Truly, it is becoming quite clear these days, the universe is gently messing with me.
I wrote one article about the mythical Li and her brutal vision of the obsolescence of the fashion industry and a few days later, I found my self having the crazy opportunity to sneak into a Fashion Week Show and actually, for the first time, catch a glimpse of this system from the inside.
To give a bit of context, a friend who works as a fashion photographer could not attend this peculiar show due to another work obligation and in his glorious magnanimity decided to give me his backstage pass. It is possible that when I look at the red pass tied around my wrist, I began to bounce on my seat & scream a little (with a lot of dignity, of course. obviously). The pass was for John Galliano Fall-Winter 15-16 Fashion Show, for the feminine ready-to-wear Paris Fashion Week. It still feels kind of surreal.
I mean, I am not going to lie, being able to see a huge fashion show like this one was truly part of these embarrassing (because, let’s face it, a bit unattainable) childish dreams. And, honestly, what could be better for this quest about fashion, that to enter the system a bit for a few hours ? (Of course, I am not trying to justify myself, why would you say that ? Shhh. )
So, last Sunday, I found myself (with a friend who manages to sneak in as well), in the backstage loge of the show, surrounded by a continuous flow of make-up artists, photographers, fashion journalists, all revolving around a few (unfairly beautiful and weirdly calm) models. And all I could think about when I managed to grab a drink at the refreshment area was how absurd and slightly wonderful my non-diet coke tasted. I was drinking it with models, nothing made sense and for a few moments, I think I just believed in the eternity of our obviously glorious fashion industry (ok, no, I promise, there were no illegal substances in that coke. Just my usual amount of weirdness).
But, concretely, what happened ?
Well, after that perfect coke, we decided to take a look at the second loge, the one in which models were dressed with the actual looks of the show. The atmosphere was a bit oppressive as we entered the room at the same time as dozens of photographers. They needed to take the better shots they could for their magazines, considered the crowded space, and everybody was pushing everybody, trying to catch a glimpse of the (still incredibly calm and beautiful) models. Even with hills, I am still the size of a baby toy, so I admit I didn’t see much of any looks at this point. A few minutes later, security asked the press to leave the room and we were pushed towards the exit. As the show was about to begin soon, only the people with a black pass (“fashion show” pass, and not only “backstage” pass as the red ones, like mine) were allowed to stay. But (for once in my life) I had an idea. I grabbed my friend, put away my camera, hide my red pass under a scrunchie, and we stood in a corner of the room, near a team of make up artist who were our age, as if we were part of the team. We didn’t talk and hold our breath, looking at each other as security, getting a bit angry, was throwing out the last of the photographers. And… it worked. It oddly worked!
We were able to stay in the room, with only a few people left, and watch the looks hanged on the walls and worn by models, as they were just standing a few inches from us, having a make up retouch or chatting a bit with each other. It was strangely peaceful, everybody looked a bit tired, but not that stressed out, they were laughing a bit, talking about the new looks. We were not supposed to be here, and the sense of prohibition added certainly something to the felling we both got at this instant. A taste of secret, maybe. It was like observing the quiet spirit behind the huge machinery we had just seen before. And this ambivalence between the craziness of the show, of this “spectacle” aspect and the professional, quiet work and spirit behind it may be the thing that hit me the most.
We sneaked out after a bit, in order to try to find a place for the fashion show. We ended up sitting on the floor, but the view was quite great for people with no real passes, (or, uh, real right to be here), and we felt pretty lucky. It began… and as I was thinking “please, make this continue endlessly” it was suddenly over. The fashion show it self lasted 30 minutes, not more. And it felt like it was 30 seconds. The rhythm of the loud and vibrating music, the pace of the models walk, the movements of the clothes, everything melted perfectly and it felt like being plunged head first in a huge bowl of intensity. The ambivalence was here again, seeing 6 months of intense work reduced in a crazy 30 minute spectacle.
I couldn’t help but think about what Li said, about the death of creativity and clothes being designed now only for pleasing the audience and “be liked”, not in a true attempt of creation and originality. I think I felt that too, as I was watching the looks, so elegant, sharp and colorful. They were “perfect”, that’s it, they were exactly what everybody expected for this peculiar show and of John Galliano, but I was a bit surprised by their amount of “perfection”, or their lack of craziness, precisely. It was beautiful, it was magnificent for some pieces, but it was not crazy, individual, or different. Because it was not the point. Because it isn’t the point. Not in this peculiar field anymore, and not for big fashion houses like this one. I caught a glimpse of what Li was talking about. I saw our current model put on its favorite “show” and, oh, the spectacle was incredible.
I didn’t know how to feel when I left and I think I still don’t know actually, everything still seems too surreal. But what I do know is that, above everything, my non diet coke will forever taste like wonders and absurdity.