A Cinderella Couture Moment with Michelle Alves

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From beginning to end, a fashion show is all about the little details, but Modelinia especially loves the backstage, behind the scenes experiences straight from the models. We asked Michelle Alves to blog about her moments during couture, and despite a poorly timed stomach virus, Michelle shined on the runway and provided us with an intimate look at all the decadent Dior details.

It’s 7am, and the alarm clock sounded very far away. But while my mind knew it was time to go since I had to be somewhere at 8 am, my body wasn’t responding as fast. It was still tired. My stomach was better; I wasn’t feeling nauseous anymore, just a little off. But a whole day without food had a bigger impact on me than what I expected.  My face was pale, I had deep circles under my eyes, and my skin didn’t have the same shine. Not even to mention how shameful I was feeling to have had fainted at the Dior fitting the night before.

It was just past midnight when I was standing in front of John Galliano, in one of the most beautiful dresses I will ever wear: a 30 pound strapless sunny blue tulle dress with pink deconstructed flowers applied on one side only, looking like a 3D Monet painting. I started to hear the bells ringing, my vision started to fade, and I could feel fast hands undoing my corset as somebody put a piece of candy inside my mouth and somebody else offered me a shoe box just in case I’d need it. I’m trying to help with the laces, I can no longer recognize the faces around me as my mind keeps repeating to my body, “I won’t ruin this dress, I won’t ruin the dress.” I manage to come out of it and the lights are off but I’m still hearing the voices, now yelling for a chair as my body is lifeless and I’m in someone’s arms. Then, seconds after, it’s all over! As if it had never happened. I was feeling good. Everybody was really concerned and they were very lovely. Stephen Jones quickly told me that the pink cellophane on my face would be cut shorter so I could breathe better, John had already approved, so it was all good, and I was sent home to rest.

It’s 8am and I’m walking through the side gate of the Musee Rodin gardens. Its already 88 degrees F, but the air is still fresh under the trees. I could already hear the sound of the hairdryers working frantically from the show tent. I walked in and after a small chat, Orlando Pita sent me to get my hair done. On the way saw Pat McGrath, and let me open some parenthesis here: (Has anybody seen her lately? She looks gorgeous, hourglass body! No, didn’t ask what was she doing…sorry!) My hair took an hour to be done and it is like a sculpture. They put a polystyrene ball on the top of my head and tied the hair around it. Unbelievable what they can do nowadays. My make up was much longer: 3 hours! Because they needed to get it perfect! A blue square above the eyes, some green and fake eyelashes for the final touch. And of course the well designed eyebrows. Fake nails colored purple and I’m done! 4 hours total!

I’m the last to get dressed; everybody wants to make sure I’ll be OK. I have the sugar and a Coke in hand just in case! I’m so scared to feel sick again that I decided to stick to bland foods for the day, so there is no way something will go wrong. I had 5 people helping me getting dressed, corset is tightened, they gave me the cellophane headpiece and music is starting to roll.

I hear my name to get in line. I’m number 27, out of only 30 of us, one dress per girl, and after being away for 3 years I don’t know any of the girls anymore. The market has changed, and has changed fast! Girls are almost disposable, one season then they are out! No wonder why there is so much interest on the supermodels again! Faces are not recognizable. When you start to get used to them, they are gone!

The line keeps moving, and you can feel the energy bursting backstage. A group of tailors seem worried, one of them gets a pair of scissors and is now cutting part of the bottom of my dress, then they realize that when I walk I’m still stepping in on it! They start to pin up the under skirt to make it shorter, there is no more time, it’s my turn, I look at John and he says, “You look beautiful Michelle,” meaning, Give it all you have now! I’m out, it’s beautiful, I’m concentrating, one step after the other, I’m kicking the dress that is getting under my foot, but has so many layers that they keep coming back, faster then I can walk, the last minute pins started to scratch my leg…I’m getting closer to top of the runway. My heart is beating and it feels so good to be here one more time. I came off the runaway, they lift up my skirt and my leg was bleeding. I did give all that I could give. John goes out and the Dior dream was over.

Guests are rushing backstage, we are still in our gowns as we must shoot with Patrick Demarchelier for the Dior book out in the garden, and in the middle of the crowd I see his face, my guy! My husband to be! It was so out of context, instantly I felt as I was home. I was so happy that he made it to the show. The last time he came to see me at a show was 8 years ago when we first met! He kissed me and of course said that I was the most beautiful. ~ Michelle Alves

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