Not to mention expensive. With help from company CEO Shirley Cook, Prigent susses out that Proenza’s fall 2009 show, held at a raw space on the outskirts of New York’s Chelsea, cost $180,000. Rykiel’s, meanwhile, in honor of her house’s 40th birthday, rang in at more than a million euros, or about $1.4 million. Mounted in a tent in Paris’s Parc de Saint-Cloud, the presentation, for spring 2009, featured a staggering 80 models, 70 hairstyling assistants and a massive LED screen said to be larger than the one used by Madonna on her most recent tour. Though the world financial markets were already roiling, there was no question that the show—which included special tribute looks from Lagerfeld, Gaultier and Martin Margiela—would go on.
“People are kind of obsessed with reality shows, and this is a new take on things: actual reality,” reckons McCollough. While Prigent captured plenty of hairy moments chez Proenza, including three tricky velvet dresses that had to be resewn minutes before hitting the catwalk, he is probably kicking himself that he wasn’t with them six months earlier. “The season before, the roof collapsed in our studio,” says Hernandez, describing thousands of gallons of water pouring into their workrooms—and over a mostly white collection. “There’s a lot of crap behind the scenes that happens.”
While viewers may hope for footage of designers behaving badly, alas, with these media-savvy subjects, there are virtually no full-on temper tantrums. Instead, the overall mood of each segment is upbeat, and the few ruffled feathers that surface are quickly smoothed. Seeing a young male employee mincing down the Fendi runway in a fur stole during the staff fashion show, for example, Lagerfeld laughs and snaps a photo. In another scene, Nathalie Rykiel, Sonia’s daughter and the house president, screams at her show producer one minute only to embrace him later. As Prigent explains, “The camera has a very calming effect.” That said, he notes, “They only have 36 hours left; they don’t have time to be polite.”
Yet Prigent, famous for bloopers showing falling models in Mademoiselle Agnès episodes, edited out the sight of then 78-year-old Sonia Rykiel, in four-inch heels, taking a tumble as she prepares her show space. “Of course,” he insists, lumping Rykiel in the same category of sacrosanct Paris icons as the Eiffel Tower, “I didn’t want to show her on the floor.”
Nathalie Rykiel says she would have had no problem with Prigent including Sonia’s fall in the episode. “Loïc is unique in his way of capturing the intensity of fashion and the craziness but at the same time the deepness of it,” she says. “He gets feelings and irony.”