Here goes my #True Story about, still pinching myself many months later trip, to Paris.
I simply just needed to go get some of the fresh Irish air into my lungs after being away for exactly four years – somehow that green grass has the ability to ground me – that immigrant heritage in my blood is ever so strong! But tickets via Paris were cheaper and the kids where stoked anout the idea of Disneyland, so that was a no brainer. Plus, mama is now all Laaniraani with the fashion stuff so Paris first and then off to my adopted – homeland – my chilled-out Ireland. Fate would have it that Paris Haute Couture fashion week is on the week we were going to be in Paris! Happy days, but off course, you can’t buy a ticket and it’s by invite only! So, I figure let me write to a couple of designers and say a prayer. Got a couple of sorta positive responses basically all saying they would have loved to have me, but you need to apply at least two months in advance, not the week before! Still, I was chaffed that Channel responded and welcomed me to the ready to wear show in January 2019. So why bother packing anything fancy, plus Big reminds me that those Paris hotel rooms are super tiny and there is now way we could lug many suitcases around Paris with two kids and public transport.
So off we go to Paris, with just one large suitcase and 2 pieces of hand luggage for all 4 of us for a month in Europe!! Apparently, I am not supposed to be buying anything – we will be travelling light, I’m told. Land in Paris, summer heat draining our souls, we make it to our apparthole (chuffed because it had a washing machine!) and Big is boasting that he made the best decision to ‘travel light’. I get into my well-deserved shower (after the water restrictions in Cape Town, 18-hour flight and scorching Paris summer) a happy mama when Big comes in screaming – you have been invited to 5 shows and one’s starting in the next hour! Omg, no way …. Yes, way and you’re going. I don’t have anything fancy to wear - its HAUTE COUTURE (My definition – super high fashion, Trendsetting and freaky expensive).
So, I pull out my skirt I made from fabric which cost less than a Euro and a good ole faith white collar “I am an accountant” button down blue shirt, grab my rug clutch and hit the street with wet hair. Now remember, we literally just arrived, my phone’s roaming is not working yet – Big orders an Uber using the WIFI at the hotel and packs me up promising that he and the kids will meet after the first show and then come along to the second show that evening. Paris shows are scattered all around the city which is fine if you have Wi-Fi/access to google maps and google translate if you don’t speak the lingo! Uber arrives, wonderful guy, charges my phone, offers me sweets, possibly compliments me on my outfit and points to the sign that he offers free Wi-Fi – amazing how well you can communicate without saying a word!
Right, according google maps we are getting close and my hair is nearly dry – see not so bad after all! Crap, traffic jam, well actually looks like the police have cordoned off the area – I spot loads of Haute Couture worthy fashionista around so I must be close – google maps says 500 metres away! Driver signals that I should walk or I won’t make it. How hard can it be right? Out the taxi I step and wave goodbye to that lovely driver and the much needed free WiFi. No worrie,s surely everyone knows the hotel I am heading to right? Ask a couple of people and they all looking at me clueless – no one seems to speak English and damn its bloody hot. Wasting time women, thinking cap on – find a fancy hotel – off I go into the Ritz and the doorman points me in the right directing - I run – in my heels and pinch myself this should have been filmed – definitely a Carrie Bradshaw moment – screw that it’s way better – its a Laaniraani moment. I pass one of the most imposing embodiment's of power monuments I have seen in the very heart of Paris - the Vendome, and wish I asked someone to take picture, but this will do!
Enter the oh so fancy Westin hotel and head over the Gyunel Couture presentation. I got to meet the lovely designer Gyunel Rustamova who is London-based. Had I known I would have read up on her brand but it turns out she’s a woman on a creative quest to tell the story of timeless fashion. Get the time and looks like I have half an hour to kill before Big and the kids meet. Thinking that the inevitable jet lag is impending, I grab a coffee, head over to the hotel lounge – I see loads of street style fashionista and bloggers swarming and posing, taking photos for instragram. Menus arrives and an Americano is a purse destroying Euro 9 - get it, anyhow, plus I deserve it. Waiter keeps smiling at me, start to feel pressured that I perhaps need to either leave the table or order something else – he swings by and says it looks like you need me to take an instragram picture for you. On that note he snapped up this and of course guaranteed himself a tip too😊
Geez, look at the time, where is my crew? No Wi-Fi, I will just stand outside - I am sure they will be here any minute! An hour later and no sign, next show is starting in 15mins and it’s on the other side of central Paris, maybe I could just catch a cab and head to the other show and hope send a message from the cab if they have wifi ? Right, let’s stand in the taxi queue outside the hotel, get to the front and swoosh, a girl comes out of nowhere and gets into the cab – maybe it’s an uber, maybe the hotel called for the cab - wait isn’t that Winnie Harlow, can’t be - what’s the chance? Plus she’s wearing a spaghetti strap vest and jeans – totally not Haute Couture. Note, to check out Instagram (once I have wifi) to confirm if that was in fact Winnie Harlow. Good thing for that distraction because there comes Big carrying the little one fast asleep looking all flustered. Turns out they decided to take a bus and got lost – drama! Anyhow my entourage is here and so we are off to the next show – fashion shows take months of planning and then are over in like 15mins. And they almost always start late – so we will make it and Big and the kids will hang around at a café till I’m done. We just made it, show is about to start, I look at my little girl and then ask the usher if she can come along and sit on my lap. Kind woman agrees - we enter and the show is starting, mini human and I are so excited and we dont mind having to stand at the back because all the seats seem to be taken. And then someone stands up and calls us over, she then says something in French, basically not so politely tells the lady next to her to remove her, no doubt fancy handbag, from the seat so we could have seat. The fancy bag lady is not impressed and leaves in a huff, and now me and my mini human each have out own seat. Wonderful woman whose ancestors are from Africa winks and smiles at us … we have arrived and most certainly are of more value than any damn hand bag ! And that was day one!