For a few minutes, as models strut down the runway in the season’s most glamorous creations, a fashion show becomes a scene of breathtaking perfection. But those who call Fashion Week work will tell you that the lead-up and aftermath can be chaotic, mundane, and downright absurd. We’ve asked industry pros, from a front-row photographer to a fashion house intern, exactly what the week is like for them. Here, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson details his typical Paris Fashion Week day.
5 a.m. After receiving such positive feedback on my New York Fashion Week diary, I have agreed to reprise the concept here in Paris, if only to disillusion you, dear reader, of the notion that the life of an editor is an endless buffet of bonbons and champagne-fueled parties with supermodels. Rather, I am waking up far too early this morning by the stirrings of a sore throat. After 10 days of nonstop runway shows, I think I might be getting sick.
6 a.m. I'm reading the news in bed. Hugh Hefner has died. My Instagram feed is filled with bunnies. Counting them helps me nod off again.
6:30 a.m. I'm up. I planned today’s outfit before I went to bed last night knowing that I have Chloé super early, and also a trainer coming from Nike’s Concierge service at 7, so I gear up while attempting to make coffee in a Nespresso machine that’s hidden behind a console in my hotel room. Why are these things so complicated? Which cup am I supposed to use for a ristretto? But I must say I rather love this hotel. This season, InStyle is staying at The Peninsula Paris, and my room looks like a high-tech luxury bachelor pad, all dark lacquered wood and a marble bathroom suite with a Japanese toilet that has a heated seat. Hef would have approved. Also, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are delivered through a valet box hidden in the closet, so I never have to open the door in my underwear. I glance through the headlines.
7 a.m. I go downstairs to meet Gwen, the trainer, who it turns out is a former track-and-field competitor who’s really into running. Well, when Paris is your gym, it would be a shame to stay indoors. After a brisk jog to the Trocadéro Gardens, about three-quarters of a mile, we practice sprints, then cross the Seine to the Champ de Mars and do lunges on a park bench in front of the Eiffel Tower. It’s still dark out, but the city is beautiful.
8 a.m. We race back to the hotel, where a “healthy breakfast” awaits in my room. I set what is probably a new Olympic record for speed-eating, scarfing avocado toast with poached eggs, a chia pudding, some berries, and a mystery juice that is unbelievably good, dash in the shower, and get dressed in a lightweight navy Calvin Klein suit, a navy T-shirt from Outdoor Voices, and Gucci loafers. (Still my fashion week uniform.)
8:30 a.m. I meet Laura Brown, our editor-in-chief, out front where our regular taxi driver, Richard (pronounced Ree-chard, here), waits to take us to the Chloé show. Laura calls our driver the “champignon of the world,” which I think he kind of likes. I had to promise a kidney and my firstborn to get into the Chloé show, the debut collection of its new designer, Natacha Ramsay-Levi. It’s arguably the hottest ticket of the week so we’re careful to arrive on time.
8:45 a.m. We’re waiting outside. No one seems to be going in. It’s starting to rain. I take off my suit jacket to keep it from getting wet, but the dripping runoff from smarter peoples’ umbrellas is only making it worse.
9 a.m. We’re in. I wave hi to Nicolas Ghesquière and Julien Dossena. Can’t tell if they like my new “wet look” or not. The show starts a good bit later than planned, but it’s a winner, and everyone leaves happy.
10:15 a.m. Back at the hotel, I order a cappuccino and start to work on the day’s review, and revise story pitches that are overdue. The cappuccino comes with a big “P” etched into the foam, which makes me laugh.
11 a.m. We’re at the halfway point of the European collections, after London and Milan, and my skin looks like a satellite image of the moons of Mars. I need a break, so I book a facial at the spa downstairs, and after reading the options, I figure, why not really go for it? I order the “Seconde Peau” from Biologique Recherche, which the menu describes as having been developed for burn victims and promises to redraw my “face oval.” It involves some kind of acid I cannot pronounce, and costs 300 euros.
11:30 a.m. I’m so relaxed, I have to remember to try not to snore. I wonder if I can write this off on my taxes.
12:15 p.m. The big reveal. I look like a Snapchat filter. Do the Kardashians do this every day? How long can this last?
12:30 p.m. I meet my colleagues in the café upstairs. Sam and Ali review the afternoon schedule and we figure out who’s going where and when. It’s a complicated algorithm of neighborhoods, presentations, catwalk shows, and the ultimate goal of finding a moment to eat. An attentive waiter notices my scratchy throat and proffers a pot of ginger tea with lemon and honey, which really helps.
