|Four creations by Melany Rowe Designs Spring 2014, Paris|
Photo: The House of Road Photography
My world has been topsy-turvey recently so getting this story together has been an uplifting distraction. I am tremendously proud of our friend, Kimberly Hanna, who had the dream opportunity to model at this year's Paris Haute Couture Week for Melany Rowe Designs. Kim is also a fellow prairie chicken (sorry, inside joke) and she has plenty of local modelling experience with an impressive portfolio. Not only that, those longs legs gracefully carry the most exuberant, down-to-earth person with a genuine heart of gold. There's no faux buttering here- she is a fantastic gal. Since I could not accept the insanely tempting invitation to join the team in Paris this year, I asked Kim if she could put together a fashion diary for us. I'm sure there are one or two other prairie (and beyond) fashion bunnies who won't mind joining me in living vicariously through Kim just a wee bit!
Here is her diary....
Living in a small city in the prairies, I never dreamed, as a thirty year old mother of two, that I would have the honor of modelling in up and coming designer, Melany Rowe. Nor have I dreamed that I would be walking in her debut show at Paris’ Spring 2014 Haute Couture Fashion Week. The preparation for this journey came fast and furious and it left me feeling nervous and excited throughout the entire journey. I was ecstatic when I was asked to keep a journal of my experience for S.O.A.F Digest…so here are some of my favorite moments of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
|So it begins...|
Photo: Kimberly Hanna
After two sleepless days, I arrived at the Calgary Airport where I met two complete strangers with whom I would be sharing my journey- and bunking with. The final event was confirmed at the last minute. Thanks to our marvelous travel agent for pulling a great itinerary together, the three of us managed to include three additional days in London before getting to Paris. You can only imagine the trouble a model, makeup artist, and photographer can get into while traveling together! Our journey began just as interesting as the rest...whenever we asked for something, somehow fate delivered. When one of us commented that a bottle of wine would be the icing on the cake for our journey, it happened. For instance, I am a nurse and an emergency required my skills during our flight. As a thank you for my time, the airline gave me a bottle of wine! Needless to say every day on this journey something similar occurred.
We will blame jet lag, not the cider, for not seeing day light until the third day of our journey. We stayed in a quaint village close to the airport and visited London by train. We did a photo shoot in the city and we got quite the looks while on the train with me wearing full boudoir hair and makeup. Thankfully, the clothes I did not change into until we arrived at the famous London Victoria train station. We took our time walking through the streets of London, soaking in all the historic buildings and views until we arrived at our photo shoot destination, the Buckingham Palace. The entire shoot was extremely surreal. The British were shocked to see me being photographed and it did not take long until more people were taking photographs of us instead of the palace.
Photo: House of Road Photography
It was an interesting day of transit on trains from using the Eurorail to the Paris metro. This was my first taste at being in a country where English was not widely spoken. Every moment I was secretly thanking my teacher, Madame Hawryliw, for my years of French immersion. This was the perfect time to put her hard work to the test. The Paris metro left me in tears, but that frustration dissipated when we finally arrived at our destination. After exiting the metro station and a short walk later, I looked to my left and saw the breathtaking beauty of the Eiffel Tower. Lit up in all its glory, it seemed to have made the troubles we had encountered all worthwhile.
Once we settled in to our nice hotel, the Best Western Premiere Trocadero, we caught a cab to our fitting. The cab skillfully wove through the cobblestone streets to a stop at large blue door- I must note that hidden treasures can be found behind almost every door in Paris. We entered the door and found ourselves in a beautiful courtyard. We then went up an incredibly large staircase to the top floor suite, in which all the treasures one could desire where found. It was an evening of trying on extravagant gowns and getting them fitted perfectly. This was also my first meeting with the amazing Melany Rowe and her dream team which included her first hand assistant and jewelry designer, Sandy Woodhead. I also had the pleasure of meeting Dany Dombi and Maya Haraghi of the M&D Agency. I was fascinated at the calmness of this group of people, especially since they were diligently searching for a missing suitcase that had been “lost” in transit. This lost luggage just happened to contain the prized show piece as well as all of the main jewelry accessories.
The day of the main event has finally arrived! All of the models that have joined us the evening prior and although they had very little sleep, they all looked effortlessly fabulous. I started the day off with a journey by foot across the city with Jordie Hennigar, from the House of Road Photography, towards the famous Avenue de Champs-Elysees with its luxury shops, cinemas, and cafes. As you walk around the streets of Paris you cannot help but soak in the historical sights and the smells of amazing bakeries that line every street. We were in search of a new card for her camera and a place to print off my modeling cards. I am pleased to say neither of us were disappointed and we found what we needed.
