I am in Paris getting ready for “Le Grand Prix du Siecle Laurent Perrier 2014”, award honouring Karl Lagerfeld this year for his work in the Fashion world. On my way to try out gowns from Martin Grant showroom, I rapidly scroll down my tweeter feed and see Hilary Alexander posting: “On my way to Paris for Karl Lagerfeld...” So, I guess wont be the only Londoner at that dinner… A little nervous? Noooo.
Dress, make-up, hair, clutch, nails, jewellery, perfume, I am ready. It is 7:45pm and the reception starts at 8:00pm. I am going to wait. The French Etiquette calls for the “quart d’heure de politesse” which literally means the quarter hour of politeness. It says that you should not arrive on time but rather 15 minutes late when invited to a dinner. Therefore, I will comply with those rules that my mother carefully taught me.
I arrive rue Cambon, the iconic street where Gabrielle Chanel lived and created what is today the most prestigious and coveted fashion house. Black and shiny Mercedes arrive at Pavillon des Capucines, dropping elegant gowns and tuxedos.
Inside, white drapes cover the room where the reception will take place. In line for the introduction to the Laurent Perrier family, the butler whispers “what is your name” I politely answer “Camille Baron.” As he announces my presence, the hosts greet me: Stéphanie and Alexandra de Nonancourt, Maurice de Kervénoaël and Claudie Haigneré. “Your dress is exquisite!” tells me Alexandra.
The waiter kindly shows me the way to the stairs that lead to the cocktail. As I arrive to the buzzing and bubbling mezzanine, I notice Hilary Alexander. As she ends her conversation with blogger The Liberty London Girl, I introduce myself. As we speak she soon discovers that I graduated from Condé Nast College, “oh, I have been there to interview Matthew Williamson and I am going back in a few weeks.”
Already dizzy from the excitement and nervousness, I make my way through the sophisticated and high profile crowd. A white glove invites me to take a glass of freshly popped champagne. While I enjoy my fizzy drink, a very elegant lady compliments me about my hair, make-up and dress. “you need to meet Karl!” she casually says as I tell her about my career plans.
Not sure if her compliments or the two (or maybe three) glasses of champagne were the reasons that boosted my confidence but I rush down the stairs and find myself in front of Karl Lagerfeld. Busy talking with the hosts, bombarded by the flashes of cameras, I stood there, smiling, pretending I was part of their conversation nodding to things I could not even hear properly. Not so Etiquette, but at this point… who cares?
Ok, 1, 2 3, I am doing it. “Hi, Mr Lagerfeld, Camille Baron, I am a big fan of your work, congratulations for your award.” As these words flow out of my mouth, I shake his iconic fingerless leather glove. He smiles and doesn’t have the time to properly answer as the hosts take him to his table as the guests start coming down.
Having a hard time realising what just happened, I decide that this is not enough. I need a picture. In a you-have-nothing-to-lose mood, I spot his table. He is talking to Bernadette Chirac, former French first lady.
As soon as he is not paying attention to another high-profile guest, I jump on this chance to say: “Excuse me Mr Lagerfeld!” his white powdery white ponytail turns. “I promised myself that I would not leave tonight without a picture with you.” Without even mentioning a selfie, he answers with his charming german accent, “yes of course, but I am not sure about selfies, let’s ask someone to take a picture of us.” I ask putting my puppy eyes on “Can I try?” to which he said “OK”. Side by side, I lift my Iphone up, trying to control my shacking hand. I see myself in the screen and Karl Lagerfeld is right next to me. Yes, normal. So normal. Click, click et voilà. “Can I see?” he asks me. He is bending over my shoulder and as I show him the pictures of him and me he says: “ that is really good.”