The Side of Paris Fashion Week No One Talks About

The Side of Paris Fashion Week No One Talks About

Strolling through the streets of Paris with my Starbucks in hand, I felt extremely American. In my defense, I knew it was only my first coffee stop of the day. I made my way to the metro station, grabbed a seat and waited for my stop.

Upon walking back up to ground level, the grey Parisian sky was waiting for me. And so was the Champs-Élysées. I strolled down the street, gawking at all the luxurious shops and ran right into Fenty’s pop up shop in the Galaries Lafayette.

A quick walk through the park led me to the Grand Palais, where I saw my first fashion show ever. The photographers were lined up on the sidewalks to capture all the ultra glamorous people wearing giant sunglasses, half of whom I did not recognize at all. They all had one thing in common though: these gorgeous people strolled perfectly through the bustle of the photographers directly into the Elie Saab exposition. The music started. The show began.

After being dazzled by all the beauty I witnessed, it was time to make an essential stop at the Café de Flore. We walked in and sat down.

More Instagram influencers. I didn’t think it was possible to see so many chic people.

My friends and I sat and discussed whether the fashion industry is truly superficial or not. After all, these Instagrammers aren’t really… doing anything. They’re just here. Taking selfies and tons of pictures (in outfits that are, admittedly, super cute).

Are they following trends or are they creating them?

Who actually is creating the trends?

Do the designers and runways shows have control of the fashion world in 2019?

We dipped into a small cobblestone alley because we were tired of walking through crowds of tourists and photographers. At that moment, a Parisian woman walked by me–sunglasses on and purse in hand.

An everyday woman, yet still great style. I could totally recreate that outfit. I turn toward my friends, “All these French women own a pair of jeans that fit them just right and a great blazer. That’s really all you need.”

Maybe these are the people who create what’s new.

The everyday people. The ordinary people. I don’t know about you, but most of my outfit inspiration comes from people I see on the streets.

Sure, huge fashion houses and designers still have an obvious sway in the trends. But I think it’s becoming more common to draw inspiration from one another simply as human beings.

And I love that.


What were your favorite PFW looks? Comment below and I’ll share all my faves!
(Featured photo from Unsplash.)

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Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!

What Fashion Month Looks like in the Age of Instagram

What Fashion Month Looks like in the Age of Instagram

You’ve seen it everywhere. Bella Hadid or Kaia Gerber snapping selfies in their runways looks. Vogue’s fancy 5 minute makeup tutorials with models like Winnie Harlow or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. And we can’t forget Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty performance that went viral.

It’s pretty obvious that Fashion Week is in flux. It’s changing and morphing to match the current social media-crazed culture. Just searching the hashtag #FashionWeek on Instagram brings up 20.6 million posts.

So, what does that mean for the industry as a whole? One recent development is the inclusion of many freelance writers and bloggers who are now getting the chance to attend these high profile events–an opportunity not many had before the Internet.

This year, I had the privilege of chatting with two journalists/media communication professionals who attended New York Fashion Week.

Amanda Randone

Amanda Randone is a journalist, New Yorker and fellow French speaker. She was also formerly the editorial manager at Barney’s New York and a regular contributor to Refinery29, Cosmopolitan.com and Coveteur.

Briefly tell me how you got started going to fashion weeks. What was your inspiration? How long have you been attending?

“Believe it or not, I started attending shows at New York Fashion Week seven years ago when I was in college! Which I thought was simply the coolest thing in the world (it was). I was representing the NYU school newspaper, the Washington Square News, where we managed to land invites to higher-profile shows like Badgley Mischka, Lela Rose, and Rebecca Minkoff. I even covered a party hosted by the legendary Patricia Fields (also an NYU alumna!).

This exposure to the fashion world was thrilling, and I loved channelling the creative energy I witnessed on the runway into my own writing. The whole experience helped me envision what a future in fashion journalism would look like, and I knew it was a path I wanted to pursue professionally.”

What were your favorite shows this year?

“I was utterly inspired by the Burnett New York Spring 2020 show this season. A very talented friend of mine is a cofounder of the label, which is still in its industry infancy. Having a personal connection to the talent behind the collection–especially when the brand is so authentically committed to empowering women—and watching their vision materialize in all its beaded, vibrant glory gave new meaning to the whole experience. Plus, the venue was the sun-drenched Elizabeth Street Garden, a dreamy garden oasis tucked away in Nolita. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon.”

