I am learning that during the manic preparations for fashion week, especially for a young designer in the cut-throat Paris fashion industry, one must be prepared for EVERYTHING to go wrong at the last minute. I had already seen Sibylle, Lambert and Linda (the 3rd member of the BaronBaronne team) navigate their way through a potential minefield of problems, ranging from discrepancies over the material used for the t-shirts, to their factory failing to deliver the new handbags intended to be the main focus of the showroom.
The latest in a series of last minute disasters struck yesterday afternoon. The BaronBaronne team arrived at the gallery whilst I remained behind and continued to pester as many poor, harassed (pah!) buyers as possible. Despite the fact that Lambert and Linda had practically sprinted the entire way from Barcelona in order to calmly prepare the gallery for the next morning, as they were an hour or so later than expected the owner would have none of it! I was outraged by this when I heard and banged on for ages about just how selfish I though it was for the gallery owner to have SUCH a lack of understanding…surely it would have been possible to keep the place open for 1 measly hour etc, etc The others simply seemed resigned to the fact and replied, ‘we’re in Paris’… Well, indeed we are and it seems that here the fashionistas don’t play nice!
As you might imagine, tensions were running a little high as I arrived at the lovely Galerie Cadain (below) on thursday morning. This wasn’t helped by the fact that we then spent a good hour assembling hanging rails on the street as, naturally, the owner was late.
When Sibylle told me to wear something fairly smart and dark (read: smart-casual, my all-time FAVOURITE dress code) I thought lovingly of my leather pencil skirt and practically jumped for joy. I teamed it with a super-soft grey COS t-shirt, my army green jacket with the petit shoulder pads, black brogues, black bag and big, black sunglasses. Overall I think it was a successful ‘first showroom day’ look… The black pieces are smart but the fact that they are leather and combined with this utility-esque jacket keeps the whole thing on-trend and more ‘fashion intern’ less ‘secretary’. Sibylle of course looked AMAZING, although by now I have come to count her among my all-time style icons and would expect nothing less. I am so jealous of these buckled Alexander McQueen shoes that it almost pains me to look at them! I love her tailored, slightly androgynous style and just hope that one-day I can be so effortlessly elegant.
One by one the other designers arrived at the gallery and began to meticulously unpack, organise, steam and re-organise their pieces. I tried to be as helpful as possible but to be honest I was so over-excited and by this point over-caffeinated that I spent the next couple of hours flitting around introducing myself and chatting to the other designers, taking photos and probably being really quite annoying.
I did worry that I may have got in everyone’s way a bit, possibly resulting in a communal irritation with me and my camera by the end of the first morning… Oh well, it was all worth it in the end as now I can provide you with a virtual tour of ‘Another Showroom’…
Above: Spanish designer Juan Antonio Avalos with his friend and press assistant, Veronica. They were SO friendly and tolerant of me rifling through their pieces… I also found them to be a real laugh when I dragged them onto the dance floor with me at the after-party because everyone else was too tired/ busy mingling/had gone home (lame)… but more on that later…
Above and Below are pictured Vienna based design duo ‘Superated’. As you can see they were busy perfecting their area of the showroom as I pounced with my camera. Designers may spend months working 20 hour days during the design, production and preparation stages for fashion week but once the showroom starts things certainly don’t relax! You have to be on constant alert in case a buyer wanders in, with your clothes steamed immaculately and ready to leap in and sell your brand.
During the past few days I have poked around a few other showrooms conveniently also located on the Rue Quincampox. I can say without bias that the layout of ours (and yes, I am counting myself as a fully-fleged member of the BaronBaronne team) was second to none. Gallery Cadain is spacious, light and set over 2 floors. Each brand had it’s own little area in which to display their pieces. It was interesting to see how dramatically the style of the pieces and the designers themselves differed just feet away from each other.
This is young, Milan based designer Umberto Sannino who is currently working for Italian brand Intuitive. He was absolutely lovely and we’ve had a lot of fun over the past few days drinking far too much champagne (after showroom hours obviously) and dancing the night away at various Parisian clubs. We all spent friday morning in a state of extreme anxiety as we awaited the arrival of the errant handbags. The factory had given their word that the bags would be delivered by 10am sharp… Unfortunately it was no surprise when frantic calls were still being made at 12.30 as they naturally hadn’t turned up. But at last the bags arrived! And only a causal 4 hours late too!
