Coming from a small town in the U.S far from the runways of Paris or even New York, my idea of fashion growing up was putting on a “cute” outfit that was inspired by celebrities on TV or in magazines. When I moved to Switzerland 7 years ago, my fashion view broadened and I began to develop an appreciation for personal style.
It wasn’t until this past weekend where I was introduced to another perspective of the world of fashion during Paris Fashion Week with the help of my friend, French stylist: Boldness by Z.
Friday and Saturday night were spent in the underground walls of Titty Twister, one of Paris trendiest nightclubs. It was my first night life experience witnessing a crowd that managed to combine seduction with elegance and attitude in a way I had not yet seen. Some ladies showed skin in non-flashy jeans and crop tops while others accentuated their female curves in tight dresses. The gentlemen were also dressed to impress in a minimalistic styled way. Studded belts, rocker boots, stilettos and purses by French designers Chanel, Dior and YSL were used as a finishing touch. The stylish crowd danced, and drank with an attitude of “we are the cool kids.” This “cool” attitude could be interpreted as arrogant and unapproachable from an outsider perspective. When in reality, it didn’t matter if they were a famous figure in France, when I was introduced to them; they were friendly and warm. As the saying goes: Never judge a book by its cover.
Sunday morning I attended Russian designer Valentin Yudashkin’s Autumn/Winter 16` presentation at The Westin Paris – Vendôme. As my Uber driver approached the hotel I began to feel like I was in a scene from the Devil Wears Prada. Mercedes, BMW’s and other luxurious cars blocked the streets while photographers were lined outside the door snapping photos of the arriving guests. Once inside a sea of vogue-like dressed men and women flooded Westin’s imperial ballroom in preparation for the show. The attendees combined prints, textures and color in such an artistic way that left me starring trying to understand how outfits so eccentric or simple could look so fabulous. It was then the word “Fashionista” came to mind. While everyone has their own meaning to what the term means. I have found a new meaning for myself. A Fashionista is not just someone who follows trends; they are individuals who set trends by appreciating themselves together with the craftsmanship and passion of a designer.
The actual fashion show lasted about 5 minutes. 5 minutes that felt like 5 seconds. In between my admiration of the style around me, the music playing, the models walking and cameras flashing – the entire show has become a faded blur with only a few pictures for memory.
After the show I joined Boldness by Z on a photo shoot for her page near the Eiffel Tower. It was the first time I was present in a fashion photo shoot and I never knew how serious it actually is. Before a picture was taken, the photographer analyzed Z’s position, the light and the background to ensure everything worked together aesthetically.
Z, an experienced stylist and model moved her body and face with focus and always with a strong look. To me, she looked like the models walking down the runway or posing in magazines, always looking so serious.
I didn’t understand why she chose that look because away from pictures she is a happy soul that openly smiles and laughs. Especially when Chica Pam begins dancing in the middle of the street singing “Bonjour Paris!” like a tourist.?
After a little research, I discovered how the no-smiling attitude originated. Hundreds of years ago Selfies were non-existent and the only way to see your self in a picture was through paintings, paintings that took hours to complete. Hours that could make any smiling face land in the hospital with permanent nerve damage. (Imagine that!) Although we now live in a world of instant photos, and a frozen smiling face is no longer a topic. The fashion community has kept the expressionless tradition alive as a means to focus all the attention on the beautiful clothes presented and not the person wearing them. So like Z during the photo shoot, designers and models are choosing to let their clothes speak for their emotions instead of their faces.
Lesson learned: A serious face does not mean misery or arrogance.
As I boarded my flight back to Zurich on Sunday night, my mind was full trying to put the last 48 hours in one congruent picture. After reflecting this past week, I realized Paris taught me some very important lessons.
Fashion is an art that should be respected and understood beyond the labels or price tags. Behind every beautiful designer piece is vision and hard work. The fashion community with their serious looks is in fact full of people who are playing a role in appreciating and supporting the work of each other.
Individuality and confidence is EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter what you wear, as long as you wear it with pride – knowing you are expressing yourself and not the image of someone else.
Okaaaaay… so this post turned out longer than I expected… it’s definitely time to end it.?
But before I do, I will say one last thing: BE YOURSELF, it’s the most fashionable thing you can do.
Thanks for reading and wish you all a fabulous weekend!