My local breakfasterie in Paris is an organic bakery named Le Pain Quotidien in Le Marais. Every morning I go there and attempt to explain my not too complicated breakfast order in French to the same waitress who knows I don’t speak French, but delights in correcting me at every given opportunity.. (Hot chocolate, orange juice and selection of breads – hold the brown, add an extra baguette.) For the past two mornings I’ve watched an amused twenty something year old guy watch me as I slowly sound out my bad French vowels. This morning he spoke to me and asked why I don’t just speak English to her. I replied that the only way my bad French will ever improve is by practising it with rude French waitresses. He laughed and introduced himself. His name is Kalle Heimburger, he comes from Denmark and he’s here for the menswear shows too. He’s a buyer for Normann Copenhagen – apparently the biggest designer store in the country. “What do you sell?” I asked. “Oh, you know,” he replied, “clothing, books, shoes, furniture, dildos.”
I met up with Dayne Johnston – we’re swiftly becoming inseperable Paris BFFs – to go to the Kenzo show together. 25 minutes and three train changes later and we arrived at the same carpark where the John Galliano and Hugo Boss shows were held. Between us we had one photographer’s pass – they obviously misread my email requesting a seat – so, being the nice guy I am (and seeing as Dayne is not so acclimatised to public humiliation as me), I gave it to him. He breezed through the door and I followed, giving my best “check the list!” performance – as they scramble through pages and pages of names I walk straight through – by the time they’ve either found my name (or not, as is mostly the case), I’m long gone.
The catwalk was long, industrial and reminiscent of a Zambesi show venue, but with one addition – huge glass jars filled with sand hung at regular intervals along its length. The show was based on the expeditions of Pierre de Brazza and featured washed linens in creams and whites – gracefully streaked with mud and sand – and the most amazing hiking boots. They first appeared in snake skin – a bit flamboyant for my tastes – but soon came out in beautiful greys, browns and beige leathers. I’m obsessed. As the show closed the big glass jars began to tip forward emptying vast quantities of sand onto the catwalk, the models and some of the front row. Dust filled the air and for a moment it almost felt like we were in the desert – hot, dehydrated and blind.
Dayne ummed and aahed about going to the next show – Miharayasuhiro – with me, fearing that he’d miss his 1pm Maison Martin Margiela presentation. I assured him that we’d be fine, if anything went wrong I’d pay for the taxi, but there’d be no need for that, there was no way we’d be running late. I finally convinced him to come and we made our way into the venue. The show was based on my dad’s favourite book Le Petit Prince, channelling the young protagonist’s nights spent in the desert – more laundered linens, though this time in a darker colour palette. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, it featured Zdenek Zaboj and my favourite of the week Will Eustace, but I fear it wasn’t worth the drama that took place next.
Dayne and I ran out the door (the moment Mr Yasuhiro had taken his last bow) and onto the street to take a taxi. What was I thinking? This is Paris. Even if the taxis are free the blasted drivers won’t pick you up. I knew where we were going so we started half running in the direction of the presentation, constantly looking around just in case a kindly driver took pity on us. They didn’t. Dayne started looking a little worried as we increased our speed. It was hot – at least 30 degrees, and my feet were already killing me from the last few days of walking (I drive everywhere in Auckland). 12:50pm rolled by, then 12:55pm, and we began virtually sprinting down the road. I finally spied a taxi and knocked on his window. He welcomed us in then shook his head and ushered us out after I told him our desired address. Back to running. We finally arrived at the presentation at 1:07pm, both pouring with sweat, both panting like dogs. We wiped our brows, paused for a moment then entered. The presentation began as we walked through the door.
Going to bed at 4am during fashion week is never a good idea, and my lack of sleep, water and aching feet began affecting my mood. Our next show was Bernard Wilhelm. I had an invitation but when we arrived I found they’d overbooked and weren’t letting anybody else in. My mood quickly deteriorated. I was ready to go home.
Next show was Ann Demeulemeester. I didn’t have an invitation and I was happy to not make the effort to get in but Dayne was terribly excited at the prospect of going – as a long time fan of her work he was eager to see the show in real life. I couldn’t leave my new BFF hanging so off we went on the Fashion Week bus to the show. I fell asleep twice, both times rudely awakened by fellow bus-mates waxing lyrical about the latest fashion news and gossip. I was over it. I pride myself on being a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of guy, not much brings me down, but on the rare occasion I do get like this (usually during fashion week), my tolerance levels go out the window. I wasn’t going to let some bully French security guard get in my way of seeing the show so when I got to the venue I pushed past all the other attendees waiting in line and walked straight in, daring anybody to say anything. Nobody did. I left Dayne in a seat and headed backstage for a drink. It had been at least four hours since my last glass of water. The security guard wasn’t letting anybody through. I walked past him, he started saying something, I kept walking, he kept saying something, I ignored him entirely and walked through, grabbed a glass of water, snapped a few shots then walked back out. In the end I was glad to have stayed for the show – it’s not my usual style but I saw some of the best leather pants of all time. Might have to grab some.
Next up was a presentation at The Ritz. I did the same thing past the security guard but this one decided to take offense. I argued then gave up and walked out. It was definitely time for home.
Now I’m sitting in my hotel room listening to ten thousand half naked men screaming and blowing whistles. It’s Gay Pride day here in Paris and I’m stuck in a hotel in Le Marais. It’s going to be one looooong night.
I LIKE YOU!