By Philippe Wojazer
Now I know where United Nations negotiators should be trained: in the fashion world!
If you want to cover a “not usual” story in the world of fashion, you have to learn what negotiation means. If you want to take pictures backstage at a fashion show, you have to be ready to send 120 emails and call the recipients to explain what you meant in your messages and hear “I am afraid this will not be possible”. But, once those people are convinced – they might change their mind the very next minute – but if they don’t, you enter the fashion and model’s world and realize, it was worth it. I didn’t know if I would be able to photograph this story untill the last minute. Once I finally got the accreditation for the Valentino show, the model had to be rushed to the dental emergency and was not guaranteed to work that day. But suddenly the clouds opened and I started seeing the sunlight of the fashion world.
My goal was to show the part of the fashion week we usually don’t see – a model’s life backstage.
I first met French top model Marine Deleeuw at the Elite agency flat where the agency gathers the models during fashion week. The young French woman, Marine Deleeuw, opened the door with a large smile, happy to welcome us (Elite press attachee and myself) into her world. I started taking pictures as soon as I entered amid beautiful early morning light. One thing I learned during the Haute Couture shows was that the models have to be at the show a minimum of 3 hours before (for the renowned houses sometimes 6 hours) so there was no time to spare.
The Valentino show was at 7:00pm and her call time was 3 pm. So at 8 we left the apartment to start the race. First to the agency to check all her train, plane, hotel, contracts for New York Fashion Week. Then, her eyes twinkled, an hour of shopping but just before, her agent told her that she had an unexpected casting for Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad so there went the shopping. We rushed to the Murad casting location. It was a welcome surprise for me, I wanted to take pictures of a casting and usually designers do not let you but when we arrived, I realized that the booker (person who hires models) was an old friend I had lost sight of for years. So I received the authorization to take pictures during the casting.