Paris Fashion Week Unzipped

Seven days, twelve designers - a voyeur’s diary

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QUIET RIOT: Yohji Yamamoto models all in a row  ::: view gallery

Last March, we headed to the city of lights to check out the fall shows of leading designers. Luckily for those who exist outside of the insular fashion bubble, what happens in Paris doesn’t stay in Paris. Here’s a taste of what we saw.

VIKTOR & ROLF I am in a Parisian taxi on an evening in early spring, whizzing through lamp-lit streets, headed to a warehouse in the Marais district. “Are you sure this is it?” asks the cabdriver. Before I can check the invitation—parchment with an island and the iconic Viktor & Rolf seal printed on it—we turn the corner to see a crush of people, a pool of taxis. When I finally inch my way past wistful-looking art-school students without invitations, photographers, and burly French security guards to enter the dark warehouse, I see a procession of models, each bathed in a nimbus of personal illumination, carrying individual light rigs and ambulating slowly, ever so slowly on Dutch clogs. And the clogs have high heels.

Suddenly the island on the invitation makes sense. In Viktor & Rolf’s world, every woman is an island. “It’s a comment on autonomy and individuality,” the designers sweetly tell the press later. Welcome to Paris fashion week. Things are going to get conceptual.

I should back up and say that for the past few years, I’ve been splitting my time between Chicago and Paris, which means that for this week of shows, I am lucky to be staying in my own studio apartment near the Canal Saint-Martin. While I’ve been to a few shows in the past, this is my first time as a bonafide member of the press. I know the schedule can be a grind, and I wonder if I can make it through without getting sick or, more important, without getting sick of fashion.

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