A Bedbug Infestation, A Late Kardashian, and More from Paris Fashion Week
Plus: Is Demna the "David Guetta of fashion"?
Paris Fashion Week ended Tuesday, putting a fork in the spring 2024 show season. I don’t know who worked harder for social media this season — influencers or French bedbugs. Ahead, a recap of the Paris shows, as you will only read about them in Back Row.
Paris Fashion Week Embarrassingly Timed to Bedbug Outbreak
At least two things are universally true of the fashion world. One, it’s not often that it converges with common household pests. And two, when it does, the media treats it as an all-out sensation.
In 2010, I blogged for The Cut about the offices of Elle closing due to bedbugs. Around this time, New York City was experiencing a bedbug surge that was the subject of a New York magazine feature story. The piece featured Upper East Side resident Margaret, who discovered that welts on her 4-year-old were actually bedbug bites. She memorably said, “I turned the headboard around and saw all the eggs. At which point I screamed.”
There was also the time in 2014 that Vogue moved offices from Times Square to One World Trade Center, only to encounter rats. The rats were so bad that Anna Wintour reportedly declared that she wouldn’t move into her new office unless her staff ensured it was rat-less. Rat droppings were reported to be “all over the floor” of the office, while “some of the shoe boxes had been chewed into.”
Fast forward to 2023, and these stories now feel as passé as Lindsay Lohan designing a leggings line. Enter: Parisian bedbugs, ready to seize the spotlight like a wide-legged jean. An infestation there has become so bad that people have been posting harrowing videos to social media of bedbugs crawling through public transit, hospitals, and movie theaters. I bet fashion people were never so grateful for those hard little benches on which designers array them to watch shows.
The bedbug surge overlapping with Paris Fashion Week has been a blessing for the media, which normally struggles to juice clicks out of fashion week stories. Behold, Google:
Deputy Mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire has said “no one is safe” and that “you can catch bed bugs anywhere and bring them home.” Fashion is fond of hype, as we know, and the current bedbug outbreak is no exception. From Dazed Digital:
Could this be a super spreader event? Will Balenciaga regret covering their showspace with wall-to-wall carpeting and curtains? Do we need to start quarantining attendees, dowsing them with chemical showers upon entry into the UK? Would it be a wise precaution to start avoiding our model, photographer and designer friends, or forcing them to wear a leper’s bell? Maybe…🤔
If the bedbugs travel home with fashion people, they are, experts agree, most likely to do so in luggage, and unlikely to hitch a ride on clothes. However, I read through a number of these articles so you don’t have to, and the consensus among experts seems to be that transporting bedbugs from Paris to your hometown is pretty unlikely as long as you didn’t keep your luggage on an infested hotel bed.
Anna Wintour Allegedly Annoyed with Kim Kardashian
How long should fashion events wait for celebrity attendees? Rihanna held up the Met Gala red carpet for ninety minutes, which forced many members of the media to continue standing on the cramped sidelines — which they could not leave once entering, to use the bathroom or for any other reason, per organizers’ rules — long after the arrivals should have ended. (The arguable upside to this, one reporter who waited there told me, was they got to witness P. Diddy leaving early because, he said, his seat was behind a pole.) Media also arrive to the venue hours in advance of the red carpet start time, so it was a long time to be waiting around for anyone, even Rihanna.
Now, Kim Kardashian has been blamed for delaying the start time at Victoria Beckham. “The Kardashians’ fashion show routine is to keep everyone waiting at least 50 minutes,” wrote the Telegraph’s Lisa Armstrong, who attended. “Anna Wintour was visibly unamused, tapping her watch repeatedly in the direction of the PRs before the show finally started once les Kardashians” — Kris Jenner attended too — “had swept in.” A “fashion source” (Beckham’s PR?) told Page Six the show was not delayed for Kim and that it only started 20 minutes late, which is a generally accepted amount of lateness in fashion.
This has turned into a story about “a chill” between Anna and Kim.