Contrary to the famous saying that all roads lead to Rome, when it comes to fashion, all roads lead to Paris. By the end of January, fashion intelligentsia gathered in French capital for the occasion of Paris Couture Week. As the breathtaking gowns caught the attention of the worldwide audience, we found subtle political messages and appeals for ocean conservation between the lavish layers of taffeta silk, chiffon, and brocade. Glitter threads intertwined in designer pieces and, paired with ostrich feathers, dried flowers and Swarovski crystals, became a major trump card for the upcoming season of Spring Summer 2019. Although most of the cameras were focused on the runways, fashion photographer Alexander Kozhin closely followed the events behind the scenes and documented some of the most interesting moments in the backstage.

For many years, in collaboration with the most renowned fashion designer, this talented photographer captures equally fascinating and stressful moments. Directly from Paris, he brings us exclusive photographs that epitomize the sheer madness, excitement, and euphoria that reigns behind the scenes of the biggest fashion circus. This time, refinement and finesse were put to the fore. Unburdened by dictates of trend, extraordinary elegance was presented as the embodiment of true charm. While for some high-fashion designers this implied the color palette of subtle, dull shades, others chose a shifting palette and played with different, innovative fabrics. Stating how he fantasizes about perfect harmony of women and nature, Zuhair Murad noted that he found inspiration for his new collection "in the underworld, the beauty of the ocean and the shades of deep blue.  You will notice a lot of volume in the dresses, silhouettes that were achieved by a specific layering technique that ultimately evokes the movement of water. This collection is a perfect underwater serenade to me“, the designer stated. In the creations of Georges Hobeika, there is a spirit of Versailles. French renaissance gardens came to life in a delicate color palette. "I strive for women in my creations to always feel swaying, free and beautiful," stated Hobeika. Just a few moments before the show began, Hobeika adjusted the last details on each of the outfits. He emphasized that the does not mind the pressure in the final moments. "On the contrary, I enjoy every moment. In fact, I feel best when I'm behind the scenes. I let my creations communicate their own language on the runway."

One thing that was vividly discussed both onstage and behind the scenes is the sizzling need for diversity in the fashion industry. This season, the leader of this movement was Pierpaolo Piccoli, creative director of Valentino who, with his choice of models, proved a firm commitment to combat discrimination based on race, color or nationality. Recreating the famous 1948 photo by James Charles, he displayed an entirely new, fresher approach to high fashion. Amira Pinheiro, Maria Borges, and Cindy Bruna were just some of the dark-skinned models that have come to the fore this season. "The image of the fashion industry must change. The situation is good, but it can and should be better, "Borges said. "Just being here today, having the opportunity and honor to wear the creations of some of today's greatest fashion designers, proves that anything is possible," she added.

Alexander Kozhin swims skillfully in the creative chaos found behind the scenes. He revealed to us that it is not always easy to capture the emotion, and that the biggest challenge in his job is finding the right moment at the right time. "Imagine a room where absolutely everyone wants everything right away, including you, and the time is of the essence. Of course, there are some little quarrels, especially with makeup artists and hairdressers, but I'm used to this madness. To me, Paris Fashion Week has become opium, and I can't live without that madness. Over time, I have learned how not to get in a way, and record the most interesting moments in my silence”, Kozhin said. He pointed out that it is difficult for him to choose a favorite designer to work with, and that the experiences are always different. "Zuhair Murad was the first one to give me the opportunity to work with him. I will never forget this moment, of course. However, I equally love working with Hobeika, Chakra, Ward, Yanina ... In fact, when you work with such big names, you feel like a member of one big, traveling family. Sometimes we quarrel, often we make mistakes, but we always love each other“, Kozhin concluded.

The collections presented during Paris Couture Week are a true anthem to women's beauty, with an ideal measure of glamour. They radiate unforeseen playfulness of cut and silhouette. Whether it be precisely tailored evening suits, asymmetrical dresses or lavish gowns, all of the creations displayed exude confidence and incredible elegance.

(Story was originally published in Gracija magazine, January 2020.)