By Eric Wilson
Updated Oct 01, 2018 @ 3:45 pm

Andie MacDowell has taken Paris by storm.

Scratch that.

Rather, Andie MacDowell has re-taken Paris by storm. There she was twirling for photographers at the Cédric Charlier show on Friday afternoon, commenting on the beautiful clothes. There she was on the back of a bus, or her image, anyway, modeling for the French ready-to-wear label Un Jour Ailleurs. There she was, if you were observing closely, jogging through the Tuilleries. And there she was, once again, on Sunday morning, backstage at the L’Oréal Paris Fashion Week show, which was about to take place on a runway built on a barge docked in the Seine.

Had she been practicing a signature move for the catwalk?

“Are you kidding me?” she said. “Get down the runway — that’s going to be my runway move for today.”

MacDowell was among a group of VIPs that included Elle Fanning, Eva Longoria, and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau who walking in this year’s L’Oréal show, which sought to top the extravagance of last year’s event, which was held on the Champs-Elysees, with its riverfront views. The new setting was, indeed, phenomenal, though Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren, the previous headliners, are a tough act to follow. And yet no one in Paris has more runway cred than MacDowell. She started modeling here when she was 20, a kid from Gaffney, S.C., working for Yves Saint Laurent.

“I think it’s interesting that here I am at 60, doing a show again,” she said, though she confessed to some nervousness, given that thousands of people had lined the banks and bridges of the Seine to watch the show. “The nice thing about doing Saint Laurent was that you couldn’t see anybody because the bright lights were on you. It felt like you were on a stage, but you couldn’t see the public. It was scary, but fun at the same time, and they would give you a glass of champagne, so that would help a little bit.”

Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

MacDowell also noted that she has been working with L’Oréal for 32 years, and she recalled that, long ago, people used to tell her that her career would be over as a model by the time she turned 30. And yet she has worked nonstop. She modeled for Calvin Klein in Greece, worked with Avedon, knew Donna Karan before she was Donna Karan, and when the legendary stylist Polly Mellen saw her and exclaimed, “A star is born,” she thought to herself, “This lady is crazy.” It’s important to note that MacDowell’s star hasn’t faded one bit, as the fashion and beauty industries have finally started to change, becoming more inclusive of anyone, regardless of age, race, or ability to walk like a model on a runway (sorry, Mr. Coster-Waldau, it has to be said).

“Everybody should be allowed to feel they are a part of fashion and beauty,” MacDowell said. “It shouldn’t be elitist. I’m here, and I think that’s important. We are changing the concept of what beauty means, and that it is for a lifetime. Life is valuable, and to be enjoyed. We should feel good about ourselves. We should be included.”

Longoria, who was installed in a neighboring booth backstage, had a similar outlook, though this was her very first time to appear in a runway show, “much less one in a river,” she said. Like MacDowell, Longoria, too, is a runner, and had prepared for the show by taking a route from the Eiffel Tower and along the Seine. For what it’s worth, both performed marvelously.

Credit: ALAIN JOCARD/Getty Images

“What I love about L’Oréal’s fashion show is that it represents an intersection of fashion and beauty,” Longoria said. “We’re not just showing off clothes. We’re showing off participation.”