One of the biggest adjustments to post-internship life, apart from sleeping, is what to do in my newly abundant free time. The Hôtel de Ville (city hall) just across the Seine from my neighborhood periodically puts on free expositions, and because I missed out on the last one - Paris vu par Hollywood / Paris Seen Through Hollywood, I was determined to go to the current fashion exhibit.
I like fashion but I definitely wouldn't call myself fashionable; I'm more the type that reads blogs and flips through magazines rather than actually try trends myself. I do quite enjoy fashion exhibits, though. Highlights include Alexander McQueen at the Met, Balenciaga at the de Young, and Vivienne Westwood at MoMA. Maybe it's because that, as a middle class pleb, these shows are the closest I'll ever get to haute couture other than walking through Neiman Marcus. Also I'm a big fan of classic fashion photography. Richard Avedon for Harper's Bazaar and Vogue? Sublime.
I think I would be remiss in discussing life in Paris without addressing fashion. I noticed right away upon arriving that people put more effort in to their appearances, and it works - they look good! Then again, consider my standards: my hometown helped popularize flannel shirts in the '90s and, more recently, thrifting. (Sorry, can't hide that Seattle pride). And whereas I would often run errands or go to class wearing sweatpants, I never, ever, leave my Paris apartment in anything resembling athletic attire unless I'm actually going to work out. (And even then I feel mildly self-conscious).
Fashion exhibits are a fascinating exercise in people watching because they inevitably draw out the best-dressed crowds. Either that or people dress up for them. Paris Haute Couture was no exception. I overheard a couple of well-coiffed elderly women complaining that the exhibit shouldn't have been free since there were too many people, but I beg to differ. It was nothing compared to the McQueen exposition - I went on the closing day, waited two hours to get inside, paid for my ticket and still experienced an absolute wall-to-wall sea of people.
I often wonder if living in Paris has changed me in the sartorial sense. Well, I definitely layer and wear flats and scarves more often. Does that count?
Paris Haute Couture at Hôtel de Ville open through July 6, 2013. Metro Hôtel de Ville, enter at 5 Rue de Lobau. 10-7 every day except Sundays and holidays. And the best part - it's free!