Enough with nostalgic holiday moments, poignant memories, beloved traditions, bad weather all over the world, mudslides in Southern California, terrible fires in Northern California last year, world politics and new year’s resolutions I never keep!!!—-let’s get down to fun business, its Fashion Show Season again.
In the fashion world, the year always starts with a bang with the Haute Couture fashion shows in Paris in January—Haute Couture is the high art of French fashion, where each garment is handmade (not a single machine stitch on them!!), the clothes are worn in a runway show by 40 or 50 gorgeous models, and the clothes have to be ordered, and take several months to make, with 2 or 3 fittings, and given the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into them, they cost a fortune. It’s an international event, and hundreds of press are there in Paris, and famous people from around the world come to see to see the show.
The French government—- has to give the designers or fashion houses permission to put on a fashion show, and they give them an allotted date and time. You can’t just decide to do it, you need government permission. And people who want to see the show have to be invited, you can’t just show up. And it’s very exclusive and highly desired to get an invitation to these shows. Two months later, the French ready to wear designers will show their clothes for next season, but the January (and July) Show traditionally is only to show the very exclusive Haute Couture clothes. The season being shown right now is for fall/winter later this year. The clothes that people are wearing now were shown last July—-although very, very few people can afford to buy Haute Couture, the prices are astronomical—-more than a car!!! To put it in perspective.
Haute Couture week in Paris used to be a jam packed event, with many shows every day. Because of the cost of producing the clothes, and how rarefied it has all become, there are very very few real Haute Couture houses left in Paris. In fact, only two: Chanel and Dior. Schiaparelli recently made a comeback a couple of years ago. The others have either closed entirely, or stopped their Haute Couture lines and only make ready to wear (Givenchy, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and a host of others.) So Haute Couture fashion ‘week’ now only lasts 2 and a half days. To help keep the Fashion Industry alive, and garner attention for it, the French government came up with an interesting idea a year or so ago, and invited a few American ready to wear designers to show their ready to wear clothes in a fashion show in Paris twice a year, during Haute Couture week. I think it was started as an experiment to see how it would work. It has worked extremely well!! And I was lucky enough to see one of these new shows, during Haute Couture week, last July, and again today.
One of my daughters (one of three of my daughters who work in fashion) is a design consultant at Proenza Schouler in the States. She researches fashions during various periods of recent and long ago history, or specific items, to inspire the designers she works for. And once they’re off and running with designs for next season, she consults with them about color, shape, detail, length, and all the details that go into creating a beautiful item of clothing. The clothing is produced for the show (as a kind of sample), it is fit on the models who will wear them in the show. Everyone who works for a fashion house works like crazy on these shows—-as in 18 to 20 hour days, weeks before, and round the clock a week before the show. The consultant/stylist selects the accessories for the clothes, watches the hair and makeup artists, so that EVERY single element in the show will be perfect!!! They watch the models dress and go out on the runway, and keep a close eye on everything!!!
Like a wedding, considering all the preparation that goes into it, in comparison, the show itself lasts a very short time. Maybe half an hour from beginning to end, but the planning and preparation before the event goes on for months, and at fever pitch in the end. Everything has to be perfect.
So my daughter did her job—-and I went to the show today, and loved it. There is always a huge amount of excitement leading up to a fashion show—and the trend for several years now has been to do these shows in unusual locations, a restaurant, a museum, a store, an empty building, a train station, a sports club, or some out of the way location. Designers are often looking for a suitable setting for a show, or a controversial one to excite the press. The Proenza show today was at a construction site, the idea in this case was to have it in a place so stark and undecorated, (in its ‘natural state) that it wouldn’t interfere with the clothes. They succeeded with that!!!
The show had a great look, and what they call a “story” in the business, the clothes had a related feel and made sense together, interesting fabrics, beautiful designs and details. It was a very, very strong show, with a reminiscent 70’s feel to it. I know how much work went into the clothes and the show, my daughter has been staying with me and working 18 hour days, coming home at 2 am, and leaving well before sunrise again the next day to go back to the office. (And from sheer exhaustion, many of the workers and crew came down with the flu, and several went to work with fevers, but stuck with it and worked hard anyway.) In the end, it was a huge success, and I was so proud of my daughter’s part in it. She has immense talent, and this is a great way to express it. I was thrilled for her when I saw the show.
After the show, the audience disbands quickly, so they can go on to the next show. They flood out the doors and dash to the next show. The Haute Couture and Ready to Wear shows are attended by store buyers, fashion editors, clients, movie stars, and people who are involved in fashion in some way. It’s a very knowledgeable crowd.
One very noticeable element was the models. The same group of girls model in many of the shows. In France, the models have to be age 16 or over. In the States they hire them sometimes as young as 14 and 15 (although they look grown up and sophisticated in the clothes). Almost all of them are very tall, and they are frighteningly thin—too thin. Humans just don’t come in that size, unless they have some kind of fatal illness (or are severely anorexic. It’s not pretty, it’s too extreme, and most men don’t even like women that thin). And the bad part of that is that normal women compare themselves to those models, which are much too thin to be healthy, and eventually suffer the consequences. These way too thin girls have become role models for women and young girls, and set an example that no one healthy should aspire to. It’s a concern to any woman who has daughters, and most women compare themselves to these young girls and feel too heavy in comparison. We all need better perspective on that subject!!
It was a perfect ending to the show when one of the famous models came dashing out, and rushed up to a motorcycle driver holding a sign up with her name. He was a “moto-taxi driver”, very common in Paris to get somewhere quickly. He wrapped her in heavy rain gear, and she hopped onto the back of his motorcycle and he put a helmet on her, and a moment later, they sped off in Paris traffic, to get her to her next destination. She was very young and very pretty, she gave a wave as they drove away. The show was over. On to the next one!! I’m going to the Chanel show tomorrow, I’ll let you know how that one is. They sent me a whole box of makeup, perfume and chocolates, as a kind of prelude to the show—-and little gold marshmallow bears, dipped in gold colored chocolate!!! YUM!!! It was a proud day for me, seeing the beautiful show my daughter helped to put together and coordinate. It was one of those special moments!!
I LOVED seeing the show, AND knowing that my daughter was an integral part of it. I was a VERY proud Mom today.
Have a great week, love, Danielle