A SHOW TO REMEMBER
It’s a rainy day in Paris—the kind that soaks you like a ride on Niagara Falls’ Maid of the Mist. I’m trying to find the backstage entrance for the L’Oréal Paris fashion week runway show, and police officers have pointed me in the direction of the Arc de Triomphe, where I find a large white tent set up on the fashionable Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The scene is buzzing as model Irina Shayk struts across the street with a group of photographers trailing behind her. This is one of Paris’s busiest shopping streets, yet today it has been closed off for a star-studded L’Oréal Paris runway show featuring the brand’s top faces, including Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda. Six hundred seated guests are here, as well as thousands more that will surround the area to see the celebrities and models walk a 60-metre runway—that’s 10 metres longer than an Olympic-size swimming pool. When I sit down backstage with veteran model Liya Kebede, I expect to hear that this is just another day on the job, but Kebede compares her pre-show jitters to the first show she walked in 1999. “When you do your first show, you’re super-nervous and you don’t know what to expect,” she says. “It’s a big deal, and today is kind of the same thing.” Backstage consensus is that walking the Champs-Élysées with such a massive audience is a career highlight. As I chat with the models, makeup artist Val Garland preps 70 beauty looks, all displayed on detailed face charts along the walls of the tent for her many assistants. The tent is a hive of activity until the very last minute, when guests take their seats. The models brave the elements as they march down the misty runway without missing a step. It’s another day on the job, but shutting down the Champs-Élysées makes it one to remember.