Posts Tagged ‘Fashion week in Paris’


Note:   Ken Buckley, of Ocean Grove, wrote this for us in 2009 when Blogfinger was just starting and we had fewer readers. Ken was a buyer for a major New York department store.  Ken passed away this year.


Paris flower

Paris flower market. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©


By Kennedy Buckley

Thirty years ago I was sent by a large department store to cover the showings in Paris. We were met at the airport by a rep from our Paris office and whisked to a chic small hotel on the left bank … the Lenox on Rue de l’Université … for a quick change of clothes and the start of our appointments at various showrooms around town. No time for lunch, “you’ll get a sandwich as you’re shown the new styles.” After some more stops, the suggestion of dinner was “poo-poohed” as two designer runway shows were to be squeezed in. Eventually back to the hotel for a late snack and a collapse onto a not-very-comfy single bed, but not before scheduling an early wake-up call for the next day’s big trip to the Prêt-a-Porter showings at the huge exhibition hall on the outskirts of town. Day one down!

(What about the wonderful restaurants and fabulous sights I heard so much of in preparation of this trip? All I’d seen was the Eiffel Tower out the taxi window as we sped from the airport.)

The Prêt-a-Porter venue was so distant, we took the Metro … buying a FIRST CLASS pass to have a chance at a seat. There were many hundreds of vendors there, spread out over an area twice the size of NYC’s Javitz Center. It required walking what seemed like miles of aisles to cover just SOME of the companies the rep had arranged in advance for us to see. Any others that seemed interesting while rushing about would require returning another day … and try to remember where their booth was located? Good Luck! Of course, we were again fortunate (?) to have secured tickets to a big-name designer’s fashion show that evening, so it’s rush back to get a decent seat, which allows no time for dinner … or even a (much needed) drink.

So much for day two. By now I realize I have already seen so much that if I don’t start writing some tentative orders from the day’s notes before I go to sleep, I’ll be completely lost. You may be wondering who the “we” are that I refer to. Well! Buyers have a merchandise manager who approves the orders, and the merchandise managers have a Senior Vice President. Plus, there is a Fashion Director overlooking the direction the store is trying to achieve fashion-wise. N.B: The only essential person in all this is the “buyer,” because if nothing gets bought, there is no need (excuse?) for anybody else to go to Paris. Get the “we” now? The Sr. V.P.and the Fashion Director are only around for the big-name designer runway shows and parties anyway.

I have to confess that many of the days and nights are distant blurs in my memory, so I will distill some showroom happenings into one typical example. After sleeping through the morning wake-up call … after a late night out … quick shower and dress hurriedly … I taxi to first appointment. No need to ask … it is obvious … coffee for me!!!

The models come past our table strutting their wares … turning if asked … and stopping if the style number is wanted. Although it is before 10 a.m., they are gorgeous, even though they have probably been partying late (it IS Paris). I become aware of a particularly striking one wearing a sheer black camisole with embroidered black polka dots, a couple of which, I notice, seem to be moving … (jiggling?) … I realize I am being paid to sit here, served croissant and coffee, to watch beautiful fashions parading past … what a wonderful world!

Enough about the work. Ten days (and nights) in Paris means some great food (try and forget our stupid dress buyer trying to order scrambled eggs, well done, at a famous sidewalk cafe) …  great entertainment … I don’t remember the singer’s name, but the standing room only crowd sang “I Will Survive.” The baths are an experience … going up La Tour Eiffel …

“Fashion” is what you observe: what real people walking around have put together … and small boutiques’ displays … Montmartre … Notre Dame … champagne at Crazy Horse! Ten days; all expenses paid (almost all)! Who needs to go to sleep? You can do that on the flight home.

Will I ever get back here? We will have to wait to see if the merchandise I order sells.

MUSIC:  Old Blue Eyes recalls what it was like checking out a beautiful woman:

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