Jonathan Anderson, organizes a fashion show at the Château de Vincennes, about half an hour from the city center. This fashion show is held every year in Paris Moda. One of the highlights of the Week. The only downside: I don’t have an invitation. Luckily, I’m not alone. A friend, the co-founder of an online fashion magazine, is waiting outside.
It’s rare to sleep or eat during Fashion Week.
We see influencers like Léna Situations and Caro Daur pass by fashion icon Anna Dello Russo and singer Troye Sivan. But the most famous people avoid public appearances and have their drivers drop them off at the entrance. I see Kris Jenner; mom! – but sadly I miss Charli XCX and Robyn. The dream ends when the show begins and the first drops of rain fall from the sky. My friend and I decided to take an Uber back to the city. I get dropped off at the hotel and pack a pack of cookies into my room. My first meal of the day. Then I post a few Stories for Flair and switch while my phone is charging. It’s 2pm but it feels like 2am.
I only see Kris Jenner; mom! – but sadly I miss Charli XCX and Robyn.
Showrooms and scams
Appointments are scheduled at the showrooms in the afternoon. Since fashion shows are quite expensive events, many small brands choose to open showrooms during Fashion Week. There, journalists and buyers will be able to discover the next season’s collection in advance. I go with my colleagues from Vif Weekend to the showroom of Bernadette, a Belgian brand known for its hand-drawn floral prints. The showroom overlooks the Eiffel Tower and the furniture is covered in a romantic Vichy pattern. The best of Paris.
Fashion Week gets really fun when it happens at night!
One floor below, as I admire Brussels designer Marie Adam-Leenaerdt’s runway collection, the bandages on my feet begin to peel off and I realize that vintage Prada low heels might not be the best shoes for a fashion marathon. Luckily my day is coming to an end – or at least the official part of it. Because when night falls and the showrooms close, Fashion Week becomes really fun. Hello to after parties!
A wise woman once told me that getting invited to a party like this will get you into the fashion world better than any fashion show, and she was right. After all, nothing says more than a free glass of champagne. It’s also much easier to attend after-parties, which is definitely nicer. If it’s too easy, remember there’s a problem. For example, our gang was allowed to attend the Chloé cocktail party at the legendary Silencio club without any problems. With one condition: Pros had to pay a €30 entrance fee. Immediately after we said it, barely 30 seconds later we realized we had been scammed. We weren’t in the right Silencio.
If Chloe had been the only thing on the agenda for the evening, I would have quietly returned to my hotel after the Silencio scandal. But there’s always a party waiting for you in Paris, and not just any party: Coperni’s after-party, a young French brand known for its sexy cuts and trendy accessories. Does the Discman bag mean anything to you?
For the first time in my life, I don’t have to stress about getting in and I can proudly shout: I’m on the list! The whole queue turns and smiles and answers: “We too.” To make matters worse, the person guarding the entrance to the club turns out to be a sassy Englishwoman in a blue fur coat who makes short work of Fashion journalists and their guests.
Vodka flows freely and Nina Kraviz takes her place behind the decks.
To make the wait more interesting, Madame calmly decides to make us dance like monkeys before the entrance. With a bottle of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other, he says: “I only let in sexy people and good dancers. Who knows how to dance here? » Fortunately, I am in good friendship with a stylist friend of mine. His wild moves manage to impress the lady bouncer and make her forget about the red velvet rope for a moment. We are here. Vodka flows freely and Nina Kraviz takes her place behind the decks. The evening comes to a head when the famous DJ starts his Bailando remix and I am on the dance floor among old acquaintances and new friends.
At 7.30 on Saturday morning, Paris wakes up and, like the strippers in Jacques Dutronc’s song, I get dressed after a short night. I’d rather stay in bed with 4 hours of sleep on my clock, but Thalys won’t wait. My head hurts, my feet hurt, my clothes smell of cigarettes – only in Paris are cigarettes still chic – and I barely have the courage to open my bank application. Just like last season, I come home tired and broke.
Fashion Week may be fake, but the love of fashion is real!
I wonder if it’s all worth it like last season, but I remember yesterday’s dinner and dance. And clothes, clothes! Fashion Week may be fake, but the love of fashion is real. It lives on red carpets, in the streets, on the bus, in the subway, at fashion shows and at parties. It takes the form of a floral coat and knee-high boots that manage to hide even the worst hangover on a Saturday morning in the Gare du Nord. Goodbye Paris. See you next season.
More Fashion Week adventures? Take a look at our Instagram and TikTok.