One of the best seats in the house at the agnès b. catwalk show. Photo: Theadora Brack

After a case of mistaken identity, Theadora Brack plays paparazzo at Paris Fashion Week

My name is Theadora, I say, flashing both smile and postage-stamp-sized invitation on its ribbon. Never one to hide my delight, though it’s pouring rain, my heart is soaring.

Yet my knees knock as the guard inspects my invitation. I’m outside the Palais de Chaillot, lined up for the agnès b. fashion show. It’s also fiercely windy. Like the Eiffel Tower nearby, though, I may wobble but I don’t fall down – even with 40km gales blasting between the buildings.

I had prepared for this moment, hatching a plan for this blustery weekend. After a near miss with a windborne teapot at the Porte de Vanves flea market, I decided to hightail it to BHV for an extra layer of protection and a glass of wine to celebrate my survival.

My first stop at the grand magasin was its maze of beauty products. On BHV’s hustling, rose-scented ground floor, I scored a stash of space-age beauty balms created for the harshest of weather by the most famous Franco-Korean skincare marque in Europe – or so said the sales assistant. The light-reflecting pigments guaranteed a hologram-like glow, rain or shine… Buoyed by a water lily-infused boost, I charged up to the café, where I devoured a cheese plate – and the rainy-day view of the Hôtel de Ville and river beyond.

The BHV Marais is one of Paris’s top department stores. Photo: Shutterstock

Only after this retreat, while slowly surfing back down the escalators, did I spot it. The manteau of my dreams! Even without a try-on, I knew I wanted it. And with it the entire capsule collection by new designer Quynh Bui and La Redoute, a collaboration inspired by the 1849 Gold Rush in San Francisco – dubbed the “Paris of the Pacific” due to its large French population.

Channelling my own inner prospector, I chose a pumpkin-coloured cropped jacket with balloon sleeves, a wide-legged denim jumpsuit and an oversized trench coat with carroty topstitching that seemed totally weatherproof. Even the cashier was impressed by its weight. “C’est lourd!” she said.

Dressed to the nines (or like a fashion-forward Forty-Niner), I arrive at the Palais de Chaillot a few hours later feeling completely protected from the elements. After presenting my invite, I am waved in toward the agnès b. spectacle.

Flanked by fashion industry peers, the sound of our heels on the marble floor echoes through the massive corridors as we sashay in sync to the staging area. I’m grinning and already dreaming about what I’ll say to Inès de La Fressange if we’re seated together on the front row this time, when the usher scans my tiny invite and stops me as the others file past.

“Oops! You’re an hour early. We’re having the dress rehearsal now.” I’m still digging for some bon mot to hide my embarrassment, when she offers a solution.

“Since it’s stormy, why don’t you sit with the other photographers until the show begins? It’s okay now to wear your identification tag!”

Then it dawns on me. They had sent me a photographer’s badge, not the usual journalist invite. Hence its ‘hands-free’ ribbon.

Photo: Shutterstock

I shrug and decide to go with the flow, grabbing a spot among the paparazzi at the end of their bench in the staging area. From here, we can already hear music wafting from the rehearsal inside.

As we wait, my benchmates polish their lenses, swap war stories, and kiss their camera gear for luck. Before long we’re summoned in. Because I have a badge this time and not the usual assigned seat, I’m free to roam, picking up a few tricks for getting runway shots from my new Paris Fashion Week comrades. The unanticipated freedom grants me close proximity to one of the most joyful fashion shows I’ve ever seen.

With all the dancing and genuine smiles, in full view of the Eiffel Tower, I begin sobbing out loud during the finale, prompting one of the photographers to hand me a tissue. This kind gesture only makes me weep harder, but I commit the surrounding beauty to memory.

As Karl Lagerfeld once said: “What I enjoy most is something I’ve never done before”. Agreed.

From France Today magazine

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