22 Mar What I Learned From PFW
Being stationed in Paris comes with its set of perks. One being the arts and culture scene — predominately fashion. In fact, it’s probably one thing most people associate with Paris. For me, I’ve been more involved and interested in fashion ever since I’ve started taking up photography. I should say rather, I’m more interested in capturing people’s expressions and faces, but I love how we can decorate ourselves in makeup or clothes and suddenly it takes on a whole new feel. It’s akin to cooking; vegetables on their own aren’t anything special, but cook them together with spices and herbs and suddenly it’s something quite amazing.
February is Paris Fashion Week’s Prêt à Porter, where the biggest labels come out and show off their fall/winter collection. Tickets for this show are invitational only, so for me to go I had to have an ‘in’. Unfortunately, none of my links panned out, but that didn’t deter me from getting out and seeing it for myself.
Adding to the complexity, none of the show’s locations were listed — so I did some Instagram sleuthing. I went back and checked out where most of the big labels would have their shows and saw the patterns and made a list of 3 places to try: Le Grand Palais, Musée de l’Armée, and Palais de Tokyo. Lucky for me I was 3 for 3, and I got to see the sights of Chanel, Agnès B and Ellery.
I don’t know why, but I figured I’d be one of few photographers amongst a pool of guests trying to make their way in. Boy was I wrong. Photogs everywhere, people everywhere, the chaos of fashion. It was kind of interesting, there were no barriers, no red carpet, just a mass of people walking the streets making their way in. Sometimes you’d see someone get out of an Uber Black car and photographers would rush and huddle around their target. At times I felt like a fish out of water, my knowledge on today’s current influencers in fashion is… let’s say limited.
Okay, I thought to myself, now how do I take photographs of these strangers. I observed. I saw this one photographer, cool, calm, seemed to know most people on a first name basis. He approached people he knew, smiled, laughed and asked for their photo which in return they graciously obliged. Others he didn’t know he simply tapped on their shoulder and asked if he could take their photo, either in French or by pointing to his camera. In and out.
My turn. I did the point, I asked, and everyone was more than willing. Of course they were you ninny, they’re at a fashion show, they want their photo taken. It was a fun rush, but my goal was, (as it always is), to take photos of interesting people. I mean, respect goes out to these designers and influencers but at the end of the day, they’re not on a pedestal for me. I noticed a few photographers that had a great style and look, and asked to take their photos. Many were taken aback and were kind of shocked I wanted their photo.
Next stop, Musée de l’Armée. This was more of what I was expecting. It was really only myself and another photographer there. I’m surprised because the backdrop was breathtaking. Here’s where things got a little more complicated. Because there was more open space, the people I was taking photos of had more opportunity to have a dialogue with me. On a few occasions, they were asking who I worked for, where it’ll be used. I was caught off guard. Sometimes I’d respond DSCRBD (my video blog), and sometimes I said for my personal blog. I got the impression though as soon as they heard it wasn’t anything of substance they immediately walked off. The value of importance.
After a delicious burger, I made my last stop at the Palais de Tokyo. This felt more of a paparazzi crowd than anything else, and kind of turned me off. Still landed a few fun shots, but the fatigue crept in and I chose to call it a day.
What have I learned out of all of this? Well, this simple exercise brought me out of my shell, as I’m naturally introverted. I really love pushing myself out of this specific element because I get a glimpse of how much fun things can be. The following days, buzzing off the event, I went up to interesting strangers and asked if I could take their photo. The chance of rejection would be higher but at the end of the day what would I have to lose. Additionally, I learned to have a bit more value in my representation. What I mean by this is not to be embarrassed what I’m taking these photos for, even if it’s for personal use. (And to not forget my business cards next time!)
Out of it all, a few designers and bloggers added me on Instagram, and I’ve gained a bit more appreciation for this sector of design. A fun experience I hope to try again, and I highly urge you within your creative field or hobby to try one small thing that you might find daunting. Even if it’s just biting off a small piece of it just to see how it tastes, you might surprise yourself! As always you can check out more pieces on my Instagram here.
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Also published on Medium.