Kenzo Backstage Fall/Winter 2015.
Paris Fashion Week
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These Kenzo backstage images come to you with a funny story. Kenzo is one of those events at Paris Fashion Week that I have historically missed for some reason or another: Season one, I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t get acquire the address; season three, I’d gone out to a party and missed the last metro and ended up staying out (because I was stranded!) until 5am; season four, I had the address and did wake up on time, only somehow took a wrong transfer on the metro and ended up missing everything. Kenzo is that one show in Paris that is habitually on the outskirts of town, so one can’t just stumble into it; arriving requires some forethought and planning. The great thing about rooming with a house full of photographers who share one key though ensures that when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. And we can’t go the wrong way.
I had no appointment to photograph Kenzo backstage, that is until we were about three stops away on the metro and I suddenly received this semi-frantic text from my editor at Grazia—my confirmation had only just arrived. “Try to get in!” she stamped. The only problem was that we weren’t exactly arriving early for this one (like I said, Kenzo was far.) Quick tangent: to most people, a backstage pass is just that; you get a pass, you go backstage, you hang out. In fashion (and it’s cousin, music), there are actually two levels of backstage pass: the makeup & beauty pass, which is what happens before rehearsals with models arriving and being put into hair and makeup, is commonly referred to as the backstage pass. Then there’s the more coveted first looks pass, which covers everything that happens after the runthrough rehearsal, but most importantly, models dressing into the first outfits that will be seen on the runway. Some companies are only concerned with the beauty aspect of backstage activity, but every photographer would stay for first looks if it were possible. Sometimes if the space is right, you can isolate models, get them to pose, and take detail shots of the clothes. When done right, it can be the most compelling aspect of a show, even more so than what’s seen on the runway. Just know that first looks access are a rare bird; for Kenzo I was granted backstage access. Which is nothing to sneeze at.
By the time I’d arrived, the rehearsal was already in progress. I frantically changed the settings on my camera and tried to capture the models as they exited the runway but it was a no-go—my shutter was too slow. And then a hand on a my shoulder; I’d been informed that it was time for me to leave. Now granted, not getting photos wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world seeing as how I’d only just received the OK to be there at all just minutes prior, but still… it sucked. I stood in the middle of this vast expanse of a warehouse looking around at all of the activity, the fact that the models were already dressed and the fact that I couldn’t photograph any of it. I made my way to the door and took my sad time about it. Just as I got to the exit, something made me stop short—technically, it wasn’t over until I stepped outside. I turned and leaned against the wall. I wasn’t outside. And then, three or four photographers arrive at the door from outside looking to get it. “Sorry,” said security, “No more photographers. It’s too late, we’re full.” The photographers of course put up a resistance and tried to talk their way in—they had the same backstage pass. A PR girl was within eyeshot, so they called her over and explained their case. “Sorry,” she said, “but we’re doing first looks now.” Thinking that was it, I stepped off the wall to exit. The PR girl turned and saw me, as did the security guard and the photographers outside the door. I said the first thing that materialised in my head:
“I was already here.”
The PR girl paused for a beat, but the security guard—bless him—chimed right in. “Yes, you were here, you’re OK.” The church bells rang out. Thirty doves were released into the clear blue sky. And with a determined strut in slow motion, I turned and headed for the racks. If they kicked me out again, no problem; five good images would be worth it. If they kicked me out.