When You Arrive Uninvited and Fully Dressed at Paris Fashion Week, What Occurs?

Paris Fashion Week: Fans Flock to the Streets to Experience the Extravaganza

A crowd began to form in the rain on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., outside of the Grand Palais Ephémère in Paris. Onlookers lined the barricades, stood on concrete pillars, and flooded into the street, awaiting the Chanel spring 2024 runway, which began at 10:30 a.m. A little drizzle wasn’t going to stop these people from experiencing the event, if only from the street.

Paris Fashion Week prompts a city-sweeping dégueuler de la mode. The nine-day extravaganza was jam-packed with shows, presentations, dinners, and events. Editors, writers, buyers, stylists, creators, and celebrities flocked to the City of Light for a myriad of reasons (work, networking, the thrill of the scene). But surrounding the excitement, exhaustion, and occasional jadedness from industry insiders was another group of fashion week attendees: the fans. Collectively, they are as much of a fixture at fashion week as editors, celebrities, and photographers. Undeterred by the lack of formal invitation and causing a slight nuisance (occasional screaming, crammed walkways), fanatics from around the world came to Paris just to feel like part of it all. While the traditional fashion hierarchy would suggest that outside the shows is not the place to be, the warm energy inside the crowds suggested otherwise.

## The Fans: A Vital Part of Paris Fashion Week

One might assume that the hordes at Paris Fashion Week were first and foremost waiting for the celebrities: front-row regulars like Jennie Kim, Zendaya, or Kylie Jenner. And certainly, some were. But the throngs of people in Paris were just as full with fashion enthusiasts who wanted to get as close as possible to the designers and their worlds. Some attended just to people-watch; still others were content creators snapping photos.

“It’s not just about the celebrities, like some people may think,” said Malek Elimam, a 22-year-old designer who came to Paris from Algeria to bear witness to Louis Vuitton’s show—or at least the exterior of the new, under-construction Champs-Élysées store where the catwalk was held on Monday. Dressed in a bubblegum-pink silk wrap dress and a leather corset Malek made herself, she explained that she came to Paris (with her brother, also a fashion fan) to promote her work and to find inspiration for her own line. “This is my first year. We went to Dior, Coperni, Schiaparelli, Saint Laurent, and Vivienne Westwood.”

Elimam finds the locations easily on TikTok and Twitter. “When I’m here, I feel like I’m part of a team. I bond with people who share my passion. I get inspired and make friends… She’s one of them!” She gestured to a fellow fan she met earlier that week outside of the Dior show (they started talking because they liked each other’s outfits). Among the Louis Vuitton crowd, spectators wore signature Pochette or Speedy bags. Others disregarded house codes in favor of personal style. “When you’re here, you feel understood,” Elimam explained. “You can express yourself. We don’t have that as much at home.”

## Dreams and Aspirations of the Fans

Other fans have the same desire to belong, but different dreams. “My biggest goal is to walk in a Louis Vuitton show,” said Vic Cayo, a 20-year-old who flew in from New York for runway castings. She didn’t book, but she decided to stay in Paris for the experience and slight chance that she gets a last-minute callback. “I love the environment. When I’m surrounded by people who also love fashion, it makes me feel like I’m learning about the industry,” she said. While the runway is still in the distance, she sees being in Paris as a good step. “I didn’t end up getting to walk this season, but I know that I have to keep my mind really positive and keep showing up.”

Suddenly, interrupting our conversation, there were screams—VIP-arrival screams. “Jaden! Jaden Smith!” someone yelled. For Cayo, Smith isn’t a focus. “I’m here to network. Sure, people can scream and get excited about famous people,” she commented as the crowd settled again. “But they’re just people. At every level in this industry, everyone is a fan of something. I think that when you show up for whatever it is you love, good things happen.”

Original Story at www.vogue.com – 2023-10-09 15:01:14

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