My Life In Fashion Weeks Elizabeth Paton

My Life In Fashion Weeks: Elizabeth Paton

Starting in New York, fashion month kicks off today, and as innovative as the new digital format is, we can’t help but feel a huge sense of nostalgia for runway shows. To help plug the gap, we asked Lizzie Paton, International Style Correspondent at the New York Times, to take us down memory lane – from the best shows she’s ever seen to the most dramatic moments from the front row….

My first fashion week memory is London Fashion Week in 2010. I was a digital assistant at The Sunday Times’ Style magazine and one of my first jobs was blogging for the newly-launched website. I remember sitting soaking wet on the fourth row clutching my Mulberry Alexa bag in the tent at Somerset House, before my editor Richard Gray took me for a shandy or three with his fashion friends at the Coach & Horses in Soho.

The Louis Vuitton shows stick in my mind because they are the curtain closer to the season. Hosted in the Louvre museum in Paris, the showmanship is on another level, and there’s this sense in the air that fashion month is coming to an end (in normal times, it also spells a mad dash for the 8pm Eurostar for London-based journalists). Of the shows last year, I was charmed by J.W. Anderson’s show-in-a-box concept, which arrived on your doorstep and felt like such an imaginative way to launch a new collection. 

I’ll never forget when five of the original 1990s supermodels sashayed down the runway at Versace in 2018. The reunion was supposed to pay tribute to Gianni Versace on the 20th anniversary of his murder and his sister, Donatella, managed to keep everything about it top secret. So, when they appeared at the end of the show, the audience went wild. People were so shocked, but everyone soon jumped to their feet. Some people were even crying. As a power move, it was unforgettable.

Another stand-out memory has to be Gigi Hadid strongarming a gate crasher off the runway at a Chanel show. She even managed to eclipse the efforts of the hapless security guards.




In New York, I look forward to Marc Jacobs the most. You never know what you’ll be met with when the lights go up. In London, I love Simone Rocha for her eclectic romanticism. In Milan, it's probably Gucci or Prada – both serve up fashion with a capital F. In Paris? It changes – I tend to look forward to a new designer debut at a house, so this season, I’m anticipating designer Gabriela Hearst starting her tenure at Chloe. 

The 2018 Dior cruise show at Chantilly stables in France is seared into my memory. For hours beforehand the sky was black; there was this spectacular thunderstorm threatening to break over the Dior Rodeo-inspired outdoor venue. Then, just as the show started with these incredible female daredevil horseback riders from Mexico, the heavens opened and torrents of water thundered down around the models. It was amazing.

I really enjoyed the after party following Chanel’s Metiers D’Art show in Hamburg, which was held on the docks with a drunken sailor choir, fish supper, tattoo parlour, flowing champagne and dancing on big wooden trestle tables. A close second might be watching Harry Styles and Stevie Nicks duet in Rome after a Gucci show.


I don’t mean to sound jaded, but I don’t notice celebrities much anymore. I sat next to Kris Jenner once at a Balmain show. I’m not quite sure how it happened but she was delightful. I also went to chat to Nicki Minaj for a quick sound bite in Paris a few years ago and only noticed once we started talking that she had an entire boob out. It was pretty farcical.. 

My dream FROW would be filled with people who are happy to be there. Like Celine Dion – she often weeps with joy when she sees Valentino clothes. It’s hilarious, but also quite endearing to watch.

My fashion week crew is made up of my New York Times co-pilots Vanessa Friedman and Jessica Testa. I’m also good friends with the FT’s Fashion Editor Lauren Indvik and Grazia fashion features director Laura Jordan, both of whom are London-based, so I always try to see them. From New York, editor of US InStyle Laura Brown is the biggest cheerleader you’ve ever met. She is kind to everyone, which makes me love her all the more. And I’m a big fan of sitting next to Tyler McCall, the Editor-In-Chief of Fashionista.



There’s usually very little time to relax after the shows. It’s been a while because of the pandemic and normally it's a race uptown to New York Times HQ to file copy. Unwinding isn’t really a thing when you are a reporter. When I still lived there, the best I could do was a drink at The Bowery, as it was right by my apartment. 

The brand I have an eye on this season is the Anglo-American duo Chopova Lowena who are based in London and were LVMH Prize finalists last year – Harry Styles wore them for his infamous Vogue cover last year. I love those skirts…

I always wear a forest green military coat from Turkish brand Dice Kayek at the winter shows. To Saudi Fashion Week in Riyadh, I wore a gorgeous hand-painted high-necked, floor-length gown by Alice Archer. A fashion week wardrobe has to be stylishly practical with a dash of day-to-night flexibility. I’d love to say I plan mine weeks ahead, but it’s normally a mad dash 24 hours before to get everything back from the dry cleaners.

All of the fashion weeks have their own charm. I actually like Milan a lot – it tends to be sunny, the fashion crowd is very welcoming, and the food is fabulous. Paris is ten days of non-stop work and it rains constantly, but ultimately, it’s the beating heart of the industry and the apex of creative and commercial power. 

Going digital was the only option for the fashion industry during the third wave of the pandemic. It isn’t ideal, and a lot of designers aren’t showing, particularly in New York and London, but the shows must go on. I can’t imagine the fashion weeks of the past re-emerging for some time. Budgets have changed and priorities have shifted. I definitely don’t think fashion weeks are dead – that theory is completely overblown – but the world is going to be a very different place when we are on the other side of this. 

Follow @ElizabethCPaton on Instagram.

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily