It’s tacitly acknowledged that Paris Fashion Week is where one debuts her biggest fashion, her chanciest pieces; the photo-ready ensembles of extravagance make the months-long wait before launching onto the world stage with great uproar on the Tuileries. And perhaps the best-known disciple of that tenet is street style star and jewelry designer Michelle Elie.
For numerous seasons, the Haitian-born, Cologne, Germany–based Elie has dazzled showgoers and photographers with her unapologetic, unabashed, and die-hard approach to front row dressing. From gravity-defying Comme des Garçons outfits worn with total aplomb to traffic-stopping assemblages of Rodarte gowns paired with Miu Miu snakeskin boot—and cables of pearls thrown casually over it all—she effortlessly creates maximalist fashion moments that never read as costume but, rather, second-skin.
And just three days into her Paris Fashion Week voyage, she’s already enchanting the crowds and revealing how she transports her aerodynamic couture to the City of Light, combats jet lag, and what shows she’s excited about this season.
You’re based in Cologne, Germany, so you’re used to the trek to Paris Fashion Week. Do you have any advice for others to combat jet lag?
I suggest jogging and drinking a lot of water. Absolutely no alcohol! Try not to force yourself to sleep: It will only aggravate you and make it worse. And if that doesn’t work, go for a light, very late-night dinner at Café de Flore. Whenever everything else is closed in Paris, it is always a chic stop. My favorite dish is Le Club sandwich named for Sonia Rykiel, but without the bread.
What shows and events are you looking forward to attending while in town?
My very favorite shows are, of course, Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe. But I’ll also be attending Haider Ackermann, Miu Miu, Paco Rabanne, Valentino, Kenzo, Jacquemus, Esteban Cortazar, Issey Miyake, Dries Van Noten, Sacai, Junko Shimada, Stella McCartney, Nina Ricci, and Rochas.
My husband, Mike Meiré, has a major piece in the new “Co-Workers” exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne, which opens October 9. We’re very excited for this. Also, I would love to visit the flea markets—one never knows what somebody else wants to get rid of!—and the flower district.
You have an amazing closet and are always picking up great pieces throughout the year. Are there any new purchases that you’re excited to finally wear?
I now collect Comme des Garçons runway pieces, so I always wear something from Comme. Junya Watanabe is for fabulous, everyday running around, and Prada and Miu Miu for all accessories, bags, shoes, and sunglasses. I loved the Dries Van Noten full-length body dress and the colorful sunglasses from Spring 2016’s show the other day. I already ordered the face accessories from Paco Rabanne!
What is your packing strategy for Fashion Week?
The clothes from Comme des Garçons have lives of their own, so they no longer fit into suitcases. I drive my car to Paris and the problem is solved! I really enjoy the ride—it’s something I will be able to tell my grandchildren.
Everything is perfectly hung and protected in beautiful garment bags, and once I arrive in Paris, all I need to do is to hang them directly in the apartment. It’s a beautiful display. The only disadvantage is that I am not able to see in the back mirror of the car, so driving is quite slow and cautious!
Will you be wearing any pieces this Paris Fashion Week from your Prim line of jewelry and accessories?
I tend not to wear my collection because it might come across that I am promoting the brand. I only wear it to finalize a look. Sometimes a piece may not fit the mood of the outfit but is perfect for another look, which I may not wear during Fashion Week. For me, it is imperative that my outfits flow and there is a sense of harmony. Plus, I wear brands I believe in and have a passion for. It’s more than just a look for me: It is a way of life, living, and ideology.
You are such a favorite among the street style photographers and have a fearless attitude toward dressing! What’s your philosophy about getting ready for fashion shows?
First of all, the photographers are great. They have a tough job getting the right image in a split second, and then they go home at night to edit and send it off to their editors. That is real hard for weeks straight, and they still have the energy to continue to do it. Total respect!
I would say you should only wear things that make you feel great! After all, you are wearing someone else’s ideas and dreams. Also, you should always buy against the trends; they never last. Find your personality and yourself among the fashion world, and go with it without compromise.
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