Thursday 4 February 2016

Unguarded Moments: Backstage at Paris Men's Fashion Week AW16

Models backstage in Paris on the balcony at the Palais de Tokyo before the Issey Miyake AW16 show. Photograph and cover picture at Valentino AW16 Paris by Elli Ioannou Photomedia
Reporting from Paris, our correspondent Elli Ioannou captures the evocative backstage world of fashion shows where models & photographers are at the centre of the creative storm that ebbs and flows around the runway
Preened & dressed: ready for the runway 
DUE to the demands of social media, fashion shows are now either streamed live or released shortly afterwards. Capturing something backstage which is a truly unguarded moment is all about the models who are being prepared for the shows. From a photography approach, it has to be a documentary style rather than set up. There is a whole process based around life backstage for a model, a lot of waiting and being tended to by at least three to five people, from dressers to hair and make-up aritists and then more waiting to go on to the catwalk.  It is a life strung between infinite boredom and a high level of drama and pressure.

Waiting is a model's life: Issey Miyake AW16
Yet modelling can offer both excitement and opportunities as a profession, as the adrenalin rush kicks in once a show is underway and also at the exotic places it can take you around the world. Often the cities and the spaces where the shows are held are dream destinations. For example, models can step out on to the rear balcony of the Palais des Tokyo, for a short break  in foggy, wintry Paris between shows with the misty view of the Eiffel tower. For the professional photographer working during fashion week, there are essentially three areas for shooting.
Scrum of photographers compete for the best spot
There is the pit, as it is referred to in the industry because it can often be a real fight for the best position, even though most media have spots allocated. This is where the press photographers have to get the classic clean shot of the model looking down the lens. The second area (my favourite) is backstage and this is often one of the hardest to access but offers the most creative freedom.
Shooting backstage at Issey Miyake
Shooting backstage you need to be really mindful of not getting in the way and yet still be gutsy and assertive so you get the shots you want. A high level of professionalism is also called for and
most photographers are not allowed to stay backstage once the show begins, unless they’ve been given prior permission. Then there are the ‘street’ photographers including bloggers and paparazzi who capture the atmosphere and the street style of those attending the fashion shows.

Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.