Final exams are almost around the corner, but there’s only one test I actually care about acing – the Vogue Paris Fashion Festival. In case you forgot to study, here’s a quick recap:
Each year for one weekend only, Vogue Paris mingles with the public to discuss fashion’s most pressing topics. From starting a luxury brand, to growing online community, to finding your artistic voice – attendees get to learn industry secrets between snapping Instagram stories of Vogue editors.
Well, at least for the Parisian attendees, it was an opportunity to learn. But for me, it was test time.
As a girl who’s spent the last two months learning all she can about French culture, it was now the day to see if I had what it took to perfectly blend into a crowd of Parisian millennials.
And at first, I thought I had it in the bag. It was rainy in Paris that weekend, which never bodes well for fashion folk who prefer suede, over-the-knee boots rather than rubber, Hunter wellies.
But ironically, this helped me spot the other festival attendees as we made our way through the rain and toward the Hôtel Potocki. In the torrential downpour, we stood out not only for our unreasonable footwear choices, but also the fact we had to leap over the same puddles along the way.
Sure, my own leather booties weren’t being practical, but they were keeping my cover as a French wannabe.
I arrived at the Potocki, let the attendant offer me his umbrella and then stepped inside the hotel’s foyer. Gaping at its cascading staircase, mirrored walls and voluptuous chandeliers, I immediately (and ashamedly) thought – wow, this would be a nice Instagram.
Thankfully, my French comrades thought the same. A few were already perched in the classic “I’m heading up the stairs and just happened to look back at this camera lens” pose.
I walked up the stairs sans photo and found my seat. Since I was a bit early, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. She didn’t ask me about Donald Trump, so I assume she can’t tell I’m American.
After a few minutes, the panel finally began and we all directed our attention to the doorway. There, one by one, the revered Vogue Paris editors filed into the room.
Sitting in that audience, each of us gaping at the magazine royalty in front of us, I thought I actually did it. I was one of the pack. I discussed, I dressed and I acted like any other French fashion lover in the room.
But once the panel discussion really got going, I wondered if I actually had just taken the wrong final exam. Because frankly, the ideas discussed during that panel weren’t exactly ideas I wanted to share.
Topics of feminism, social justice, body positivity and model diversity are common discussions within American Vogue. And generally with the American Vogue editors, these ideas are progressive and inclusive.
While Vogue Paris did touch on these same ideas during the panel, sadly their discussion wasn’t as progressive as their American sibling publication.
When I entered the festival, all I wanted was to blend in, but as I left, I was glad to stand just a bit apart. Just as it was important for me to learn about this country and its culture, it’s also important to value the American qualities I’ve been learning about my life.
And in the meantime, I’ll be renewing my subscription to American Vogue – no posing as anyone else required.