So a week after finishing all 6 days of London, I re-joined the fashion circus in Paris, for 9 days of shows and exhibitions. Unlike London though, where I was there purely to see the shows for myself, at Paris I was shooting for New York based magazine, The Dirty Durty Diary.
I've always said my worst nightmare job would be in the pit at a fashion show, and after 9 days of it my opinion hasn't changed much. Pit photographers are quite territorial, and mark out there position and defend it to the death haha! I'm just too placid and laid back to fight for position. Plus, most of the central positions will be taken at least an hour before the start of the show, so if you're doing lots of shows, you'll never get in the middle. Thankfully, I've always preferred to shoot models from low, so sitting on the floor at the front worked well for me anyway... although I did often end up with a sore arse!
This was my first time at Paris Fashion Week, and I naively expected it to be a similar sort of affair to it's London counterpart. London, like New York, is very press focussed and there's a great buzz around the shows, and Somerset House with street style photographers shooting the hundreds of fashionistas as they mill about outside. Conversely, Paris is very much focussed towards the buyers market, with much less time for press (and in some cases, no time at all!).
Another key difference is the sheer amount of distance between each show! The fashion A listers have the luxury of sponsored Mercedes' to ferry them about, but the rest of us have to either walk, or use the Paris Metro. After 9 days of dodging in between scooters and smart cars, and running up and down metro staircases, I now have calves of steel! Haha!
The week started badly. Due to the inept French postal service, we arrived at our apartment to an empty mailbox, rather than a wad of pretty invites. After a few phonecalls and some visits to PR agencies, our week soon filled up with appointments. I need to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Thomas, Mesh, Olivier and Felina at Relative Mo who were absolutely awesome and helped to rescue what could have been a disaster!
Highlights of the week were going back stage before Zac Posen, meeting people like André Leon Talley, and Paul & Joe's epic anniversary show with my favourite model, Abbey Lee Kershaw, and then an awesome finale and concert from Jamiroquai! Massive thank you to Harriet at HPR for that one!
Because of it being more aimed at the buyers, Paris Fashion Week has a lot more designer exhibitions, and many of them showcase some amazing British designers. Was great to chat to Nicola from Beautiful Soul, Eugene Lin, KTZ and Analeena. Felicities PR were there too with some awesome light sensitive pieces from Rainbow Winters as well as Ada Zanditon, who's collection has one of the most amazing back stories I've ever heard!
From a photographic point of view, shooting catwalk shows presents very few real challenges. The most important part is making sure you have a good position to shoot from. Most of the bigger shows have amazing lighting and a massive bank of lights behind the pit to ensure that everything looks good. Once you've got your exposure settings sorted, all the remains is to click click click. For me, the most important thing about selecting a shot to send to a magazine is to make sure the models legs are in a pleasing position and that she's not blinking. Then repeat for every outfit of the collection.
Of course as I demonstrated at London Fashion Week, I usually prefer to shoot wider and in black and white, when I have no client to please, so I also had my trusty Olympus PEN with me to shoot some stuff for myself too!
So with Paris done and dusted, I'm now incredibly motivated and inspired. I made some great new contacts, and saw a lot of friendly faces. Over the next month or so I've got some exciting things to plan, and some awesome people to meet for coffee!