What trends did you see the most of? What do you think will actually hit the streets this fall and winter?

“I was definitely seeing geometric sleeves (a good example is the strong circularity around the arms of a few Maria Cornejo looks that were unforgettable… examples here and here).

I also can’t get my mind off of two-toned pants and dresses à la Cynthia Rowley and Dima Ayad (Dima is actually a Dubai-based designer who’s showing in Paris, but here’s a sneak peek of her take on the trend). And there were a few billowing shirt/dresses styled over pants, see Brandon Maxwell and Rosie Assoulin for reference!”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue fashion journalism?

“Write your heart out! And read trade journals like WWD to better understand the business behind the fashion. It’s an ever-evolving industry, and there are a lot of brands doing innovative things that’ll inspire you to think differently about how retailers hope to further engage with their customers (aka, your readers).

I also think it’s important to understand the major challenges facing media companies today. Get your feet wet with all things digital so you can dive into your first position well versed in SEO, e-commerce partnerships, and data analytics.”

Where can we find updates about you/your media company/your experiences as a journalist?

“I update the selected clips section of my website regularly, which is also where you’ll find the reporting I do outside of fashion (I cover women’s issues and write a lot about Islam, examples here and here!). My thoughts are occasionally on Twitter, and my looks/family/friends are often on Instagram.”

Hannah D’Avanzo

Hannah D’Avanzo is a journalist and founder of HD Access Media. She also happens to be someone I met (and became friends with) in college.

Briefly tell me how you got started going to fashion weeks. What was your inspiration? How long have you been attending?

“I was promised an interview with Jason [Derulo] during Fall Fashion Week of 2017, which was the start of my attendance for fashion weeks. Since then, I have attended Milan Fashion Week, Rome Fashion Week, New York Winter Fashion Week, and this past New York Fall Fashion. People have always inspired me. Everyone has a story to tell, and I became addicted to learning and hearing from others. Creators in particular inspire me because there is always a story behind their clothes and designs. I love a good story.”

What were your favorite shows this year?

“My favorite show this year was Cynthia Rowley.  Cynthia held her show outside which was a nice change from being indoors at shows all day. She had the most fun, summery outdoor theme. Some models even carried surf boards and wore bright colored clothing. I also liked that Cynthia featured one model that was much older and shorter than everyone else. This left me wondering, ‘What the story was behind the older model and who was she?’

I also enjoyed Bibhu Mohapatra’s show because he featured beautiful gowns that displayed his vibrant Indian culture. I’m also obsessed with sequins and details, and each of his gowns were beautifully embellished. I was so thrilled to get an interview with him!”

What trends did you see the most of? What do you think will actually hit the streets this fall and winter?

“Though all the shows were very different, I saw a lot of pieces featuring shades of mustard, orange and dark turquoise on clothing. I noticed lots of models on the runway wearing leather throughout the show. This did not only include black leather but all different muted colors on leather. I would not be surprised to see lots of leather trends in the near future.”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue fashion journalism?

“Stay up to date with trends. Dress the part you want to play ahead of time because the industry can be very superficial. I’d also say be friendly and get acquainted with publicists. Ultimately, they control everything and know everyone. I’ve had many publicists help me beyond measures. Just this fashion week I was able to watch a show backstage with the designer himself because of a publicist I talked to right when entering the show. I’ve also had many publicists tell me no and brush me off. Though this has happened on several occasions, I’d always recommend reaching out to publicists. This could potentially help further you in the industry.”

Where can we find updates about you/your media company/your experiences as a journalist?

“On my Instagram @hannahdavanzo or website www.hdaccessmedia.com.”


What have been your favorite Fashion Month looks so far? Leave a comment below! Also, follow this blog for more updates about upcoming fashion weeks.


P.S. If you’re looking for more information on London Fashion Week, I’d suggest starting with this article by Man Repeller.

For the styles at Milan Fashion Week, check out Refinery 29’s recap. Oh, and this video of J. Lo sporting the iconic dress that literally launched Google Images.

Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.

Why I Hate My Blog.

Why I Hate My Blog.

The internet has a funny way of making us feel unique.

It’s given us a platform to discuss anything and everything (maybe a little too much of everything). Yes, it’s connected people, but I think it’s also isolated us more than ever.

Our tunnel vision kicks in quickly when browsing the internet. I mean, how could it not when everything online is catered particularly to us? Our accounts are all about us. Our Twitters are the random musings of our mind and our Instagrams contain more selfies than we’d like to admit we take.

I’ve spent far too much time in this trap. But the more I use my blog as a writing outlet, the more I realize how not special I am. And it makes me laugh. Of course I use my past experiences in an attempt to comfort others/share truth/share my story/etc. That’s not the point.

The point is that I’m not special and neither are you. It might be cool and trendy to write article after article about times people have wronged you, but at the end of the day there are always people going through the same exact thing as you. So don’t pretend like you’re the only one going through it (I’m mainly talking to myself here).

It’s easy to get caught up in that mindset when we have a keyboard and a domain name. So in the spirit of self-improvement and all that jazz, I’m trying to start writing about things that interest me and less about things I’ve done or accomplished. What are some topics that interest you? Maybe our common interests can spark a good blog post.

Until next time,

KV

P.S. I hope you all know that this post is really more of a self-reflection than an attempt to drag anyone for their online profile choices. This shoe fits me all too well, but I’m trying to change the size.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

No one likes to hurt. Our mind flees any sort of pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional. But I’m here to make a case for heartbreak.


Hello, meet my friend Heartbreak.

He’s kind of quiet. But also sporadic and unexpected.

His presence is pretty versatile. One day you’re looking at old photos or videos and he snuggles up next to you to enjoy the trip down memory lane. The next day he’s as harsh and biting as a winter wind. He doesn’t care what he does or says and he definitely overstays his welcome. But I love him anyway.

The point remains: heartbreak can be one of the most beautiful gifts life offers us. And I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. It is absolutely necessary for any sort of personal growth, realization, or clarity. It’s only after the heart shatters that you begin to truly view your situation for what it was. I found a great quote recently.

[With heartbreak] the only thing you’re mourning right now was the idea you had about what your future could be.

That’s it. That’s what it is. You might also be hurt by the words, the actions, the whatever. But the heartbreak is rooted in the realization that what could have been will never be. It’s a wildly uncontrollable concoction of disappointment, confusion, and hurt.

But ultimately, it’s the best thing we could have had happen to us. It frees us from illusions and fantasies.

Music Moment: Ingrid Michaelson

Music Moment: Ingrid Michaelson

I’m pretty sure the last time I listened to Ingrid Michaelson was in 2011. Seriously.

I was a freshman in high school when I heard her singing in that cliché indie voice, singing about getting rich and buying a home in the South of France. (My little wannabe flower girl self totally fangirled over her songs.)

I probably wouldn’t be amiss to say we all thought she had just faded out of the music scene. But then out of the blue, she came back. Released on June 28, 2019, Stranger Songs is Michaelson’s latest attempt to be an indie artist.

Album cover of Stranger Songs, Michaelson’s latest album.

This album was quite literally based on the Netflix original TV series Stranger Things. There are 11 tracks on the album (go figure). From “Freak Show” to “Take Me Home,” each song deals with a scene or portion of the show. Billboard interviewed Michaelson and had her break down the meaning of each song.

Listening to the album, I felt extremely unimpressed. It was monotonous and honestly really cheesy. Maybe if I was still 14, I would like it. Who knows. Regardless, something about the album really rubs me the wrong way.

I’m all for using art as a means of inspiration to create new art. But this seemed a little much for me. I adore Stranger Things, but to make a song about Dustin getting bullied or Nancy breaking up with Steve? Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re making an entire album about another show/work of art, you might need some more creativity.

[Side note: I can’t be too horribly upset with this album because one of my favorite albums is the exact same concept. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by The Alan Parsons Project. It puts Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems to psychedelic rock music.]

Anyway. Michaelson’s album still bothers me.

Fave song: Missing You

Least fave song: All the rest of them

Overall rating: 2/10… Sorry, Ingrid.

My thing is this: in a world of great synth pop, I simply cannot find a reason to like this album. It’s really only something I think we’ll be hearing on a muffled radio in JC Penney, not featured on Season 4 of Stranger Things.