Tuesday 22 March 2016

The New Theatre of Fashion: Street Style in Paris at Valentino

 Photographers on the white carpet outside the Valentino AW16 ready-to-wear show in the Jardin des Tuilieries in Paris. Cover picture and photograph (above) by Elli Ioannou
What people are wearing outside fashion shows has become almost as important as what models are wearing inside on designers' runways. Our correspondent in Paris Elli Ioannou captures in words and pictures the theatrical scene outside the balletic Valentino show at the Jardin des Tuileries

 Wearing top-to-toe Valentino
STREET style photography is now an integral part of fashion weeks in Paris, London, Milan and New York, alongside magazine and newspaper reports about what is shown on designer runways. A whole industry has sprung up devoted to capturing looks outside the shows from the outrageous to the pert and pretty. Press photographers, bloggers and fashonistas all vie for shots that will be sent around the world via online publications and social media to reach a fashion hungry audience. The army of fashionistas, guests and posers that gather outside designers' shows attracts photographers from the around the world and is made even more ubiquitous thanks to digital cameras and the onslaught of the fashion blog.

Fashionable duo outside Valentino 
However, because of the Paris attacks last November, security was heightened at this March's Autumn/Winter 2016 womenswear shows and the French chamber of commerce stated that the location of venues was not to be released publicly. Yet swarms of photographers still appeared outside shows, including the beautifully balletic Valentino ready-to-wear collection. Clearly the street style photographers have become more resourceful and information spreads like wildfire among the blogger pack. On day eight of a mostly wet and grey Paris Fashion Week, the sun finally shone for the new Valentino collection created by the brilliant Italian design duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. The fashion house thoughtfully laid out a long, white winding carpet from the street to its show at Espace Éphémère Tuileries in the Jardin Des Tuileries.

Stylishly rugged up before the show
As guests exited the elegant and romantic collection, they themselves offered a visual feast for all of the press waiting outside. After the show, they provided a dash of colour and flair against the leafless trees and cumulus clouds silhouetted against the gardens. Some wore eccentric concoctions that bore no relation to fashion trends and others were encased in head-to-toe Valentino ~ mostly worn with white Adidas sneakers. Journalists, photographers and fans alike lined up along the white ‘catwalk’ outside the entrance to the show, in what felt like the Oscars of the fashion world. The guests expect to be photographed and most are obliging and happy to stop and a pose. But as a photographer, you still need to be fast , and assertive to set up a shot that is slightly different from all of the rest jostling to get a great image.

A model is photographed after the runway show 
When all of the guests are gone, the fresh-faced, young models exit after their job on the runway is over and they stop to pose for the waiting crowds. The Valentino models came out with their hair in sleek ballerina buns and pale, softly made-up faces. There is a whole subculture dedicated to photographing the models after the shows. The new paparazzi, are not mean, invasive or rude but they are avid photography and fashion enthusiasts and it offers many a chance to get a professional start in Paris, as the shows are notoriously difficult to get an official invite to. Social media and digital technology have made what used to be strictly industry-only events for top magazines, serious buyers and celebrities accessible to a much wider audience.

Kristina Bazan outside Valentino
Now fashion pictures appear in real time on Instagram, blogs and Facebook posts. No longer is it ‘street style’ where people are captured going about their business in cities but the fashionista outside the shows offers a carefully calibrated look and performance. It is an act in which both the subject and the photographer are willing participants. Artistic self expression, beauty and fantasy are all part of what makes up fashion street style that seemingly provides an endless source of fascination to the waiting photographers and fans. In Paris, if what was happening inside at the shows was exciting, outside the theatre of fashion was providing another, more egalitarian source of inspiration and entertainment.

Braving the wintry weather, a fashionista in brilliant red captures the attention of waiting photographers

 A stylishly eclectic mother and daughter walk the white carpet at Valentino in Paris

A Nehru-collared suit covered in hand-printed drawings and a dramatically fringed shawl made this this couple one of the most photographed in the Jardin des Tuileries 
An emerald green silk trench coat worn by a Valentino guest stood out against the grey Parisian day
Dressed for maximum theatrical attention, this fashionista was one of the most photographed people outside the Valentino show
An elaborately embroidered overcoat was mixed up with white Adidas trainers captured the fashion mood in Paris for Autumn/Winter 2016

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