Runway News

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien Neva

NEW YORK, March 6 — Despite there having been one final Vuitton-Miu-Miu-shaped box of Paris Fashion Week to tick before the Fall 2013 runway season closed, I nevertheless sprung an early exit aboard the proverbial "last helicopter out of Saigon" before the Fall 2013 season truly fell. My Wednesday morning flight to JFK was without incident and its eight and half hour duration afforded me the generous window of sleep that had otherwise eluded me all week in Paris. 

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien Neva

I spent much of the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week with Marike Le Roux backstage at Hermès, but not before I had a quick ça va with Manon Leloup and Elisabeth Erm at Valentino over in the Tuileries. Elisabeth was coming from Chanel, for whom she had walked earlier that morning at the Grand Palais. The smile on Elisabeth's face (above) announced just the sort of week this young model experienced after having walked for the week's giants — Lanvin, Dior, Givenchy, Chanel and Valentino, amongst others. After chatting with the girls outside the tents in the unseasonably temperate Parisian air, I switched gears and set out to make the 15h00 call time at Hermès in the fifth arrondissement.

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien Neva

In another moment of transit weakness, I took a gamble on a taxi, which unfortunately only confirmed my other bad experiences on quatre roues by slowing to a halt in the debilitating Parisian traffic. I eventually made it to Lycée Henri-IV, which is yet another of the Fifth Republic's capital's average, breathtaking buildings, situated mere blocks from the Sorbonne. Once inside the building, I strolled about the runway, which was arranged in a long wing of a library in what looked like a reading room. Leather-bound volumes lined the walls behind protective metal grating, which gave an indication of the no-doubt historical importance of the library's holdings. The surroundings screamed history, bookish history at that, which made perfect sense in relation to Hermès, the luxury leather goods maker founded in 1837.

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien Neva

I met Marike in makeup, which was being handled by Carole Colambani. Marike's new Jean Seberg-inspired short crop made quick work for the show's hair stylist, Odile Gilbert. With hours to while away until show time, Marike took advantage of the masseuses backstage in makeup for a much-needed massage. I was struck by this thoughtful gesture of the client's toward its models for the evening. The act looked a natural extension of the brand's ethos. Hermès apparently only bestows the title of artisan on its bag makers after they have spent ten years creating by hand the brand's coveted bags. Fast fashion Hermès is not!

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien Neva

Marike's look for the show was a double-faced cashmere bomber and a crocodile skirt and she was dressed in her first looks before all the other models. Her punctuality meant she was the first model to stand before the scrum of assembled first looks photographers. Marike stood before the illuminated white backdrop turning this way and that, flashing a smile or two, and all the while speaking volumes without saying a word. Marike has a confidence, a magnetism that will make her a muse to many a designer and photographer alike for years to come. I was fortunate to capture much of the scene on video that I have just described before the show began. 

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien Neva

I concluded New York Fashion Week with Marike backstage and on the runway at Marc Jacobs and so it was only appropriate that I closed Paris Fashion Week with her at Hermès.

That is all for the Fall 2013 runway season. Special thanks to The Fashion Spot for offering me this generous opportunity to keep this diary. Thanks to Wilhelmina, its models, my colleagues, and my dear wife for making Fall 2013 such a success.

All images courtesy Damien Neva for Wilhelmina Models


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