As you can see, they were well worth the wait and the stress levels as they are gorgeous… all classic shapes, tasteful buckle detailing, buttery soft leather and practically good enough to eat. As you know I have a bit of a handbag fetish so imagine how crazy I went over these…
Baron Baronne’s petit collection at ‘Another Showroom’ was made up of mixed leather accessories. As well as the bags (which I pretty much had to be forcibly removed from in the end) there were these beautiful belts. As someone with a major weakness for good-quality materials, I couldn’t get enough of them…
For the t-shirts, Sibylle drew inspiration from old French drawings and re-designed them to give them a modern, funny twist. Here is the motif from my personal favourite… Drôle, vous ne pensez pas ?
The rest of the day was SO much fun. Sibylle and Linda had the idea of decorating the BaronBaronne area of the gallery with pictures of their pieces… And guess who got to prance around all afternoon modelling them?… Moi!
I spent most of friday afternoon in a state of complete over-excitement. Not only had the day of the long-awaited (by me anyway) after party finally arrived, but I also found out that GIVENCHY were also hosting their own soirée at Paris hotspot Chacha club the very same evening!
Chacha club is apparently the current late night destination of choice for Paris’s fashion elite. As you would expect the queue stretched halfway up the Rue Rambuteau and I had never seen so many beautiful and sickeningly stylish people in one place before in my life. The champagne was flowing, Kitsune was on the decks, there was an INDOOR smoking area with velvet sofa’s and all in all (or at least, from what I can remember) the night was well worth the two week build-up I had given it!
The next morning I was more than a little hungover and it took every ounce of self-discipline I had not to spend the whole day curled up in a ball of self-pity in bed. I was also severely tempted just to crawl in to work wearing the most comfortable pyjama-esque clothes I could find, but I managed to restrain myself. Appearances must be kept up after all!
By day 3 the showroom was in full swing and looking fantastic. I thought I should probably write a bit about the 5 brands involved as there was a total mix of up-and-coming designers from different European countries which made ‘Another Showroom’ all the more interesting. Their styles (and personalities) may have been vastly different to one another but they all had one in common: they were totally passionate about what they do and are determined to make it in the competitive fashion industry.
Juan Antonio, who studied under the direction of Bernhard Wilhelm, got rave reviews at Barcelona fashion week for his Fall/Winter 2010/11 collection. The pieces all have a sporty, urban and undeniably modern feel to them, using technological fabrics and semi-flourescent colours. This t-shirt is my favourite piece from the collection…
I really like how the green ‘pops’ against the plain white T, and the material was SO soft and lovely… stripes+good quality material… Is it any surprise that this was my favourite piece? Juan explained to me that this collection was inspired by the armour of medieval knights. Looking at this piece (the stripes are reminiscent of a shield maybe?) and the blinding silver jacket I can definitely see that.
Superated designer Peter Holzinger studied at the University of applied Arts in Vienna under the guidance of Veronique Branquinho. In 2005 he teamed up with Christian Moser to found the label which is still based in Vienna. After chatting with Peter and Christian over multiple cigarettes (we’re in Paris, working in fashion, of course we all smoke) about their hometown I have now convinced myself that I must take a mini-break to beautiful Vienna IMMEDIATELY and have already started formulating vague plans about jetting off there in the near future… mmmmm…. anyway, moving on from my day dream… Don’t you just LOVE this jacket?
Ok, at some point I may need to seek help for my addiction to all things green and stripy but you have to admit that this tailored jacket is adorable. There was also a pair of mint-green, pin-striped trousers to match! Definitely the kind of thing I might try to bully my boyfriend into, but somehow I don’t think he’d be too keen.
To quote their website,
“t w e n t y (2) t o o is the all new “fashion fun” concept and the celebration of a personal style, mixing street fun ironic details and classical tailoring, in order to create an impeccably cut and sewn piece, and a true collector’s piece to cherish for a long time.
