When I was an 18-year-old Alabama high school student, I took my first trip to New York. It was a band trip (naturally), and we had a ton of activities planned. But, as a lifelong lover of fashion, I had only one priority: to find and procure a fake Louis Vuitton bag.
The year was 2004 (woof, that ages me), and it was that time when the rainbow monogram Louis Vuitton bags were everywhere, even in Alabama. As an unemployed teenager, I of course had no money to buy the real thing—so to me, a trip to New York was my key to the fake-handbag kingdom. I think we had one free afternoon that entire trip (chaperoned, of course!), and I headed straight to Chinatown, where my young virgin eyes feasted readily upon racks and racks of counterfeit LV monograms, interlocking Chanel logos, and Fendi baguettes. About $35 later, my counterfeit fashion cherry was officially popped—I was the proud new owner of a fake Louis Vuitton Speedy, black with the rainbow logos, which looked kind of like this one. It’s possible I had never felt so gleeful.
Fast-forward 11 years, and I find myself sitting front row at Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2016 show in the fabulous city of Palm Springs, flanked on either side by Always Judging blogger Courtney Trop and international street style star Helena Bordon. From a distance, I spy Michelle Williams’s unmistakable platinum lob, and Selena Gomez isn’t too far behind her. Street style star Miroslava Duma, more understated than I’d expect her to be, smiles shyly at the crowd as she’s passing through. And, finally, Kanye West enters (sans his famous wife), shakes hands with Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghuesquière, and takes his seat.
Having worked in fashion for several years now, I’m lucky to say that I’ve been to more runway shows than I can count. But never before have I attended a show for a brand that even comes close to holding the reputation of Louis Vuitton—a name that boasts instant brand recognition, produces some of the finest-quality leather goods in the world, and epitomizes the height of luxury. And let me tell you, from a front-row perspective, there’s depth to those claims. These clothes were the most beautiful clothes I have ever seen in person.
Sitting there, watching the handcrafted leather, silk, chiffon, and denim pieces waft by me high above Palm Springs, I thought about my life. I’m an only child from Alabama, and no one in my family has ever worked in fashion or experienced any form of particularly notable material wealth. At 18 years old, I attached the dream of a more glamorous life to a fake Louis Vuitton bag, and 11 years later, that dream was real.
The rest of the afternoon, experiencing the dinner after the show and the after-party after the dinner—everything felt so surreal to me. It felt surreal, but I had to acknowledge its tangibility—the fact that I had become the person I dreamed of becoming so long ago, and beyond. As an 18-year-old browsing a Chinatown shop for the best fake Vuitton you can find, you don’t exactly dream that you’ll eventually sit front row at a real Vuitton show, but I'm really glad that 18-year-old girl continues to strive and work and reach without abandon for her goals. It’s been a wild, incredible ride—and I’m so grateful. You, beloved reader, might too find yourself living out the dreams of your 18-year-old self—whatever those dreams might be.
You just never know—you are the star of your own surreal story.
Keep scrolling to see more photos from my experience front row at Louis Vuitton!
Upon arrival, editors were given their hand-inscribed runway show invitations, which were tucked inside a wallet featuring the iconic "LV" monogram logo.
My neighbor for the show was the lovely Helena Bordon, who is just as kind and warm as she is stylish!
The show was staged at Bob Hope's former residence, tucked into the hills of Palm Springs.
Miranda Kerr in Louis Vuitton
Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton
Miroslava Duma in Louis Vuitton
Selena Gomez in Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton's Cruise 2016 show in Palm Springs
At dinner after the show, I rubbed elbows with the one and only Kanye West!
At the after-party, I was lucky enough to meet Michelle Williams, the current face of Louis Vuitton.