Born in Moldova, model and influencer Doina Ciobanu was a world away from fashion growing up. She studied political science and history at the Free International University of Moldova, and moved to Bucharest at 19, then London, her current home. Over the last few years, everything has changed—she’s modeled for Christian Dior, Versace, La Perla, Agent Provocateur, and has traveled around the world speaking about social media and style. She is still socially and politically involved back home in Moldova. This week, Ciobanu took on Haute Couture Spring 2018, running from show to show and slipping in and out of Dior and Zuhair Murad looks. Here, she lets CR in on her experience firsthand.
Monday, Day One
The week kicks off for me at the Schiaparelli Maison. The show is early, but what a beautiful way to start any day or week! In this “age of inclusiveness,” the diversity of models to grace Schiaparelli’s catwalk includes the young and the mature. Schiaparelli knows their audience.
The days goes past pretty fast as I run from one show to the next, one showroom to another and, as it goes, change from one outfit into the next. Human anatomy inspired silhouettes at the Iris Vane Harpen show, color overload was the theme at Nina Ricci’s Pre-Fall 2018 presentation, and then time for Dior.
Dior is always a big deal, in my position you need half a day to get ready/get changed, wait in traffic (forget about getting to Musee Rodin in the car, you’ll have to get out a few hundred meters away and walk get there in time for all the street pictures), then entrance “photo wall,” then the Musee Rodin corridor photo wall, then a courtyard street style, then some more photos inside.
I take a breath and look up and around me, taking a few moments to process the decorations of Dior’s installation. The masks were probably one of the most unique things I’ve seen at a show in the past few years; extremely detailed and dimensional—the craftsmanship and construction made them look like they were 3D printed. Gowns blending in with the floor, monochromatic tuxedos and artisanal capes were being snapped away by everyone very enthusiastically.
Another change of outfit for Ralph and Russo, which is a brand dear to my heart. As the models sauntered past, a mental list starts to form of the pieces I’d like to borrow for the Cannes and Venice film festivals. I head home; heels off, undressed, and preparing a meal, I get an email about Giambattista Valli’s show; I’ve been invited at the very last minute. Leaving the food untouched, I quickly put on clothes and run to Petit Palais, where a fashionable crowd of press and close friends of Giambattista have already gathered. 350 meters—that’s how much fabric the last year’s gowns required to be crafted. Valli finished my show schedule for the day as well as overloaded my Instagram feed. Such beauty can’t be kept to yourself, it calls to be shared.
The night wasn’t much quieter. It started at the newly renovated Hotel Du Crillion, where Swarovski held a dinner to celebrate the launch of the new Atelier eyewear in collaboration with Marcolin. With fashion darlings such as Olivia Palermo and Poppy Delevigne, it was definitely the right place to kick off the first evening of Haute Couture. From there I headed to the Dior Ball, but not before I picked up my boyfriend. The idea of an Haute Couture Ball with my other half sounded better than anything.
Musee Rodin was completely revived. Just like last year, it had dozens of masked staff standing around, welcoming us to the event, as well as motorized giant chess hordes. Modern day surrealism takes quite a bit of technological creativity! Those in attendance were the crème de la crème. From Carine to Bella Hadid, it really was the event of the week. Guests took to the masquerade with painted faces, bird-feather hats, bondage masks, and Viennese court suits; it was the most spectacular view.
Tuesday, Day 2
Coffee is always the first thing in the morning for me. Even before I flick on the lights, I turn on my coffee machine. Off to fittings, first Karla Otto, then Zuhair Murad, the Dauphin presentation in Place Vendôme, Alexis Mabille show, a visit to the Boucheron installation, then the Ellery show.
After, one of my favourite shows—Alexandre Vauthier. Always so vibrant and sexy, Vauthier had the likes of Bella walk. Again, the pieces have a tendency to leave little to the imagination; Bella handles it with so much grace. I then spent the evening at one of my favorite places in Paris, Ferdi, which is a tiny Spanish inspired restaurant off Place Vendôme and serves the best burgers in town. Check Instagram stories during fashion week and you’ll see this is a haunt for the likes of the Hadids and the Jenners.
Wednesday, Day 3
The trend of merging the four annual women’s collections into just two main ones is growing, and Acne is the next one to follow it. The beloved Scandi brand chose to show its womenswear during couture fashion week in order to win more time for the team to create and produce. The fashion crowd welcomed the decision with applauses and the new layered yet romantic collection with much love.
Jean Paul Gaultier is always about the spectacle, even the front row filled with people from some of the most renowned drag queens to Ellen Von Unwerth. Surrealism was really dominating this couture fashion week, but the winner card that JPG had that the others didn’t was… Coca Rocha in a matching outfit with her most adorable two-year-old daughter.
Viktor and Rolf is next on my schedule and I’m freaking out, as I promised to wear a beautifully crazy V&R jacket (look 37 from Haute Couture Winter 2017 to be more precise) to the show but have no time to get changed. I text the PR and apologize, she says it’s not a problem, and I’m finally relieved. The show is stunningly true to the brand, but what I love the most is that every single piece is made out of one material, technical duchesse satin. As the designers explain, it was a way to be more environmentally conscious. Zuhair Murad is my last show of the day, and I’m already wearing a long pink satin kimono from the brand. Zuhair is one of the loveliest designers I’ve ever met, and his collections never disappoint; they are the red carpet dream and no one crafts crystals onto the female form quite as beautifully as he does.
My day finishes with a private dinner with De Beers at another one of the hottest fashion week spots, Caviar Kaspia. If you want to try the Western interpretation of traditional, Russian caviar (believe me, coming from Eastern Europe, this is not at all the standard meal), this is definitely a must.
Thursday, Day 4
Early morning call, again, and I need to start packing and getting ready for my first show, Ronald Van Der Kemp. I’m wearing an amazing green outfit with slouchy pants and a cropped leather jacket, it’s a bit too cool for the weather, but then again, it’s fashion week. I put on gloves in the hope that they warm me up enough and head off. The venue is small, which makes it feel more like a cabaret in a way. The models are stopping every few meters and posing very elegantly and turning around, very old style. Intergalactic-inspired makeup, hair, paint on the hands, it all comes in together even though the looks are all very different.
It’s time for coffee. I stop at a Starbucks on the way to my next show, Soy Latte as always, it somehow confuses the lady behind the counter. “I really should practice my French,” I think to myself. “Dancing Queen” starts playing in my head, and I have a sudden urge to film my Ronald Van Der Kemp outfit while dancing to that song somewhere in the middle of Paris. Done. You see, fashion week is quite a bizarre anomaly for those outside of the industry, but we find every excuse to have fun.
A.F. Vandervost is the absolute last on my Couture schedule. With only 10 minutes to spare before I have to leave to take in the collection I’m packing my hand luggage for a trip with Louis Vuitton to the South of France. We’re waiting for the show to start, and suddenly spy girls with big flags, unaccompanied by music, at the end of the runway. “Oh no, a protest.” It was actually just a tribute to 20 years of A.F. Vandervost—very nice. The collection referenced the brand’s archives created throughout the years, lots of harnesses, and iconic boots. The show finale sees the models come down the runway carrying the same flags. Now it’s officially over, and I need to head back to grab my passport and carry on bag and get to the airport.
Bisous for now!
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