One of the last things I did right before I left Paris was to go to Claude Monet's gardens at Giverny, where the Impressionist artist painted his famous water lily and bridge paintings. I went once 9 years ago and honestly it was one of the most beautiful places I can remember so I was extremely glad I got to go back.
We have been plagued by the coldest winter and summer that most people can remember here. Literally I couldn't wear sandals until this week. So of course I never wanted to go outside. People are smelly. I don't speak French half as well as I thought. There's no air conditioning (because of course on the odd days that it is hot, it's like hellfire and brimstone). And just breathing is super expensive. I remember when I first got here feeling like my little bit of money just evaporated into thin air.
But despite all this, I literally woke up one day some weeks ago, and realized that I had fallen in love with this city full of smelly people. (Seriously, it was just like that moment in Clueless when Cher realizes that she's "butt crazy in love with Josh" as shes's sitting on the steps and Celine Dion's "All By Myself" fades out and golden fountains start spouting).
And my favourite thing to do in the city is walk. I feel like Paris is a city full of juicy little secret amazing things to do and see (for free!) and walking around helps you ferret them out. In fact, I don't think three months is enough time to discover everything that can be discovered here, and I think I want to move back some time in the future (read: when I am rich) to live here for six months. A very specific 6 months mind you (March , post Carnival, to September, pre-Arctic tundra).
Until that happens I have taken some great pics on my strolls around Paris. Do enjoy!
So this post is just a short informative one to provide some background for my next post. To people without an interest in fashion, it might seem a bit dry so for you guys (and for my dudes who read my blog occasionally), you can sit this one out.
It's Fashion Week in Paris!!!
Huh? You might be scratching your head. It's not February. It's not September.
But it is Fashion Week.
So let's talk a little bit about the fashion system.
- Brands produce two main womenswear fashion collections every year for spring and summer seasons. Spring is shown in September, 6 months before the Spring selling season of the next year, and Fall is shown in February/ March, 6 months in advance of that selling season, the Fall of the current year. Simple no?
- Okay, so beyond their main collections, brands are increasingly adding pre-collections to their calendars, Pre-Fall which are shown in December/ January (for sale in July) and Resort or as the Europeans call it, Cruise collections which are shown in May/ June (for sale in January of the next year). Why these collections? Because the hugely expensive, produced fashion shows of Fall and Spring with their mindblowing pieces are staged to uphold the image of the brand. But at the end of the day fashion is a business, and dollars and sense are the bottom line. Pre-collections, which are rarely ever shown with the pomp and circumstance of the main collections, because of their transitional nature (Resort features lots of light sweaters, and jackets, while Pre-Fall can include lots of shorter length skirts and shorts) stay on the selling floor longer and translate to the bulk of commercial sales for brands.
- I'm not done. Then we have menswear collections. Though stateside menswear shows don't have its own fashion weeks, in Europe they do, most notably Pitti Uomo, and French Men's fashion week in January and June, right after the pre-collections (AKA right now!)
- Still with me? THEN we have Couture collections which show directly after men's. The Fall Couture shows began yesterday in Paris and Spring Couture takes place in January/February as well.
Whew. That's a lot. And this is just the calendar for the primary fashion weeks in Paris, London, New York and Italy (Florence and Milan). That doesn't begin to take into consideration the fashion weeks in Berlin, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and all the other world cities. And Tobago!
So basically, some designers or houses, may be producing as many as 8 separate fashion collections a year! Then when you consider some designers design for multiple brands, (like Karl Lagerfeld who at one point was designing for Chanel, Fendi, and his own label), those numbers can just get crazy.
The most ironic part about all these fashion shows ...so much of the clothing never goes into production. After Fashion Week, comes Market Week in which all the industry's buyers rush around from showroom to showroom, looking at samples and placing orders for their upcoming seasons. Buyers are focused on what's most likely to sell to their customers. If not enough buyers order a style, it gets cut. That's why you can see an amazing piece that you love on the runway, and never be able to order it (except in some European cities and on websites like Moda Operandi).
So what's my point? I'm just finishing up a Market Week internship at Opening Ceremony (woo hoo!) the US concept retailer (more about this later) and it's kind of exposed me to more of the fashion calendar than I had been previously. So I wanted to give a short background so that my next couple of posts make more sense.
So to wrap up, right now, we've gone from Cruise to Men's to Couture and then in September, Spring/Summer shows start again. So we can safely say...it's always Fashion Week somewhere.
Runway pics courtesy Style.com
Les Soldes!! Or... The sales!
Twice a year the French government mandates that all retail stores hold sales. This years Spring/ Summer collection sales started Wednesday, June 26th and go straight till the end of July!
On Wednesday you could genuinely feel the winds changing. There was a buzz in the air, people eveywhere, and traffic like Port of Spain in the rain, especially in places where there are a lot of shops like the Opera area. Even in the Metro the ticket seller asked me, "Do you know what today isssss?" in a kinda tease-y tone. Needless to say, this is a high point for Parisian shoppers.
I went into Zara just to see what the scenario was (as one usually needs money to buy things I cannot even participate in these sales which can go up to 40 or 50% off. And though I know right now there's the best selections the markdowns will be even more marked down later in the sales season. Right now Zara is discounting meager 25 percents. Somebody call me when that shit gets to like 3€ - 8€ for items). Anyway, while I don't think there was utter pandemonium, there was definite frenzy.
