Verdon Fashion Week
It wasn’t spitting. It wasn’t drizzling. It wasn’t even raining. The sky was simply emptying the entire contents of its black clouds onto what had – until the day before – been a gorgeous triathlon venue on the shores of Lac Sainte Croix.
Rain or shine, the show was happening!
Headtorches shone weak beams through the pitch black downpour, trying to make out bike racks in the sodden field which passed for transition. Flip flops squelched through the mud; water dripped off raised hoods; goosebumps pimpled on exposed skin, voices swore, and somehow smiles beamed through it all.
(this is (obviously) not me. Thank you whoever you were for reflecting the morning spirit!)
The bike course should have looked like this.
Instead it was reduced to two short loops around the village to avoid anyone taking a flyer over a cliff into the magnificent Gorges du Verdon, which would have been a rather romantic but probably unpleasant way to die.
I had decided against my Louboutin flip flops in the useless hope my feet would stay halfway warm and dry before the start, but had gone all out on the rest of my outfit. I chose a fashionable, aquatic theme for the bottom, donning my neoprene wetsuit in my hotel room before venturing outside. On top, I opted for winter chic: layered merino undershirt, long-sleeved running T and softshell jacket with the ever-popular little black dress bin bag over the top.
Backstage in the portaloo was dry but unfortunately offered no lights or dress assistants. I fought my way into the soggy top half of my wetsuit with difficulty – ripped holes seem to be all the rage but ten minutes from race start was not the time for a makeover – and joined the row of neoprene-clad models penguins waiting behind the curtain tape.
The race was on!
Split decisions in transition put speed and style before cosiness: I didn’t bother with the elegant gilet or fitted dishwashing gloves I had prepared; my layer of body fat wasn’t going to have an issue with 10 degrees Celsius. I also left the sunglasses – sorry Karl but my model clearly doesn’t have integrated windscreen wipers.
The Renault Zoe opening the road for me must have had some but they didn’t seem to be doing much good. A few times I almost ended up on the back seat as I slid round a bend faster than I probably should have. Rain pelted down, flooding the road and stinging my skin, lifting my tires clear of the tarmac.
I joyfully aquaplaned for 50 kilometres, enjoying the speed and the challenge thrown on by weather and the cheers of the drenched spectators.
Verdon Fashion Week was in full swing on the busier second lap: the supermodels who were going to be on the runway much longer than I was were wearing anything and everything to wow the crowds – and stay warm: Rain jackets, anoraks, high viz’ waterproofs… I even saw a backpack or two (hot thermos?!) and a few little black dresses… It was definitely not what Rapha had in mind for the cycling world, but hey, what works, works.
Walkin’ the walk
The sky finally seemed to have exhausted its supply of rain as I skidded into transition. Slightly disappointing… where was the challenge?
I needn’t have worried. The 2-loop trail run was almost completely off-road and turned my footwork into catwalk excellence of the very highest level: who needs heels when you have rain and clay?? I had no idea my feet, hips and ankles could all move in separate directions at once and keep going forwards at the same time. My fellow models were doing a pretty awesome job as well.
Eat that Naomi…
With a kg of mud encrusted on each foot and a big smile on my face I made it to the finish line, where a cloak of glorious gold and scintillating silver was draped around my shoulders…
Kudos to all who made it round, especially the guy in the immaculate white trisuit I passed at one stage and to those who had to dig around in the mud to retrieve lost Jimmy Choos…
Thanks to the Eric & his team for keeping it safe, to Graveman for the funky painting, to all the new faces for the positive vibes.
See you next year for the presentation of the Spring/Summer collection?
Photo credits: Trimag, Philippe Murtas, NatureMan
PS. For all those wondering if all this is just storytelling, you can get a shot of the action by watching the awesome aftermovie 😉
NATUREMAN VAR – CLIP 2018 from Les Films Du Grand Large on Vimeo.