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Behind the Scenes at Paris Fashion Week

Elie Saab Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012

As Paris Fashion Week approaches, I can’t help but think about the opportunity I had last winter to work backstage at Elie Saab’s Spring/Summer 2012 Haute Couture fashion show at the Grand Palais in Paris. The fact that I got to handle those thousand dollar dresses with intricate beadwork, lavish textiles, and stunning silhouettes was a dream come true.

On the morning of the show, we arrived at the venue bright and early to unload bags and bags of dresses, belts, and shoes. As we waited patiently for the models to finish their hair and makeup, we were given a rundown of how quickly everything needed to happen. Some outfit changes would have to be done in under a minute so the models could resume their spots on the runway in time. This meant that once the show began, the pressure was on.

While these shows seem so flawless and luxurious to the public, what goes on behind the scenes is a completely different story. The staging area is flooded with cosmetic touch-ups, fast-paced garment changes, and last-minute alterations, all in the midst of hundreds of reporters and photographers conducting interviews and snapping photos. It is not until the models step onto the runway, that the world suddenly appears so glamorous and peaceful. And yet, it is this brief moment of perfection that the designers live for.

This year, the haute couture shows in Paris will take place from January 21st -24th, and I cannot wait.

While I never previously kept up with fashion week publicity, it is truly a great way to get inspiration for projects, and to be aware of what trends to look out for in the future. Whether you care to reference these designs for mood boards, or to hang up as posters in your sewing room, these elaborate looks are sure to spark your creativity.

Are you likely to follow the fashion week publicity this year? Who’s your favorite designer? What is it about their design aesthetic that you find intriguing? Please post your thoughts in the comment box below.


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  1. user-1110796 | | #1

    Awww, could've guessed all that! Surely there are some more insightful or surprising observations that could have resulted from such an experience.

  2. user-10982 | | #2

    I would agree with user-1110796. Can you give us any insite as to the fabrics used? It's hard to tell if the finish included devoire(sic?), pleated chiffon? or something else? embroidery? applique techniques? over dyeing techniques? I sooo love Elie Saab and his dress silhouettes are beautiful to look at. Another topic is what do the dresses look like from behind? You rarely get a good look at that. What closures were used?

  3. User avater
    dfinkle | | #3

    To answer some of your questions, most of the dresses I worked with were made out of mesh material (as you can see in many of the detailed images on his website such as this one: http://www.eliesaab.com/#/en/haute-couture/fw-2012-2013/23/2). As far as the appliqué and beading techniques go, I really didn’t get to see any of the construction process. However, the night before the show, a few of us offered to help sew additional embellishments onto the dresses, and all we were given were cut-out floral shapes, a needle and thread. This leads me to believe that at least some, if not all, of the embellishing is done by hand (which is incredible considering how long it took to sew on just a few flowers). Finally, the dresses were secured with invisible zippers, hooks and eyes—nothing out of the ordinary.

  4. sewfrustratedsam | | #4

    Wow, I would not want to sew all of that by hand. Nice pictures! : )
    All of Saab's gowns are gorgeous, and he is a true couturier. Def. one of my favorites... but lately i'm liking Zuhair Murad.

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