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Kenzo?s 40th anniversary show drew key pieces from the archives in a fantastic circus setting, while Hermès was memorable because this was Jean Paul Gaultier?s last
MY LIFE AS a blogger began some five years ago, but blogging, as a career, only really began this year.
It started with an invitation to the anniversary party of a major online luxury retailer, Luisaviaroma.com. Along with 30 other fashion bloggers from around the world, we were invited to visit Luisa?s three-floor shopping haven in Florence last June.
From that came the exclusive invitation to join the buyers of Luisa as their first guest blogger/Tweeter during Paris Fashion Week. Before I knew it, I was on a flight to Europe to attend major shows of premier international designers and brands.
Seeing all the invitations in my name and realizing what was happening was surreal and exciting. But it all proved daunting. The show schedules were quite tight and there was little time to move from one venue to another. I was unfamiliar with the venues so I also had no way of knowing how far one was from the other.
As a result of my unfamiliarity, during Paris Fashion Week, I almost missed the Vivienne Westwood show because I was taken to the wrong venue and had to run over a mile while lugging around my very heavy camera. I rushed in my five-inch heels under pouring rain to the show! If the show weren?t 1.5 hours late (Westwood waited for editors to arrive from the Lanvin show which ended late), then I?d have missed the show altogether.
I actually missed one of the most important shows of the week?Louis Vuitton! Fellow Filipino and blogger, Bryanboy, and I decided to attend it together but because of the poor traffic situation, we arrived 10 minutes late?and the show had begun on time.
We also missed the Akris show (which received wonderful reviews) because we woke up late?the show was at 9 a.m. Important lessons learned?sleep early if there will be shows the next morning, always be early to the shows, pre-book the taxi before the show begins, and leave the show immediately after it ends.
The front rows of major shows would almost always be peppered with celebrities, such as Janet Jackson, Dita Von Teese, Alexa Chung and the occasional off-duty supermodels.
And then there were the front-row staples?editors of top glossies and newspapers such as Vogue?s Grace Coddington (unfortunately I did not have an Anna Wintour sighting), T Magazine?s Sally Singer, the Daily Telegraph?s Hilary Alexander, industry legend Suzy Menkes, French Vogue?s Carine Roitfeld, Italian Vogue?s Franca Sozzani and Anna Piaggi, Vogue Nippon?s Anna Dello Russo, and NYT?s Bill Cunningham.
And then you also have international bloggers such as Scott Schuman, Susie Bubble, Garance Dore, Tommy Ton and Bryanboy, who at one point was being followed by the film crew of documentarist Loic Prigent.
A personal highlight is the Westwood show. I ended up sitting on the front row with some of the major buyers of big department stores such as Takashimaya and Saks Fifth Avenue as well as the editor of Harper?s Bazaar Taiwan.
Luisaviaroma owner Andrea Panconesi?s daughter Luisa could not attend the show so I was given her front-row seat. I was also given a backstage pass to see Westwood after the show?and seeing her up close as she was being interviewed by the international press only made me want to pinch myself that everything happening was all for real.
Standouts in the Spring-Summer 2011 collection included Westwood?s heart dress; Chloe?s new immaculate bag in white; Valentino?s collection of lace, ruffles, and denim?a first; Ungaro?s entire collection by Giles Deacon (a welcome change from the previously tragic season by Lindsay Lohan); Viktor and Rolf?s wedding gowns; Kenzo?s clog sandals; and Hermès? transparent crocodile jacket and Kelly which held a mini birkin, and the galuchat Kelly cut.
The best shows have to be those of John Galliano, Kenzo and Hermès. The first two shows themselves were highly entertaining?Galliano?s dramatic clothes were presented in a very theatrical way and had veterans Angela Lindvall and Yasmin Le Bon walking for the show, while Kenzo?s 40th-anniversary show highlighted key pieces from the house archives in a fantastic circus-like setting complete with a revolving stage.
Hermès is likewise memorable not only for the presentation of the show itself with equestrians riding their horses under massive chandeliers, but also because this was Jean Paul Gaultier?s last for the luxury house.
Throughout eight days of Paris Fashion Week, I attended a total of 17 shows and six presentations?and for the first three days, I wore five-inch heels.
While it was truly an exhilarating experience to be photographed by street-style photographers and even by Mr. Bill Cunningham himself, it eventually became of little importance what I wore because I needed to be comfortable above all.
So by Day 3, I chucked my heels and went around wearing flats!
Having to follow the buyers of Luisaviaroma.com during fashion week proved one thing. While it is glamorous to attend fashion shows, it is also highly stressful?there is this never- ending supply of adrenalin running through your system throughout the week.
And I have been told people are known to have lost weight because of the stress during fashion week! Some have even laughingly called it ?The Paris Fashion Week Diet?!
Looking back, no matter how high the stress level, it was really well worth it. The experience is very memorable and will remain unparalleled-until the next season comes along!
Ingrid Chua-Go is publisher of www.thebaghagdiaries.com and is on twitter.com/thebaghag.