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

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

PARIS, March 4 — On Monday, Paris Fashion Week sallied forth with intent and saw me backstage at three shows starting with Stella McCartney. All hands were on deck in the darkness of an early Parisian morning in March at Stella McCartney. Hair and makeup from Eugene Souleiman and Pat McGrath respectively ensured beauty was on point. Ava Smith was in the show, look #8, which consisted of a navy blue dress with white pinstripes, a black riding cap and grey boots. The show was held at Palais Garnier, home of Opéra de Paris, whose palatial, gold leaf details in hair and makeup could not be further removed from any show ever listed on the Lincoln Center manifest during Mercedes-Benz Fashion, etc. and so on. The first Instagram I posted from backstage proved a hit. Followers on the East Coast would have noticed it in their feed after midnight, it was a detail of the chandelier and ceiling in hair and makeup (right). Modest affair, really, compared to the main runway that twinkled golden light (below) with all its encrusted details.

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

Following the show I took the rear entrance to the street, which was an idea Bono and his coterie shared. No Instagram this time, sorry. I then hoofed it backstage to the Giambattista Valli show in which Ava (below) and Elisabeth Erm were cast. Orlando Pita and Val Garland were handling hair and makeup respectively. The backstage was one floor below the runway in a raw space with harsh, industrial lighting. Exposed concrete walls left chalky impressions on anything that touched the surface. At ground level, however the show space gleamed with modern Italian details from the white, rectangular bench seating to the undulating band of lighting elements suspended over the runway.

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

At show time, Coco Rocha was seated front row, but a few benches down from Alexandra Richards, daughter of Patti Hansen and Keith Richards and Wilhelmina Models compadre. Coco faced a phalanx of journalists and photographers clamoring for a quotation, a usable portrait of any kind of the supermodel and current star of The Face on Oxygen. Despite the mob scene, Coco spotted me and made time to speak with me on camera. I was expecting a word about Giambattista Valli, Paris Fashion Week, or perhaps even the latest from Team Coco, but instead she paid me a tremendous compliment. I turned on the camera and immediately she talked about what a good job (her words) I am doing for social media at Wilhelmina Models. I don't mention this to humble brag, but rather to illustrate the genuine class she, a global celebrity, has. Coco didn't talk about herself once and yet would have been entitled to carry on without a comma. Make no mistake, Coco Rocha is the genuine article. As an aside, I have a bit of on-camera history with Coco that goes back a couple seasons, but that's a diary entry for another day!

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

After Valli, in a moment of transit weakness, I hopped into a taxi with Elisabeth and my colleague José. Together we traveled over to Emanuel Ungaro for my third and final show for Monday. Guido's team was running the hair dryers at full tilt whilst Tom Pecheux's team were executing every exquisite makeup detail for Fausto Puglisi's first collection for the house. Sung Hee Kim was also cast in the show. She has such a charming character! She smiles with her eyes like no one I have ever filmed. Whether she's waving hello or raising a coffee cup, her every on-camera action demands an animated GIF. Tumblr, get to work!

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

Elisabeth's juggernaut of a season continued apace with her opening the show wearing a geometric print top, large white polka dots over a navy field, and a belted, yellow cream skirt. Backstage I overheard Puglisi describing the collection being for a stylish Parisian woman living in Los Angeles in the 1970s. To that end, Puglisi chose David Bowie's "Scream Like a Baby" off Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980). Excellent choice, Fausto, I can picture this woman, it is in fact, Elisabeth Erm.


All images courtesy Damien Neva for Wilhelmina Models


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