How Attending Fashion Week Has Changed For Editors
It's so much more than just runway shows.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written a day-in-the-life diary of what it’s like to be an editor at Paris Fashion Week — I fear if I pull back the curtain too far, you may get bored. By now you must surely know that it’s hardly as glamorous as it looks on Instagram. But since so many of you keep asking, I thought this might be a good moment to take stock of how things have changed. So let me tell you all about it.
6 a.m. I’ve been in Europe for two weeks now, so jet lag is no longer an issue, but my routine is so consistent that I’m beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day, which, in French, is called Un jour sans fin — “a day without end.” Sigh. Here we go again. I start this one by checking the news, which has been especially grim for the fashion world this season with the passing of Karl Lagerfeld and Patrick McCarthy, the former editor of WWD, who played an instrumental role in my formative years as a reporter. In the late '90s, I covered the ready-to-wear and fur beats for the paper and Patrick scared me to death, but he also taught all of us in the newsroom to never pull a punch. “Bite the hand that feeds you,” he famously said. “Never stop biting it. And you know what? It will feed you more.” Still true today — just look at Diet Prada.
6:50 a.m. I’m in the gym at The Peninsula Paris almost every morning. It’s the best time to work off the stress of sitting on benches while watching clothes turn in circles all day long, when I can reflect on what I’ve seen and what I want to write about for the day. And this happens to be the most fabulous hotel gym I’ve ever seen in Paris, spread out over two rooms, plus there’s a 20-meter pool, where I’ve been practicing my flip turns all week. The photographer Scott Shuman is doing planks nearby and I’m on the elliptical, feeling a little nostalgic for the glory days of WWD. Coincidentally, the shows have been stuck in a '90s moment, so I put on some dance remixes of Everything but the Girl and Deborah Cox. Things just ain’t the same …
8:10 a.m. I head upstairs to get ready just as Hidetoshi Nakata, the famous Japanese soccer player and my perennial fashion week crush, heads in to work out. Guess my timing’s off today. My room is on the fifth floor and, over the rooftops, I can see Montmartre on the horizon, which always cheers me up. My closet, however, is becoming a daily downer, as my colleague Sam Broekema and I have decided this season to create a “Monochrome Challenge,” in which he’s only allowed to wear gray and I dress only in navy for the full three weeks of our European tour. I thought this would make the act of getting dressed easier each day, like President Obama and his routine of wearing only gray and navy suits every day to eliminate “decision fatigue.” Instead, I’m getting more and more depressed. I had to create a chart just to make sure I don’t wear exactly the same outfit two days in a row. Today’s look is a navy dress shirt with a subtle Liberty print, wide-weave navy trousers that I bought in Japan, and the blazer of a navy suit from COS that’s just about on its last leg. Most of the buttons are missing. I miss color like the deserts miss the rain.
9:15 a.m. I order the “American breakfast” in the hotel restaurant, which consists of an absurd amount of food. This is what the French think Americans eat every day? Out comes an omelet with tomatoes and spinach, chicken sausages, a bread basket filled with pastries, detox juice and half an avocado, plus there’s a buffet. I’m stuffed and ready for the day.
10 a.m. The Chloé show is at the Maison de la Radio, where Hidetoshi turns up with Nicolas Ghesquière and Julien Dossena, all friends of the designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi. Weird lighting is a theme of the Paris collections, and here one side of the runway is bathed in an unnatural pink and the other seems to be blue. It’s not a flattering look, but it works well for the collection, which has a racy theme that is very subtle, hints of lingerie here and there.
12:30 p.m. After an hour of writing, I join the team and head to L’Avenue, the famous fashion hotspot on Avenue Montaigne, for lunch with the New York prs from Valentino, who have just arrived in Paris. We had lunch at L’Avenue the day before, and coffee there the day before that, so you may start to understand why I feel my days are set on repeat. Why not order the same thing? Petit nems and sea bass it is. At the surrounding tables, there are editors and retailers from Elle, WSJ, W, Goop, and Barneys, and then Tommy Hilfiger, wearing a tracksuit, comes in with three of his children.
2 p.m. We head over to Paco Rabanne at the Grand Palais, where Kelela is posing for the street style photographers outside. Inside, it turns out she’s seated next to Laura Brown, our editor in chief, who’s unfamiliar with her hits. “Help meeeeee …” she says. I feel like Andy Sachs.
3:30 p.m. After so many days on the road, crammed in cars together, everyone’s growing a little crabby, and now the weather is starting to turn rainy as well. Laura and I set a timer to see if we can burn through two shoe presentations in an hour so we can have a break before the evening festivities. Fabrizio Viti is in a suite at the Crillon where a pyramid of shoe boxes displays beribboned pumps and gilded slippers. Then we shuffle over to an ornate building where Roger Vivier has created a “Daydream Vivier,” with three floors of Instagram-worthy displays: A psychoanalyst interpreting the dreams of a woman who is visited in her sleep by an ostrich, a Japanese DJ spinning in a room filled with plush pastel unicorns, a lady lying in a bed with what appears to be a baby wolf, a theater filled with ladies dressed in the style of Belle du jour, and – in a real headscratcher – actress Rossy de Palma. Gherardo Felloni, the new designer, darts between rooms with a big grin on his face, and Poppy Delevingne makes her way to the top of the stairs. “The concept was based on women and desires – eight women living under the same roof, each with a very distinct space and creative world,” Felloni tells me. “I wanted to explore that concept through their dreams. In every room there was a different character, and I imagined what each one was dreaming about at night – acting, singing… In the end, I did not need to explain too much about the product because the room and the décor already tell a story.” I fear that baby wolf will be making an appearance in my own dreams.
4:30 p.m. We’ve made it back to the Peninsula with a little time to spare, so I make plans for a massage later that evening. This gives me the incentive to do some work in my room and quickly catch up on e-mails. It’s also Olivia Palermo’s birthday, and she’s planning drinks later in her room, so I text her for details. “11 or 11:30,” she says, adding a double heart and one of those dancing ladies in a red dress. Oh dear. I do hope that’s not some kind of code.
6:30 p.m. Having written a good start on a feature, I head down to the spa. My back resembles a piece of meat pulled from the freezer, all lumpy and cold. Olivier has his work cut out for him, but he perseveres, pummeling away while I inhale some delicious steam scented with Himalayan sea salt and cloves, placed in a bowl below the face tray. I’ve gone from T-bone to filet. Next time he suggests Thai massage, where they put you on the ground and walk on your back.
8 p.m. I have dinner plans with a group of friends at 9:30 but the texts start arriving as people cancel one by one. This is completely normal during fashion week, as everyone is being pulled in multiple directions at once, exhausted and fed up from doing social media on their phones all day, so I’m not offended. Within half an hour, I’m the only one left so we agree to call the whole thing off, and I head to the bar downstairs for a burger and a martini. Sometimes there’s nothing better than having dinner alone, watching the other guests and imagining what they’re up to. Is that young couple on their honeymoon? Is that gentleman with the large Breguet watch an oligarch? And, hey, isn’t that Nicolas Ghesquière and Marie-Amélie Sauvé heading down the hallway on their way to some fabulous party? How come I wasn’t invited?
10:30 p.m. I’m fading, but I stay up on e-mail and work on a story for another hour, then transition to the bed for just a little minute or two of rest before the party and then … zzzzzzzzzzz.