What’s It Like to Go to Paris Fashion Week? Photographer Cassell A. Ferere Tells Us

 
Ami  &  Aya  Amiaya at the  agnes B  show

Ami & Aya Amiaya at the agnes B show

 

Originally written for Fashion Week Online, 2019 

Words and Photographs by Cassell A. Ferere

Upon my arrival, I noticed that this place has become one of the most familiar places in my life, even if I arrived for the first time through Orly airport, just south of the city center of Paris. About 4 weeks ago, I was here, in the city of lights, enjoying Couture week with the rest of the Parisian fashion scene. But this time was an “ah ha” moment for me. I realized that a lot of the time when we travel to places far enough; we never get to do all the things on our list. First time I’ve been back to Paris at such close dates from one another. But I’ve always had the affinity for Paris as some do for New York City. And I was elated, once again.

 

This time around, similar to the first, I had my itinerary planned out for the shows and presentations, showroom visits, as well as events and after parties. I even had some photo shoots lined up with IDAO showroom and their women’s wear brands. But, for women’s fashion week, there was much more to do, in addition to my stay being a couple of days longer. As soon as I landed I arranged a car to Hotel Duminy in Place Vendome, in the city center. I checked into my Hotel where I met with my Chris Lavish who also stayed in the same hotel. We drop our bags in our rooms, freshen up, and call an Uber, headed to our first show, Dawei. 

We arrive at the venue, Palais de Tokyo. With a landscape view of the Eiffel Tower, this museum is dedicated to art from living artist with surreal perspectives. This is a place that has notoriously hosted some of the most interesting fashion shows, as well as art that is just as intriguing. For many reasons, fashion week is a beautiful experience for those who have a particular passion for fashion. It is an influx of the most interesting characters not only to meet but also just to see from a few feet away. Details that leave you in awe, and people that have shaped the taste of our favorite tastemakers, are reasons to be present. Everyone has their own style, whether they are a rhinestone cowboy like James Goldstein, a hoodie and a long skirt paired with a pair of unreleased Sacai Nike Blazers like Sarah Andelman, founder of Colette, minimal in muted tones, or even just going all black and dystopian-like. 

 

Before each show, people arrive from about 15 minutes before until show time. At this point, a gang of photographers all synchronizes their movements so that each is allotted a fair – shot – at capturing the street style of the attendees who came to be seen as much as they are there to see what’s new from their favorite brands and designers. And even once inside, and the doors are closed, it is a casserole of fashion styles associated to each individual, making way to see friends they have been adoring for years as the likely are followers of one another on Instagram, likely. Inside each show, more intimate photography of people chatting, flirting, and discussing looks are taking place minutes before the last looks before models come careening down the runway.  Right now is a good time to acknowledge a favor look worn by anyone of your liken, a great chance to break the ice that is Paris Fashion Week. 

A good sign the show is about to start is the deep, aggressive voices that shout to those with their legs crossed to uncross them, as their shots of models down the runway may be lined with all kinds of interesting, yet distracting footwear. Music sounds, gradually drowning out the rest of the chattering bunch who can't break their conversations soon enough. It’s likely you won't be headed to the same show as your neighbor, so its keen to get in whatever business you may have before the show starts. The lights get intensely bright as to light the models evenly, or dramatically, depending on the show.

Liu Chao

Liu Chao

The models enter after a pause, almost as if everyone has held their breaths. Each show demands a tone from the models that carry the narrative of the collections. I had chosen to take photos from my seating arrangements, rather than to crouch in the pit or hover from behind the seats. It was important to me to have a view of the runway that would translate for someone who wasn’t at that show. Nehera’s show had the models step swiftly down the catwalk, the clothing flailed as the past in their pastel colorways. Guy Laroche’s models strutted with confidence, coupled with power in each step, as the collection’s all black silhouettes shimmered with bejeweled details. At Liu Chao’s show, women were stern when stepping down the runway, and quickly turning with acuteness to 90 degrees. My favorite was Agnes b., where the show started on a subtle note as the models gracefully walk wearing conservative garments, and as the show went on the clothing went from mid-century modern to the trends of today sewn into the storyline. As the mood changed, the music changed, and the attitude of the models changed dramatically, dancing their way, cheerfully down the runway. In the end, you hope to see the designers come out and thank the crowd, which can be a big grand gesture, or a quick show and go.

After the show, the race begins. Half the attendees are off to the next show on their agenda. All the hustling to the doors usually causes a bottleneck. Interviews take place and more photos are taken. Those who didn’t get a chance to speak before the show may take some time to catch up with a fellow attendee. I too have another show to attend, or event of the sort. But I can’t help but partake in the exchanges.  For me it is an out of body experience, someplace I’ve only dreamed about, or watched on some screen before. But this isn’t my first time here in Paris for fashion week. There is camaraderie amongst the people who come to fashion week, more like a celebration of fashion. It’s the feeling one gets when dressed and to impress your friends with your style, a better version of high school, where everyone is free to be unique as can be. All with an embrace from like minds. 

Cassell_2019.03.01 Womens.PFW_Day4-4803.jpg

Day to day, seeing the same people nearly all week and to see them in their outfits of the day, you are treated with delightful looks worn by incredible people in the fashion world. Everywhere you go, some of the most stylish people you see, at the nearest Wild & the Moon, ordering some vegan snacks and the momentous “Take Me Higher” juice by Sacai done in collaboration, even at the after parties. You can’t help but wonder what kind of luggage they traveled with. I had to check a bag for the first time in years; I’m usually a carry-on guy. But the abundance of style and personality is perfect for a Paris backdrop. The city of light became a city of love. Love for style, fashion and meeting new people. We all came for new styles in fashion and left with new friends in fashion. I can’t wait for the fashion week, whichever city I can plan for next. New York is home, so…

Model relieved from her duties after the show.

Model relieved from her duties after the show.

 
Lavish at  Wild and the Moon .

More images from Paris Fashion week

 

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