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

PARIS, February 28 — Bonjour from backstage at Dior Fall 2013. Whilst Raf’s graceful machine purrs elegantly in the background, I will recount the previous day’s proceedings at the helm of Wilhelmina’s social media starship.

My second day in Paris proved eventful and included backstage access to both Rick Owens and Lanvin. Soo Joo featured in the pair of shows, thereby providing continuity between otherwise separate worlds. Rick Owens’ fall collection, “Plinth” as it is called, proved a breezy affair. The base of the runway was outfitted with wind machines that swept all and sundry that passed through the powerful airstream inside the cavernous space. 

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

Hair by Luigi Murenu was duly blown out, ironed, teased, crimped, heated, reheated and teased some more so that when it passed before the high velocity wind tunnel danced wildly to the show’s operatic score. The hair was roughly the same as the American designer’s corresponding men’s show in January, but the difference for Thursday’s show was that these 'dos were no wigs! Just ask Soo Joo, who was more than relieved to undergo some deep conditioning à la triage by Guido’s team at Lanvin.

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

This was my third season in Paris and also my third time at Rick Owens and for good reason, he's a favorite designer of mine. The airplane hangar of a runway is made entirely of poured concrete and sits at the belly of the sports arena called the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy. Yohji Yamamoto shows in the exact same space, which ought to give an inkling of its no-nonsense appeal. The toilets in the hulking facility that was erected in 1984 carry adverts for French Ice Hockey, which is something the toilets at l'Hôtel de Ville, Balmain's venue, do not.

Backstage Diaries: Paris Fashion Week with Wilhelmina’s Damien NevaImmediately following the Rick Owens show I dashed to Lanvin via the Metro — Soo Joo by chauffeured scooter. Taxis are to be avoided. No sooner do you bag one at a taxi stand, than it becomes a nearly immovable object in the paralyzing Parisian traffic. Lanvin was striking its signature buoyant tone at the École des Beaux-Arts.

The festive, circus-like atmosphere of Alber Elbaz’s show was made explicit in the accessories exclaiming love and happiness — the storied French house, after all, goes hard for the cartoon hearts. Elisabeth Erm, for example, wore such messaged necklaces for her first look. The hair by Guido was tied back and radiated a natural, effortless sex appeal, perfect for Lanvin. 

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

Upon the show's conclusion, teams of Lanvin boys could be seen fanning out from backstage with trays of popcorn housed in diminutive carnival boxes. Sorry, no picture, I do not fancy popped corn.

Many thanks to Soo Joo and Elisabeth Erm for their help on this second day in Paris. 

 

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