“I LIVE for costume parties!” said Gemma Ward when we asked her about her Halloween plans. In fact, the model’s such a fan of disguises that she’s not only making them mandatory at the Halloween party that she’s co-hosting with V magazine at the Rose Bar in the Gramercy Park Hotel tomorrow night, but she’s decided to celebrate her 20th birthday with yet another costume-themed bash later in the week. While the sky’s the limit for the V mag event—”I’m going as something bloody,” Christopher Bollen, the magazine’s editor, told us, “and you should, too”—Ward’s birthday blowout will have a more specific theme: Jungle.
What do Jean Paul Gaultier, high-stepping jigs, and an auditorium full of kids all have in common? Coco Rocha. On Friday afternoon, fashion’s spunkiest cover girl took to the stage of Mirabal Sisters Campus Community School in New York City’s Washington Heights to show off the Irish step-dancing moves that the style set first caught sight of at Gaultier’s Paris show last season. Conceived by Rocha and co-produced by the Children’s Aid Society, the performance reunited the model with her old troupe, Eire Born, whose members flew in from Vancouver for the show. "I started dancing when I was eight," Rocha explained, "and I’ve been missing it, you know? And missing my friends. So I was looking for a way to bring the group back together, and when I found out about the Children’s Aid Society and the work they’re doing to bring dance to kids, it all sort of came together." According to Emanuel Bueno, a lucky sixth grader invited onstage for a surprise finale with the troupe, Rocha’s initiative paid off. Asked whether he thought he’d be testing out his new step-dance moves any time soon, Bueno nodded vigorously. "Maybe next Recess.…”
In the 1950′s, the gracefully angular model Dovima was the avant-garde antidote to the era’s sex-kitten-saturated mass culture. She could laugh at herself, too—in the fashion spoof “Funny Face,” she played a mannequin who loved comic books and mispronounced an artist’s name in her squeaky voice, causing him to suffer a creative and existential crisis. With her Cubist features and lanky frame, Erin O’Connor resurrects the sharp, sculpted beauty that Dovima exemplified. But in contrast to her aesthetic predecessor, O’Connor is becoming known to the general public both as the embodiment of high fashion’s idiosyncratic ideals of beauty and as an articulate presence in the field. Tonight, London’s fashion fans will have the opportunity to hear what O’Connor has to say when she speaks at the Victoria and Albert Museum about her intimate experiences with couture. O’Connor’s talk, her first ever, is part of an events series that the V&A is hosting to coincide with its “The Golden Age of Couture” exhibition, a spectacular survey of fashion in the age of Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy—and Dovima, of course. (A December screening of “Funny Face” is also on the agenda.)
For the industry’s top models, fashion season is a nonstop, caffeine-fueled round of shows, fittings, appointments, and hurried backstage meals, broken up by the occasional party. How does it all unfold? And how many cups of coffee can one model drink? We sent Derek Blasberg to tag along with Jessica Stam on a typical day in Paris to find out.
When Stam was told her car was picking her up at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning for the Lagerfeld Gallery presentation, she nixed any plans of going out the night before. “Although, look, it’s still technically nighttime,” she jokes as we pull up to the Louvre before sunrise, her ever-present Starbucks cup in hand.
After the Lagerfeld Gallery show, Stam throws her typical fashion week look back on—a Sophomore T-shirt, “because they’re the most comfortable ones I’ve found”; Dior Homme jeans; and Christian Louboutin pumps—and squeezes in an interview with Agyness Deyn.
As we walk from Lagerfeld Gallery through the tourist crowds and gift shops of the Carrousel du Louvre to Valentino, Stam deadpans, “Should we get a lollipop in the shape of the Eiffel Tower?” Once at Valentino, she heads straight for makeup artist extraordinaire Pat McGrath. “Pat has this vibrant personality, quick sense of humor, and endless creativity.”
“Without this guy, I wouldn’t make it to any of the shows,” Stam says of her driver, Jean Michel. “He’s like a big brother now.” As Jean Michel delivers her from the Dries Van Noten show to the Loewe show, he reminds her of her schedule, takes a Starbucks order (“He doesn’t have to do that,” Stam gushes, “but he does ’cause he likes me. All the other girls are very jealous”), and tells her where they’ll meet after the show.
There must be something in the water at Stella McCartney’s studio: At the designer’s fitting, no less than three pregnant women adjust Stam’s looks, including the designer herself (she’s seven months along with number three, “but still beaming, even through the stress,” Stam says). Here Stam clowns around with casting director James Scully on her way out. “James and I have a relationship based on compassion and a mutual love of coffee,” she confides. “During the New York shows he gave me a Starbucks gift card—it made my day.”
Finally, Stam gets a chance to eat and catch up with friends, including Mary-Kate Olsen, Christian Dior’s Alexis Roche, and Proenza Schouler’s Shirley Cook. They consider the Hôtel Costes for dinner, but decide to avoid the lobby scene and opt for an Italian restaurant in the Marais, where every pub is tuned to the European rugby matches. “I feel awkward wearing couture when everyone else here is wearing rugby jerseys and jeans,” Stam teases. Believe it or not, in some parts of Paris, more attention is being paid to sports than fashion week.
The last appointment on Stam’s schedule is a party at Parisian hot spot Le Baron that she’s hosting with Carmen Kass for a yet-to-open, eco-friendly club in New York. “Everyone is asking what tips I have on getting green,” Stam says on the dance floor. “I feel silly saying, ‘Buy hybrids and recycle.’ But listen, I actually recycle, and I actually drive a hybrid!” If it continues to bother her, she can always borrow Carmen’s answer: “I tell everyone to shower with a friend.”
Finally, a mere 19 hours after starting her day in sunrise shades at the Louvre, Stam climbs into her hybrid and heads back to her hotel. “It’s a wild month of my life,” she says. “But I love it. I love fashion and I love the shows.” She had better: Her call time for Stella McCartney is in seven hours.
While it may be de rigueur for fashion editors to have a child join them in the front row at a show or two, Brit supermodel Agyness Deyn decided to bring a different next of kin with her to the Paris collections: her brother Greg, an aviation engineer who’s based in the south of France. “I’m not sure who everyone is yet,” he sighed at Karl Lagerfeld yesterday. “But Agy is helping me learn.” While the brunette (right now, anyway) is enjoying the company—”Aw, I love having my big bro with me,” she said—her sibling is finding a whole new respect for his little sister’s vocational hazards. “We were at Jeremy Scott last night, got into bed, and before I knew it we had to get up for another show. And it’s like that always: Go, go, go!” Welcome to Paris.