Even if I had money I don't think I'd be participating in the sales. First of all I don't really love anything that I've seen in stores this season. Second of all I CANNOT shop like this, grabbing garments from the clutches of other women, elbowing bitches in the ribs. I saw one woman standing in a corner guarding what I can only describe as a hoard of shoes.
And speaking of shoes:
This is not even appealing. It's not even organized by size. Like I would appreciate this more if it was at least the size 41 pile as opposed to the Lucky Dip pile.
I also stopped in at Merci, a concept store on the Boulevard Beaumarchais, to see what a bit of a higher end sale looked like. I have to admit it was unnerving for me to see brands like Isabel Marant and Carven crammed together on what looks a rack from a Marshall's in Middle America, complete with colour coded circle discount stickers. It goes to show that trendy clothes are a horrible investment, if they lose their value and their appeal a mere 4 months after they were once coveted pieces, and then exponentially after that.
I'm finally beginning to realize, though I love colour, why fashion people always dress in black. You could have a garment in the most avant garde cut and style, but if it's in black you can wear it forever. Not so much for that lime green version. Black depreciates faster.
However...you could always just spend the money on shoes instead;)
There are many great things about the Paris metro. It serves the city extremely well and wherever you are you're pretty close to at least 3 metro stations to select from. And the time that you have to spend on the metro is quite short as the distances from one station to another can be like a minute of traveling time, unlike some subway systems I can name ( London I'm lookin at you!)
But those short minutes you spend on the metro can be the most unpleasant minutes of your day.
Firstly, an open message to large groups of tourists, if one person in your party is purchasing tickets for all of you, all of you do NOT need to stand up in the line. Furthermore, when your dude buys the tickets can you move out of the line to do your distribution process?? There are other people behind you and you're being dicks.
Secondly, the Paris Metro has HIGH levels of crazy. Super high. From the man the other day who was clearly suffering from French Tourette's, to the pregnant and clearly strung out on drugs lady begging on the train to yesterday's grizzly gentleman in what looked like and orange prison shirt completely unbuttoned with his entire Santa Clause (without the jolliness) size hairy belly on display, breezing out in the seats across from me. He was scary. And starey. He stared at everyone.
Oh and to the mister who was diggin his nose super hard in the metro for ten minutes jus now and LOOKING AT IT...yuh nasty.
The Paris metro also has high gross factor. I would love to tell you that the stereotype about the French and their aversion to showering isn't true but my mother didn't raise a liar. Added to that, not all trains are air conditioned, so as summer creeps up on us every step into a metro car or elevator is like a game of Smell Roulette. Smell Roulette is a losing game.
Oh and a Syrian-Taiwanese and a very tall Austrian.
Last November I bought three tickets for my roommates in Shanghai and I to see Rihanna in Paris at the Stade de France. It seemed like a lifetime away at the time, but then we blinked and we were printing the tickets.
The concert seemed massive when we were there, but when we heard how many people it really was, I couldn't believe it. I googled it to make sure she wasn't lying. This was Rihanna's first stadium show ever, and it completely sold out. All sorts of (French) celebrities were in the crowd on our side of the stadium and we kept having to ask people around us, "Who's that? Who's that?" as the crowd in the stands next to us would go crazy pulling out phones and snapping away. We had David Guetta's wife, the vibesiest woman alive cheering on her man as he opened for Rih, and eventually David Guetta himself joined her after his performance. Also Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who had just made it to the semifinals of the French Open (guess who had to Wikipedia that!!) was in attendance along with some French Comic buddies.
Anyway the Frenchies were of course dying over their David Guetta (like the biggest house music party I've ever been too) but when Riri started belting out "We Found Love" ... well, I've never seen anything like it.
We didn't realize how many people it was until all 80,000 of us were fighting to get back on the RER train after the show and I had to use my Trickidadian side to get us home without spending hours in line (they were only crowd controling the travellers heading to Paris so I suggested we simply take the train in the other direction one stop and then hop on over to the other side of the track and go back the way we came. Genius!!!) I was in my bed in under an hour.
My obsession with Rihanna is no secret but I think this is a good time as any to reveal the motivations behind my intense girlcrush. And really it's super simple.
So here it is.
Are you ready?
I don't think Rihanna is super special.
Surprised yet? Read on.
When I look at Rihanna I see a young girl from Barbados with a lot of charisma and great style. But that comes a dime a dozen. To me, she's no different from my good friend Joanne, my former roommate Krista, any of my other friends, or even me. She's just a regular island girl who just got lucky.
And then she took that lucky chance and she made it her bitch.
And now, this girl, who professes that she's just "from left side of an island" is selling out 80,000 seat venues in France because she's tenacious and she refuses to let go of the opportunities she's been given. And that shit's inspiring to me.
And what's even more exciting is that there's still things she hasn't done and places she can go. After 7 years and 7 albums, she only just achieved a number 1 record in the US for the first time with "Unapologetic". Every new single that goes to the top of the charts breaks her own records. And she just played her first stadium tour.
So when I see Rihanna I feel like I have the biggest balls in the world. I see what a girl from the Caribbean is capable of. Not that I want 80,000 people knowing my name, but every opportunity I get, I'm about to make it my bitch too and jus keep building and doing better cause there's no too high or too successful for me. And I believe any other regular girl from the Caribbean can do the same.
Pics courtesy Sarah, Melissa Forde Instagram