That afternoon we all arrived at the famous Hotel Napoleon, which was the perfect setting for Melany Rowe’s debut show. In fact, the show was such a well-kept secret that even the hotel itself was not aware of the event. This is a common practice that keeps the paparazzi at bay, in attempts to protect the famous guests attending. I was quite thankful for my French skills, as half the models and almost the entire hair and makeup team did not speak English. Somehow we all managed to find ways to communicate. It turns out that smiling may be indeed the universal language that all Canadians seem to be equipped with.
I was lucky enough to have the most talented Murielle Hairstyle Coiffure to perform what only can be compared to a modern day hair miracle on my hair. In a matter of minutes, she whipped my hair into a miraculous piece of art that echoed the Marie Antoinette era. Next I was given what I can only describe as a makeup facial by the very talented Karissa Makowecki, from Edmonton’s own Karissa Brynn Makeup.
The part that viewers miss out on about most fashion shows is the sweet sights and sounds of the organized chaos backstage. Women of different ethnicity, speaking no language in common, came together, helping one another adjust, and perform finishing touches on the creations we were privileged enough to wear.
The scene was set. A beautiful ensemble of slow, sensual music played Melody Gardot’s “Baby I’m A Fool” while a collection of beautiful women in the most extravagant gowns one could imagine floated through the room. They all glistened in the sea of flashes that captured the beauty of each beautiful ensemble. Melany Rowe, Canadian designer and full time mother of four, dazzled the audience with her glamorous collection at her premiere showing at Haute Couture Fashion Week. The majority of the gowns were sheer masterpieces with strategic lace and intricate bead placement, and were adorned with phenomenal beaded accessories designed by Sandy Woodhead. The only way I could describe being able to wear one of these masterpieces is nothing short of getting to live out every little girl’s fantasy of being a glamorous woman.
|Behind the scenes and on the runway, Melany Rowe Designs Spring 2014, Hotel Napoleon, Paris|
Photos (Clockwise from left): The House of Road Photography, Marc Augustin-Viguier, Oliver Guyot
The show itself was short and sweet sweet, followed by a very intimate champagne social. The guests had the rare opportunity to mingle with models that donned the beautiful gowns so that everyone could see the intricate designs up close. Countless influential fashion people from around the world, too numerous to name them all, were present. I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people I hope to have the pleasure of meeting again.
One particular guest that stood out for me was the fabulous Tanya Drouginska, who has aged finer than wine. She is a very sought after actress and top model in Europe and she has helped redefine the world of modelling by showing the world that beauty is not restricted to age. Her work is always thought-provoking and inspiring, and I was honoured to have been in her presence.
The evening was nothing short of spectacular and it finished off with a champagne toast in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate the fulfillment of the first of many dreams for everyone involved, including the amazing designer herself.
After enjoying a delightful breakfast in bed of amazing pastries from a local bakery just down the street from our hotel, we received an invitation to meet the famous Ann Li, of Annsnaps.com for lunch at the highly sought after Kong Restaurant. This amazing restaurant has been highly featured in the media, including “Sex and the City”. The food was just as spectacular as the panoramic views and the entire experience from start to finish was worth every euro! If you have the option of splurging just once on your journey, I would highly recommend spending the money to dine at the Kong.
Our group was then joined by a rather famous photographer, Saul Aguilar of Saaggo’s Photography and his friend Alistair Wheeler, who is presently transitioning from architectural photography to portraiture photography. They offered to be our personal tour guide of Paris, where we eventually ended up at the Notre Dame Cathedral. I cannot begin to describe the intricate designs in the architecture of this church that was built in 1160. It was an unforgettable experience, and I was so thankful that we happened to have two very talented photographers to capture our excursion there.
|The token sight-seeing shot and lunch at Kong|
Photos: Kimberly Hanna
Being a model, you figure out how to make the cobble stone streets appear as though they were designed for stilettos… and that the wet, dreary weather was no obstacle for wearing a sheer, extravagant gown that provided no shelter from the elements. Our day of shooting Melany’s gowns may have cost one motorist his back tail light, for I’m afraid he was in awe of Melany’s creations more than he cared for his vehicle.
The streets of Paris were charming and provided a beautiful background for these gowns. One of my favorite locations that we used was a beautiful carousel that’s within view of the mighty Eiffel Tower. It was such an unforgettable evening. Tourists and locals stopped to take photographs of us being photographed. The images I’m certain shall be supreme and I eagerly wait to see how they will turn out..
Our group is now back to our original three… and we returned to our little town of Horley on the London outskirts that we have now come to love. We were delighted to hear that a small pub in a neighboring community had arranged for a going away party for us. This trip was nothing short of amazing and we have all been offered an opportunity to return to Paris in the very near future. So rather than saying goodbye, we assured the party-goers that this was a mere ‘Until We Meet Again’ party <3
- Kimberly Hanna