VIDEO: Runway Remix: Watch Our Recap of New York Fashion Week
1:30 p.m. Sam and I stop by the Sandro showroom on Boulevard Haussmann, where there’s normally a decent spread. Today’s option is a juice bar, and my old pal Roxanne Robinson is directing the young man, Alex, on when to use a juicer versus a blender. Roxanne’s a take-charge kind of gal, but today, she’s also taking her sweet time, directing apples and basil this way and that. After about 10 minutes, Sam says we have to go and we leave empty handed.
2 p.m. We arrive at the impossibly monumental Grand Palais for the Paco Rabanne show. It’s dark as a disco and hot as a sauna inside under the red lights, and the stage is unusual in that all of the stranding-room guests who normally mill about the back of the room are now placed in pods right in the middle of the runway. The show is parade of glitter-ball dresses. “From Disco to Disco” by Whirlpool Productions is the soundtrack. I'm going to have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
3 p.m. We are stuck in traffic outside the Opera Garnier because a large protest over retirement wages is taking place just in front of the building, where Balmain is about to show. We wind our way through the crowd – awfully young for retirees, I might point out – and step into the magnificent opera house. It takes my breath away every time. Upstairs in a grand gallery that could serve a coronation, I’m seated opposite Claudia Schiffer, who’s taking pictures of the collection on her cell phone. I wonder if she’ll notice me in the background of all of her photos when she gets home.
4:30 p.m. We’re headed across town to a Byredo appointment, but Waze says it's going to be another 20 minutes at least and the next show starts at 5 on the other side of the Seine. So we divide and conquer and drop Sam off near the showroom. Ali and I head to the Carven show, which is on a college campus where school is still in session. This actually makes sense, because the new designer Serge Ruffieux, skews his collection very, very young. If you’re looking for a capelet-length rugby shirt, enroll here.
6 p.m. We meet the PR team from Dior for drinks across from the Louvre in the old-fashioned English bar of the Regina, which seems to me to call for a martini, and when a martini calls… I’m starting to fill up on cocktail nuts and olives when I realize it’s getting late, and I still have to write a story, so I excuse myself and return to the Peninsula.
7:30 p.m. Feeling much better, I find I’m able to write fairly quickly. And my dinner plans are here at the hotel, where the retailer FORWARD by Elyse Walker, is throwing a party for Laura Kim, a co-designer of Oscar de la Renta and Monse at 9, so if I can just get this review done soon I might still have time for a swim. There’s fresh fruit in the room, so I eat three figs and a plum.
8:30 p.m. Cutting it close. But I’m done with the story and the pool downstairs is 20 meters long, which is too good to pass up, so I go back down to the Spa and change into my suit. I find “From Disco to Disco” on Tidal and listen to it on repeat for the first few laps (on waterproof, wireless earphones I bought from Plantronics). That song gets really old, really fast so I switch back to Taylor Swift.
9 p.m. Just a few more laps, please!
9:20 p.m. OK, now I’m really late for dinner upstairs, and utterly starving, but I know very well that fashion people operate on another time zone where 9 really means 9:45, or possibly 10. Still, I don’t want to be rude, so I take a quick shower and dress, then ask the concierge to send my wet things up to the room, and head into the party. I smell faintly of chlorine.
10 p.m. The other guests begin to arrive. Ahem.
10:15 p.m. This is evidently a dinner for influencers, because for the life of me I don’t think I’ve ever seen one eat anything. Olivia Culpo is wearing big striped turtleneck that looks hot it makes me break out in a sweat. Leaf Greener is looking for a drink. Jasmine Sanders introduces me to her agent with the warning that “he’s trouble,” referring to me. Only when I’m hungry!
10:30 p.m. OK, now we are seated and there’s a tray of quartered bagels with cream cheese, salmon and cucumbers on the table. I pick the salmon from one. Eventually we are served family style from platters of chicken and brill with truffle risotto, and then plates of prosciutto and fabulous cheeses.
11:45 p.m. Dessert sounds good, but so does sleep. Sebastien Perrin, who is known in industry speak as a “sound designer” (he creates the music for several big shows), points out the best pieces of cheese and I take his advice and eat one that is rimmed in ash to infuse a smokiness, and I think if this were to be my last meal, I’d be fine. I’ll say this: The French do know their cheese. 12:15 a.m. Bonne nuit.