Everything You Need to Know About Paris Fashion Week

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Paris Fashion Week is like an excellent party you only find out about after your friends post the photos on Facebook.

Like many French cultural traditions, Paris Fashion Week is a mystery, with secrets spilled only through women’s fashion magazines, Vogue videos, and lately, Snapchat. The whole affair is clouded by questions (why is it called fashion week if it’s 13 days?), concerns (those models are so skinny), and unfulfilled desires (must…see…Kylie…Jenner…). Don’t get your Hermès scarf in a twist though. Whether you’re still wearing a Juicy tracksuit from 2006 or already have the latest Louboutin’s strapped onto your feet, French Morning has all the information on Paris Fashion Week to take take you from a ignorant at Level 1 to insider at Level 8.

Level 1: Learn the Basics

What: Paris Fashion Week (PFW), “Ready to Wear” (RTW) collections

When: September 23rd-October 5th

Where: Paris (the locations of the shows are mostly kept a secret)

Who: all the big couture designers, plus a few new ones.

Why: to celebrate fashion and present the clothing lines of Spring and Summer 2017 (SS17)

Level 2: Know the French Designers

The Elite: Yves Saint Laurent, Chloé, Dior, Isabel Marant, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Givenchy, Hermès, Agnès B., Sonia Rykiel, Lanvin

The Seasoned (But Not Universally Known): Lemaire, Guy Laroche, Céline, Maison Margiela, Leonard Paris, Barbara Bui

The Break Out Stars: Jacquemus, Olympia Le-Tan, Koché, Carven, Courrèges (as a revived brand). (Check out Vogue’s article on Jacquemus, Carven, and Corrèges here.)

Level 3: Watch the Shows

September 27th – Koché (6pm-7pm), Jacquemus (7pm-8pm), Saint Laurent (8pm-9pm)

September 28th – Courrèges (10am-11am), Maison Margiela (11am-12pm), Lanvin (12pm-1pm), Guy Laroche (4pm-5pm), Lemaire (7pm-8pm)

September 29th – Chloé (10am-11am), Carven (11am-12pm) Balmain (3pm-4pm), Barbara Bui (5pm-6pm), Isabel Marant (8pm-9pm)

September 30th – Dior (2:30pm-3:30pm),

October 2nd – Céline (1pm-2pm), Givenchy (8pm-9pm)

October 3rd – Leonard Paris (12pm-1pm), Olympia Le-Tan (3:30pm-4:30pm), Hermes (4:30pm-5:30pm), Sonia Rykiel (6pm-7pm)

October 4th – Chanel (10:30am-11:30am), Agnes B (11:30am-12:30pm)

October 5th – Louis Vuitton (10am-11am)

For a complete schedule, including more French designers and the non-French designers, click here.

Tickets are only available to the press, members of the industry, and celebrities, so your best bet if you want to get into a show is volunteering, either through posts online or contacting designers to volunteer directly.

Unfortunately for groupies, the show locations are kept hush-hush. No secret is ever really safe though, so as show dates get closer, google “(designer name) show Paris 2016” and the location will probably turn up. Alternatively, runway shows of the latest trends take place at Galleries Lafayette every Friday at 3pm on the 4th floor. Get more information here.

Stuck in the office? Held back by family commitments? Trapped in an elevator and can’t make it to Paris? Fear not. From the comfort of home (or work—we won’t tell!), watch the shows live online here.

Level 4: Discuss This Season’s Progressive Reform 

Following the successful Dwarf Fashion Show in 2014, PFW will be hosting the second Blind Fashion Show. French philanthropist Myriam Chalek founded both shows to promote diversity and reject stereotypes about disabilities in the fashion world. Their runway is lined with markers on the floor and a fishing line on the side to ensure safety, but without those two fixtures, no one would ever know the models were any different.

The Second Blind Fashion Show – October 5th, 6:30pm-8:30pm on Rue Saint-Florentin. Buy tickets here.

Level 5: Hit Up Paris’ Fashion Week Hot Spots

Concept stores are prime destinations for any designer or model—it’s one-stop convenience for shopping, interesting souvenirs, and inspiration. Check out Colette, Merci, and Le Rocketship for the celebrities, and the quirky designs.

Believe it or not, models do eat. Café de l’Industrie, and Café des Beaux Arts are a few classically Paris places frequented by the industry. Bread and Roses masters the upscale-low-key bakery/café vibe, that keeps patrons seated at outdoor tables munching on pastries all afternoon.

And everyone needs to relax at the end of the night with a drink. Ask any model or designer and they’ll tell you that  Mary Celeste is their favorite spot for a drink. Café Etienne Marcel looks modern, retro, and like it came in from outer space all at once. Recommending Castel would be foolish, seeing as it’s the hottest spot in Paris (it’s so well-known that its website is just a logo) but we won’t blame you for trying to get in.

As for where to be, visit le Marais (and do a little shopping), Le Grand Palais and Le Petit Palais (because they both make killer backdrops for street photographers hunting off-the-runway style), and Rue Saint-Honoré and Place Vendome to catch glimpses of celebrities dropping a casual 20K on Cartier diamonds.

Level 6: Dress According to the Trends

Fashion Week isn’t the only trendy week of the year, and Parisian fashion bloggers are on hot on the trail of street styles and seasonal looks to keep up with. Their runway-to-real-world outfits provide inspiration and outfit ideas to the non-glamazons of the world. Try Mode and the City, Le 21ème, Easy Fashion, Miss Pandora, My Name is Odd, and Adenorah.

Level 7: Make References to Films about Fashion in Paris

Every true follower of fashion knows the fashion films and picks a few to hate for inaccuracy, and a few to worship. Watch them and then bring them up in casual conversation. Use the word “homage” regularly.  Watch these flics about fashion and Paris to see the outfits that never went out of style.

Funny Face (1957), Dior and I (2014), Coco Before Chanel (2009), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Marie Antoinette (2006), Saint Laurent (2014), Pret a Porter (1994), Mademoiselle C (2013).

Level 8: Become a Fashion Designer

Keeping up with trends is a lot of work, and frankly a lot of money that could be put to something else (like wine). So screw the trends, set your own trends with 24 colored pencils, a glass of Chardonnay, and this Paris Street Style coloring book by Zoe de las Cases. Get your color on by ordering it here.

Featured image: Stock Photos from Mauro Del Signore /Shutterstock

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