At Miu Miu, in Paris



Photograph by Sophie Kemp.

Inside the Palais d’Iéna, it was dark-colored carpets and dark-colored walls. Chocolaty and rust-colored and warm. There was music that was playing and it was ambient, it was a shudder of synthesizers, it sounded like a womb. A loop of a video made by the Belgian American artist Cécile B. Evans was projected on screens set up on all sides of the room. I was not sure what to do during this time before the show started. I decided that a good thing to do while waiting for the fashion show to start was to orient myself in the space. I watched girls take selfies. I walked past the pit where photographers organized themselves, setting up their cameras. I was pacing, you might say; I was walking fast and with very little purpose.  

Photographers swarmed actresses and actors walking in to the venue wearing full Miu Miu looks—things like teeny-tiny plaid shorts and a navy blue blouse with a puritan collar, or a red two-piece with a miniskirt that is kind of like an evil badminton uniform. Miu Miu girls and theys, I observed, are chic in a way that is like, I’m a pixie, I know my angles, I’m very charming about it. I have never felt like that in my life. Speaking of knowing your angles, I kept getting in the photographers’ shots. Sorry miss, do you mind moving, you’re in the shot, they said to me. I was happy to oblige. Sydney Sweeney walked in with her handlers, glamorously wearing sunglasses inside. Raf Simons, the legendary Belgian designer and co–creative director of Prada, got caught up in the photoshoot of a famous K-pop star, and a friend I was talking with swore she heard him say, Jesus Christ. I wrote a note in my phone that said: have u ever watched a really famous person being interviewed b4? its rlly weird lol. They enter a room and they are swarmed by a whole swath of people. How do they come up for air? I was having trouble with that at that moment, coming up for air. 

I also felt, among other things, that I had a new appreciation for the music of Drake, the chanteuse. How does the song “Club Paradise” go again? No wonder why I feel awkward at this Fashion Week shit! No wonder why I keep fucking up the double-cheek kiss! Ha ha ha.

Photograph by Sophie Kemp.

I made it back to my seat. The Cécile B. Evans video installation morphed on the screens. The actress Guslagie Malanda, who starred in the movie Saint Omer, was in the video reading a kind of prose poem, and there were animations of flood water running through some bleachers and pixelated images of wind, a quasi psychedelic montage. The models entered the runway, one by one. They wore oversize leather gardening gloves and bubble skirts and nurse uniforms and perfect black dresses with cutouts on the sides and little leather sneakers and little pointy-toed Mary Janes. Wool overcoats and Gigi Hadid in (faux) furs. Int’l Klein blue stockings paired with a blazer that looked like it was maybe burnt orange suede—kind of the same color as a Goldfish snack cracker. 

My favorite part was the  middle section of the show—when the dresses became these sort of severe diner waitress / nurse outfits and the models were wearing fuck-me pearls, styled with little sunglasses that looked like the ones I remember my father wearing while manning the grill in the summer at my childhood home, rotating hot dogs with a big metal poker. Kind of a classic fashion-girl move—to deconstruct something classique by way of adding something masc to the mix. I was doing that too, honestly. I was wearing a beautiful, backless floor-length dress from a hip New York designer and also a disgusting Dickies jacket. I am not going to lie. I wore it because I wanted someone to notice me. Instead, I felt like a praying mantis with googly eyes. 

There was the parade of models at the end, then the procession of spectators pouring out of the building, then the procession of taxis driving out of the circle, and on my very own two feet I boldly became the boulevardier en route to the métro, passing colonnades and mansard roofs and perfectly manicured trees and tourists just standing there in the middle of the street, without a purpose (basically me). I felt really glam on the train back, wearing my fashion-person outfit. I was listening to a YouTube rip of some twelve-inch dance track you can buy on Discogs for like two hundred dollars. And after that, a very old nine-minute Kanye demo that sounds like it was recorded by Oscar the Grouch. Then I put on the new record by Jessy Lanza where she goes like “I don’t think you’re very funny, sorry!” I felt like one million dollars. I also felt really smelly, because I had forgotten to put on deodorant. A lot of people on the train were looking at me. Probably because I was wearing a floor-length backless dress covered in sparkles. I went back to my apartment for a few hours and ate soup standing up and texted my friends stuff like: lol Im about to go to this afterparty alone I dont know anyone there. 

I went to the afterparty and I hardly knew anyone there. The afterparty was at a place called Gigi, on the Avenue Montaigne. I couldn’t figure if there was any relation to Gigi Hadid, who was hosting the party. I’m pretty sure it was just a coincidence. Bradley Cooper wasn’t there, in case you were wondering! When I went in I didn’t know what to do with myself, what to do with my hands. I saw Ethel Cain at the bar and she told one of her friends that she was a little drunk. Nice, babe, I thought. I ran into someone I knew from New York. I was introduced to a photographer from the New York Times, who ended up being my main party friend for the evening. We did dancing and he told me I needed to get over myself, but, like, in a nice way that I needed to hear. As in: You look great, calm down. I talked to a Qatari American conceptual artist with a tooth gem who pointed out two girls with lip fillers taking a selfie with a Miu Miu purse. I gracefully accepted the gift of a glass of champagne. Being a little provincial I call all sparkling wine champagne, but this was the real thing. 

Everyone smoked cigs on the roof and the music was sugary and four-on-the-floor and the tooth-gemmed artist told me that what she liked about me was that I didn’t shave my underarms and that I was wearing a sleeveless dress in the winter in Paris. She told me about the book Moby-Dick and how the whale had a little lower layer, a sensitive part, and that most people had that too and the ones that didn’t you couldn’t really trust. Gigi Hadid posed for photos. 50 percent of the people in the room were dressed in Miu Miu and 50 percent were wearing their own stuff. An Italian lady dressed in all red lounged decadently against the side of the bar, sipping her champagne, like some kind of midcentury cabaret star. I heard someone say Simz! And I turned around and it was the rapper Little Simz. This felt like the most high-stakes partying I had ever done in my whole life. It was one of those situations where I could feel my own blood move inside of my body. It was one of those situations where I felt like a small speck of space dust, gliding through the universe. I checked on several occasions to make sure my boob hadn’t fallen out of my dress. It had not. I talked to Lorde. I can’t tell you what she said because I promised her I wouldn’t quote her in the article but I can say that I asked her if she’d ever read Infinite Jest. It got late, after 1 A.M., and I suddenly became very tired. I had been behaving intensely. I had been intellectualizing my surroundings for hours. 

Here is how my evening ended. I called a car. I said goodbye. I saw the Eiffel Tower out the window. I saw the Seine. I saw all the quais and ponts you know about from the movies. From all the paintings that you walk past in the Met, maybe while you are hand in hand with a lover. I watched the glamorous parts turn into the less glamorous parts—cheap motels and big-box stores and brutalist municipal buildings. I watched the car turn on to the Périphérique—the ring road around Paris—and then exit at the Porte de Bagnolet. I got back to my apartment in the twentieth that I was living in for the next two months. I took great care to walk quietly, because of this thing where my downstairs neighbors accused me of being “a loud walker,” “it is very annoying!” Then I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning and it was like I was a Toulouse-Lautrec subject, stretching out to wipe a little drool off my face. I thought about New York, and how I missed it. I responded to like thirty text messages from my friends. They all wanted to know how my night went. I was happy to oblige. 


Sophie Frances Kemp is a writer in Brooklyn, originally from Schenectady, New York. She has published nonfiction in GQ, Vogue, and The Nation, and fiction in The Baffler and Forever. She has a forthcoming novel called Paradise Logic.