Genuine excitement. Apprehensive self-consciousness. Venues so big you feel small. People lining up who won’t get in but stay there anyway. A bustle at the entrance. Overhearing: ‘But I’m on the list!’ Saying: ‘But I’m on the list!’ Exchanging smiles with a security guard who tells you Ah il fait bien d’avoir un petit chaleur humaine. A woman wearing a dunce’s cap on the second row, blocking the view for those on the third. That woman from the TV in mirrored aviators and turquoise hair. Once more a plethora of Asian faces in the audience, despite a shortage on the catwalk. Spotting, in the audience at Undercover, a man in a jacket that spells out ‘Fighting for Freedom’ on the back in the Latin alphabet, and also in Cyrillic: which side is he referring to – you want to ask but never do. Avoiding eye contact with those you’ve already greeted and have nothing left to say to. A complete inconsistency in terms of how people dress: some as if it is a regular day at the tax office, others as if it’s the grandest costume ball of the year; some as if it’s the height of summer, others as if it’s still winter (which it is). More applause than usual. Less applause than usual. Exactly the average amount of applause. A curious mix of expressions on people’s faces: ‘This is my umpteenth show and I just want to go home’ versus ‘Oh my gosh pinch me I can’t believe I’m finally here!’ As soon as the last clap dies down, a throng at the door: hurry hurry hurry or else you’ll miss the next show! People typing furiously on their phones. VIPs and VICs lining up to get backstage: there’s champagne to be drunk, and cheeks to be kissed. Men in make-up. Men in skirts. Men in sequins. Acting cooler than you feel. Sunglasses everywhere, though there’s no sun in sight. Sunglasses indoors, infallibly. Beautiful people, on the catwalk and off. Good bone structure. Good skin. Good hair. Purple hair, green hair, blue hair, pink hair. Influencers and first-timers lingering around after the show taking selfies. The familiar faces. Everybody looking at each other while pretending not to. Bra top and suit jacket combos. A man in a white dress shirt and nothing on his bottom half, except a prosthetic vulva: who is he? A generic-looking old white man with a Germanic accent regaling the crowd with stories about his multiple homes and pools: later you find out it’s the painter Anselm Kiefer. Michèle Lamy conducting herself like Madame de Pompadour, surrounded by adoring acolytes. A throbbing base that makes your heart quiver. Models in perspex heels so high it’s a miracle no one trips and falls. Blacked-out pupils and long trains on skirts and coats on the Rick Owens catwalk. Towering head-dresses at Comme des Garçons. Nicolas Ghesquière showing long knitted scarves at Louis Vuitton, a crowd-pleaser. Peacocking: ridiculous, beautiful, moving. No coats, even in sub zero temperatures. A lot of belly buttons on display. Crowds moving in unison, phones held aloft to catch a glimpse of a celebrity you’ve never heard of. Stern-looking men in dark suits surrounding beautiful young women with perfectly applied make-up and professional hair. Bumping into people you never see, except at fashion shows. Waving to friends across the catwalk, then losing them in the crowd. A swarm of shiny black cars with tinted windows blocking the street. Bored-looking drivers lining the sidewalk while smoking and drinking coffee from paper cups. Monogrammed handbags. Logos, though not as many as last season. Someone who looks like Madonna, but isn’t. Off-duty model style, flawless. Making as if you don’t notice the street style photographers, even when they’re right in your face. Arriving too late after having stressed like crazy, and missing the show. Arriving too early and having to wait outside in the rain without an umbrella. Not getting the ticket you really really wanted. Mind boggling sets intended to awe you into submission, which works, almost. Watching a street style photographer trying to capture an influencer crossing the street as if no one is watching. That same influencer crossing the street multiple times, back and forth back and forth, so everyone gets their shot. Avoiding becoming the figure cropped out behind said street style star. The PRs looking anxious behind clipboards and iPads. The most important members of the audience always arriving last. No visibly handicapped people, ever. A congregation of photographers at the end of the catwalk competing to take the exact same photograph. Always at least one orange knitted hat worn by a man in the audience. Tim Blanks on every front row. Bare breasts on the catwalk for no good reason. Relief that the PR clocked you meaning you’ll get a ticket to next season’s show too (hopefully). Wishing the week was over. Wishing the week would never end. Loving it hating it but loving it more.
Anja Aronowsky Cronberg is Vestoj’s Editor-in-Chief and Founder.