This September, Fashion Week hit Paris

Paris Fashion Week

By Connie Marshall

            And for those of us who might struggle somewhat to speak eloquently about the fall of a hemline or the expert cut of a sleeve, Fashion Week is essentially about being seen at the shows and wearing the clothes, n’est-ce pas? It’s the perfect excuse to deck oneself out in ludicrously decadent attire, fling an authoritative lanyard round one’s neck and set out with a twinkle in one’s eye, as if to say, “Well, we all know where I’m going.” (It’s equally about the delightful goody-bags and sumptuous after-parties, but that’s for another day.) So, with our own Oxford Fashion Week on the horizon, what better opportunity to saunter along Rue de Rivoli in sunglasses pretending to be someone of consequence, compiling the various ways in which to stay chic and sleek on the streets for Fashion Week?
As it happened, Paris Fashion Week coincided with my first week as a horribly-confused Erasmus student at the Sorbonne. Unfortunately, my first day as an “étudiante parisienne” did not run as smoothly as I had initially hoped it might. The first two hours, spent in a (fragrant) lecture hall learning about medieval Italian poetry, were challenging to say the least. And that was before I’d undergone the further two hours of dictation in the same (now even more fragrant) lecture hall, learning about medieval Italian poetry…in Italian. (My grasp of Italian stretches about as far as “ciao bello”). In short, once I had emerged, slightly dazed, from the doors of this great institution, I was ready for a change of scenery.
Nevertheless, my groundbreaking photographic research seems to indicate that one need only select a few, curiously eclectic accessories to complement one’s ensemble and effortlessly convince passers-by of one’s status as pioneering style icon…well, naturally. In fact, whether it be a black trilby or an oversized bow-tie, anything worn with a strut and a pout appears to work a treat.

I surfaced from the metro, and eagerly scanned the area around the famous Tuilleries. I realised it was time to put old-school Britney on pause, swiftly remove headphones from ears and set to work. Everywhere, all manner of exotically-clad creatures seemed to have sprung from the side-streets. Towering models strutted to and from their various shows, clad in their “day gear”, and seemed surprisingly taken-aback upon my asking them to pose “pour mon blog”: “what, wearing this? But it’s not even couture.”

Additionally, one must never shy away from the prospect of coupling animal print with plush green velvet shorts and tassels. It may sound peculiar but flash a smile, work that casual leg pop, and you’re away…

Furthermore, were one to wake up to find one’s luscious locks looking a tad frazzled, peu importe. This devilish diva scrapes it back and lets a feverishly hairy collar take center stage.

Achieve her look by adding a seductively sultry gaze, a lot of confidence and a little hip action…

And whoever said that the vraie parisienne  always sticks to dainty ballet flats evidently had not spied this pair of heels strutting their way around Place du Marché Saint-Honoré…

Indeed, this elegant specimen turned out to be a designer at Fashion Week, and passed on her business card, having patiently smiled as I recited the “Excusez-moi Madame, mais je m’appelle Constantine de Mareshelle et j’écris un blog de la mode parisienne” speech. Rest assured, I scouted out her showroom. But unfortunately, the “Constantine de Mareshelle” speech didn’t work quite as effectively when it came to attempting to sneak stealthily past the stern lady with the clipboard, patrolling at the entrance: “Uh, Mademoiselle - pardon, mais euh…vous êtes qui?” Apparently, showrooms such as these are strictly off-limits to civilians posing as socialites and/or members of the French nobility.

After a further half an hour of snapping models off-duty, I had started to feel a faint inferiority complex coming on. (Unfortunately, my legs only come up to my waist.) My mood soon lifted, however, once I had made friends with the charming man playing acoustic versions of Lady Gaga on the Metro, and subsequently resurfaced in the Marais. In this quirky quartier, it seems the spirit of “Paris à la Mode” is present at every street corner, wafting in and out of stylish boutiques, casually sipping cocktails at ten in the morning (well, after all, it’s past twelve o’clock somewhere).

It was not long before I exuberantly approached this feisty female while she waited, elegantly poised on the steps of a rustic church, for her Italian lover to arrive and escort her to her favourite art gallery.

Clémence rarely frequents the Rue de Rivoli, and instead chooses the eccentric vintage shops (some eclectic, some not so eclectic) , which she finds in and around these lively neighborhoods. “Kilo Shop” is her favorite, as it enables her to purchase “n’importe quoi” in batch by the kilo, whether that be a leopard-print headband or a green tartan coat. In all honesty, I can’t say I caught much else of what she said for the twenty minutes that followed, but I still eagerly nodded and smiled as she chatted away, expertly reapplied her lipstick and fiendishly smoked four cigarettes. I left her as I had found her, puffing away on her fifth, the Mr Italiano still incommunicado…

Perhaps, had he arrived, he might have been able to shed some light on the ongoing issue of this incomprehensible, Italian verse I ought to be analyzing….  

Photography by Gordon Shishodia


  1. These photos are amazing!!!

  2. mes amis, super! glad to see you're getting some good boy time gordo..