The Gay Pride rally was all a bit noisy for me after a long day of shows, so last night I left the naked street dancing men of Le Marais and headed out into the balmy Parisienne night. I met up with Zippora and some of her model friends at a bar named La Perle (a word I had extreme difficulty pronouncing until I found out it’s said just like ‘pearl’ in English). Two of the boys were models.com Top 50 listers and I immediately began asking them a few (hundred) questions to try to get a better understanding of what life in the business is really like.
Family portrait backstage at Lanvin – Alber Elbaz, Lucas Ossendrijver and the kids
Do they like the shows? Not particularly, but you do the shows to get the campaigns. Paris is fine but Milan is awful – models there get treated like pack animals. The campaigns must pay huge right? No, most of the big name design houses don’t have any money – a fragrance campaign which might have paid $75,000 last year would now be eagerly snapped up at $15,000, day rates of $20,000 have been slashed to $1500. The campaigns beget the catalogue work – the only way to really make money is to build up a good relationship with a commercial client like Macys. So do they like the job? It has its perks – the girls, the travel, the experiences, but it’s not at all glamorous like it seems. They stay in tiny rooms in low cost accommodation, and rarely get to go home to see the family. Poor buggers.
The party at La Perle turned into a full night of running around Paris and I didn’t end up back at my apartment until nine this morning – which left me no time to get changed or shower before my favourite show of the week, Lanvin. Exhausted, unwashed and accompanied by Dayne and Zippora, I arrived at the venue (a theatre in the 16th) and went straight backstage to see the two greatest men in Paris – Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver. Those guys blow my mind – they stay relaxed and joke around with each other up until the very last minute before the show. They even took the time to take a photo with me – but I had to promise Alber it wouldn’t end up on Facebook… I may have lied. As soon as I saw the clothes I literally just about passed out with the urge to steal them all and run away. But being the upstanding citizen that I am, I resisted and joined the excited crowd milling around the catwalk. NZ photographer Michael Ng waved to me from the podium so I decided to join him there – I wanted a premium view for this one.
The show, as always, was pitch perfect – a playful approach to the businessman’s wardrobe – Wall Street suits paired with banker’s visors, incredible trench coats, the best pleated pants of all time, amazing tiny collars on shirts, and to top it all off, each model had a drawn on moustache. When the boys came out for the finale, they walked in a disjointed pack reminiscent of faceless suits in a train station – all rushing to get to their destinations on time. Then they took their positions at the start of the catwalk… and just stayed there. Seconds passed, then a minute, still the crowd was clapping and the boys weren’t moving. People started to get up to leave and the boys never left – Alber obviously taught them well – polite gentlemen wait for their guests to leave before exiting themselves.
The next few hours of the day were a bit of a blur, I was utterly exhausted and was getting all antsy about my biggest challenge of the week – Dior Homme. I have a 100% failure rate with Dior – I tried so hard last year to get in but was denied at the front entrance, the side door and backstage.
I met up with Jethro Cave backstage at Masotomo, where, just seconds before, he’d had an altercation with a security guard over the merciless killing of a pigeon. I’ve heard a lot of crazy stories about the Australian model (and son of musician Nick Cave), but the impression he left with me was of a fun, young, enthusiastic Antipodean who won’t let anything get in the way of a good time – or animal rights obviously.
The ride over to Dior Homme was a tense one for me. As I’ve said before, the best way to get into a show is to have no expectations and to be utterly detached either way – if they say yes, fine, if they say no, fine too. I just can’t do that with Dior. I care too much. Besides Lanvin, Dries Van Noten and Raf Simons, it’s the show that I’m most obsessed with. But the others give me invites, Dior says no. So, just like last year, I was flustered and nervous, and, just like last year, I made the fatal mistake of hanging back at the start. I may as well have had a big sign around my neck screaming “I’M DESPERATE AND DON’T BELONG! PLEASE LET ME IN!” I had no hope. My 100% failure rate remains intact.
Rejected, dejected and generally over it, I got back on the bus to head over to Paul Smith. Michael Ng dropped down beside me. “Where were you?” He asked. “I had a spare invitation for you and I was running around but I couldn’t find you anywhere!” Oh joy.
Waiting for Paul Smith to start, I fell asleep twice. I was rudely awakened the second time by a distinguished looking gentleman whose seat I had stolen. I had to move. I was ready to kill. But Paul Smith shows are always fun and light hearted so as the first model came out – an eccentric aristocratic looking kind of guy – my mood gradually lifted. Soon I was tapping my feet in time with the soundtrack and feeling happy that the week was just about over. As the last model left the catwalk the music changed – I heard a familiar beat. Then a voice rose from the grave – “It’s close to miiiiiidnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark.” The crowd erupted. All the boys came out and danced with Sir Paul down the catwalk.
I walked out with that unbeatable mix of relief, exhaustion and completion that you only get after finishing a major exam. There were two more shows to go but I just kept walking. I’d done my dash, it was time for bed.
I LIKE YOU!