PARIS — L’Oréal Paris ramped up its messaging Sunday, staging a runway display on the square overlooking the Eiffel Tower at Trocadéro — known as Parvis des Droits de l’Homme, or Human Rights Plaza.
The brand added “and Women’s” to the square’s name in French, which translates literally to “Rights of Man Plaza,” in line with the event’s theme, women’s empowerment, and to showcase the L’Oréal Stand Up Against Street Harassment cause.
“We thought it was important to do a [runway show] which is militant,” said Délphine Viguier-Hovasse, L’Oréal Paris’ global brand president, backstage.
The event, in the 50th anniversary year of the L’Oréal Paris tag line “Because you’re worth it,” was open to all and broadcast on the brand’s social channels in 30 countries.
“Being accessible is also very important,” said the executive.
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Before its start, fans lined up to catch a glimpse of the brand ambassadors, including actors Helen Mirren, Amber Heard, Aja Naomi King and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; singer-songwriters Yseult and Camila Cabello, and model Soo Joo Park.
They walked the runway through a crowd of dancers clad in white, with T-shirts sporting slogans like “Feminist and Feminine.”
The weather got the upbeat message; after torrential rain all morning, the skies cleared for the open-air show.
Had the rain continued, it wouldn’t have fazed Mirren. “I’m English, I can do this,” said the actress, who’s soon to start filming a biopic of the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
Her greater preoccupation was the sky-high heels she was set to wear.
“I’ll be clomping down like a giant,” she said. “We’ll see in the rehearsal if I can handle those shoes. I love them, because it’s lovely to suddenly be a few inches taller, especially when you’re surrounded by all these gazelles … and you’re like a little desert rat down there.”
On the runway Mirren even managed a few moves, keeping rhythm with the dancers to the public’s delight. The Stand Up cause is close to her heart.
“When I got to London I was about 17 or 18. I would say twice a week, some guy would expose himself to me, whether it was on the Tube, walking down the street, then I talked to other women and girls, and they said ‘me too,’” she explained. “When I got to be 25, it stopped happening. It was nothing to do with attractiveness, all to do with power, intimidation, victimization.”
Heard lauded L’Oréal Paris for engaging the public with the program to challenge something that affects women and girls around the globe.
“I never thought in a million years I would desire or ever feel excited to walk in a fashion show,” said Heard, admitting she suffers from stage fright. “But I feel incredibly honored to be able to do that with L’Oréal Paris, because it is a brand that embodies to its very core the essence of female empowerment. It is the brand of femininity and feminism; it is the perfect expression of the two, and they do so through initiatives like Stand Up.”
Heard said she feels honored to be part of such a diverse group of spokespeople and support Stand Up in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed.
“It’s pretty iconic, so I say goodbye to stage fright — at least for a moment — and just pray I don’t trip,” she said.
The actress was to wear Elie Saab. “I really love that brand,” she said.
Her personal style has shifted.
“I recently became a mother, so my fashion has changed a slight bit to accommodate,” said Heard, explaining she leans toward “looks that I feel powerful in, that I feel good in, that are beautiful — but that are effortless. I’m going with brands that offer something chic, but that are wearable for a mom on the go on little sleep, with only one hand free to get dressed.”
Heard is currently filming “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” then will shoot two films.
Another new mom, King, in Paris with her four-month-old son Kian, also spoke about her experience with harassment.
“As someone who has been harassed from a very young age, it’s always been really terrifying. I think that’s what’s powerful about what L’Oréal wants to do today, what its mantra is: that we deserve to be out in public, to move freely, to speak freely, to be our most vulnerable or powerful selves without anyone hindering that,” she said.
King has been juggling breastfeeding with work commitments. “You’re in these public spaces and you start thinking about your baby, and all of a sudden you want to breastfeed, it sneaks up on you,” she confided. “We can truly do it all. That is how incredible and powerful we are as human beings, and we deserve to be supported and celebrated.”
On the runway, she wore a “powerful” pantsuit by Azzaro, but in real life right now, her priority is “about simplicity and how quickly I can open my shirt to feed my child,” she laughed.
In November, King starts work on her next movie project, a thriller by Eugene Ashe, with whom she worked on the 2020 feature “Sylvie’s Love.”
French singer-songwriter Yseult, who joined the L’Oréal Paris team earlier this year, closed the show in an outfit by Casey Cadwallader for Mugler. She took the mic to invite all of the ambassadors present to say in unison, “I am worth it.”
Yseult told WWD: “It’s important for me to join the struggle with all these women, because we need to be able to walk in the street without being afraid, and to dress how we want, and to express ourselves with our bodies in the way we want.”
Yseult, who champions body positivity, said: “My relationship with fashion is quite complex, because I needed time to get to know my body.”
She continued: “I love fashion, I love beautiful pieces, and I like to play with silhouettes, and jewelry — I love jewelry.”
Yseult is currently in the midst of a major tour. “It’s Monday to Sunday at the moment,” she said.
Numerous rising designers’ fashion was included in the show, including Rokh, Uniforme, Xuly Bët and Coperni, plus inclusive label Ester Manas. Other brands taking the stage were Azzaro, Balmain, Koché, Olivier Theyskens and Giambattista Valli.
Val Garland, global makeup director at L’Oréal Paris, worked with 46 talents backstage.
“It was about bringing the very best of themselves to the défilé,” said Garland. “I’m telling my artists that I want them to treat each talent like they’re going on the red carpet. So whatever gives them the most empowerment, the most confidence. It’s all about the beauty of every woman.”
Stéphane Lancien, L’Oréal Paris’ global hair artist, adopted the same tack: “This time we keep the personality [and style] of the woman.”
For Luma Grothe, he created a ’50s ponytail.
“Aishwarya [Rai Bachchan] loves very glamorous hair, so we do glamorous hair. Some women love to play, some women feel better with simple things,” he said.
Garland wanted the event to be a celebration of individuality and joy. “I want to do uplifting makeup that makes people feel beautiful,” she said.
Since its launch in March 2020, Stand Up has trained 400,000 people, and Viguier-Hovasse was counting on the show to heighten awareness. As the display’s final act, a massive banner was unfurled on the catwalk touting the Stand Up cause.
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