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  • Writer's pictureLeila Roker

Paris Fashion Week

Part of Oteyza's Men Collection

Yesterday evening marks my third Paris Fashion Week. Paris Fashion Week is always curious in the way it presents itself. I don’t think anyone (at least people who aren't in the industry in an “official” capacity) ever anticipate when they'll be attending Paris Fashion Week, it more presents itself to who it wants to, when it wants to.

Okay, that was a really dramatic way of saying every time I’m invited I basically poop myself and have under 24 hours to prepare. I think New York has similar opportunities, but they never present themselves to jaded New Yorkers because they’re too wrapped up in their own routines, so there’s no opening, but in Paris, I have a different schedule every day, so opportunities do seem to present themselves.

The first time I ever went to Paris fashion week, I was in my sophomore year of college, acting as the deputy editor of my school’s online newspaper. My Editor-In-Chief didn’t really have a taste for fashion, so she passed the invitation to me, the deputy editor. She asked if I could finesse my way into the press section. She told me this the night before and I freaked out. What do I wear? What do I do? And more importantly, how do I get into the press section?

Me At My First Paris Fashion Show

Thankfully, I had been to a few New York Fashion Week before with my mom, who is also naturally a queen at fashion, so I FaceTimed her about what to wear. She recommended an outfit that says “I’m trying, but not that hard”, which consisted of a black dress, a red scarf, and a vintage fur with kitten heels. She was right, it was perfect for the event. Next was the press section, how do you get in?

My journalism professor had handed out student press passes (which were basically just branded business cards that read "Student Journalist" without our names). I thought to myself, there’s no way this is gonna work. But I practiced in the mirror what I was going to say several times in French, “Bonjour, je suis avec l’Université Américaine de Paris, et je suis une journaliste de social media pour l’Université.” Even I didn’t believe myself.

But that day, I arrived at 1 PM at the Intercontinental Hotel, ready in my outfit and my card, I confidently recited my practiced sentence and was surprisingly let into the press section (without even a professional camera, just my phone). Ever since then, I’ve been able to enter Paris fashion week with ease. I realized it’s all in the level of confidence.

That proved effective last night when I was invited to an impromptu Paris Men’s Fashion Week 20 minutes before the show started. It was my professor who invited me to the event. She explained that because of “les grèves”, or the strikes, which essentially means total chaos on the metro, she just wanted to get home early. I’m now acting as the Editor-In-Chief of my Fashion Journalism class, so she asked my deputy editor and me if we wanted to go to the show in her place. Of course, without a thought, we said yes, despite both of our attire consisting of jeans, sweaters, and boots.

It was 6 PM, and the event started at 6 PM and ended at 8:30 PM. So we had essentially -15 minutes to get there. We considered splitting an Uber, but because it was raining in addition to the month-long strikes, the Uber wait was 16 minutes. We decided to walk it because after all, we were both just wearing jeans and a sweater. On the way there we debated on whether or not we would get let in.

After a 15 minute walk, we arrived, only to realize this event was being held at the Spanish Embassy of Paris. No big deal? We confidently presented our student passes and explained we were “en lieu” of my professor, and were graciously let in. It was a Spanish designer called Oteyza. The line consisted of matador-esque pieces for men. We both grabbed a glass or two of the free Spanish wine being offered to taste, and took in the elegance of the Paris Spanish Embassy, walls carpeted with antique rugs and grande chandeliers- it was something out of a movie.

Room At The Spanish Embassy in Paris

It started as an antique-styled showroom, pieces were situated on mannequins, and in another huge room, models presented the outfits in the form of a tableau. And then, the ballroom transformed into a catwalk. It was definitely one of the most theatrical catwalks I’ve seen, the men entered in traditional Spanish dress, with capes and candles to dramatically light the event, followed by some choreography by the designer, and was finally followed by the standard definition of a catwalk.

When the show was done and the lights turned on, it turned back into what resembled a cocktail party. Both my deputy editor and I had been around a few Paris Fashion Week shows and pointed out to each other some familiar faces, but because we weren’t sure what language they spoke, we didn’t introduce ourselves to anyone.

By 7:30, we both called it quits and ran to a nearby bar to stand outside for the address and call an Uber. If I learned one thing from Paris Fashion Week this time around is dress impressively every Paris Fashion Week because you never know what will happen.

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