Valuing the traditional savoir-faire and very much inspired both by urban jungles and Romanian peasant lifestyle, t w e n t y (2) t o o does not intend to change the world, but to change the way to approach it, with fun and a hint of irony”
Well, I don’t think I could have put it a whole lot better myself… although being honest I can’t particularly see where the element of ‘Romanian peasant’ comes in to a collection that is mainly made up of tailored pieces with modern twists such as removable sleeves.
Intuitive owner and art directer Rico studied at Florence Architecture University before founding the label. He told me that the inspiration behind his brand was to fuse punk Anglo-Saxon soul with Italy’s strong tailoring tradition to give each piece it’s own unique character. Extreme attention to the materials used and their composition is at the core of the Intuitive philosophy and every piece is 100% handmade… So producing a collection must be pretty time consuming work!
I have to say it was this trench coat that caught my eye the most… although intuitive designer Umberto wore one of their detailed black jackets extremely well at the after-party.
I also stumbled across the showroom for Opening Ceremony and various other equally delectable brands on a mid-afternoon iced latte hunt. Having managed to walk past this cute red-fronted gallery (below) at least a hundred times on my travels without noticing all the fashion booty inside I just couldn’t resist having a poke around.
Unfortunately you’re going to have to make do with just a tiny glimpse of the wonders within as frankly I didn’t have a hope in hell of being allowed to get any pictures of the clothes themselves. When I entered the gallery and explained that I was working at a showroom down the road, I thought my VERY polite request to just have a little look around was perfectly reasonable and if anything quite flattering to everyone there! Apparently I was wrong as at best I was greeted with extreme suspicion and with nothing short of open hostility by a few of the terrifyingly stylish assistants! Well the fashion world certainly is an extremely competitive one and maybe they thought I was spying on them on behalf of rival designers… Although, to be honest I really don’t know just how much my ‘insider knowledge’ of the layout of the Opening Ceremony clothes rails could be used to undermine them!
I spent sunday night recovering from my champagne cocktails and dancing induced fatigue (the best kind) with the help of Desperate Housewives, sweet lemon grooming products from The Body Shop and lots and lots of tea. If you take one piece of advice from this blog let it be to invest in a MegaVideo account NOW! You will never be bored or lacking in brand new episodes of The Hills again… Anyway, after a hectic weekend of work and play my night of pampering was so, so needed and I finally felt human again as I arrived at the showroom bright and early on monday morning. As the buyer from Galeries Lafayette was meant to be coming that day (emphasis on the MEANT) I arrived early, but when Monsieur Denis had still not turned up by lunchtime I thought I’d better get back on the dreaded phone and try to work out where he had got to. Half an hour and about 6 non-English speaking Galeries Lafayette employees later I eventually got hold of his slightly overwhelmed intern. She told me that Mr Denis was out at meetings and she had no idea whatsoever when he’d be back or what his schedule was. Now I am in no position to start slagging off interns and I can imagine how stressful it must be working for a buyer during fashion week having spent the past 10 days madly harassing them myself, but she really was not helpful. I tried unsuccessfully to get hold of his mobile number and unlike so many other assistants from whom I’ve tried to obtain this only reliable means of contacting the elusive buyers, when she said she didn’t have it I actually believed her. In the I had to settle with emailing poor old Mr Denis a few more times before finally giving up. Another day, another lesson learned about fashion buyers: not only are they bloody impossible to get hold of, they are also prone to missing appointments with no word of warning or apology… I possibly now want to be one more than ever.
As per usual, Sibylle looked impossibly chic in that nonchalant, French way of hers. The trousers are by BaronBaronne, aren’t they just a beautifully crafted item of clothing? I wouldn’t mind a pair myself…
After an extremely long day followed by a good hour or two of cleaning up (I do not remember assembling quite so many clothes rails on thursday!) I finally headed home for a quick shower and outfit change. No matter how knackered I was (again, the clothes rails were definitely to blame) a glass or two of delicious rosè later I was more than ready to celebrate the end of a successful showroom and the start of a few well-earned days off with a night in the moulin-rouge style clubs of Pigalle.
Love Ella. X