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Notebook: Gaga interview at Fashion Week is pure French bliss

By Monita Rajpal, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN's Monita Rajpal is at Paris Fashion Week
  • Clad in her own 6-inch heels, Rajpal races to her interview with Lady Gaga
  • She waited over a day for a 10-minute interview
  • The results: Pure French bliss at the fashion show

Editor's Note: Monita Rajpal is a CNN news anchor on "World News." She's also the presenter of CNN International's monthly art and culture show "icon." Rajpal, covering Paris Fashion Week, gives her reflections on interviewing Lady Gaga during a week when, for once, not all eyes were on the singing superstar.

Paris (CNN) -- Without the star attraction on Wednesday, this might have just been another fashion show at Paris Fashion Week.

There were whispers and rumors that the designer's muse would make an appearance, but no one was certain. We were also in the dark.

We knew that Lady Gaga would be strutting down the catwalk as part of Nicola Formichetti's womenswear show for Mugler (of Thierry Mugler fame), but we weren't sure if Gaga would turn up for an interview with CNN.

For 24 hours, her people who were in touch with our people could not confirm if the interview would actually go ahead, but they encouraged us to come to Paris anyway to see the catwalk show. So we did.

It wasn't your average fashion show.

For one, it was in a basketball gym. The basketball hoops were carefully hidden from view, and the set clearly overtook the space.

Speaking with Lady Gaga and her designer
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Scores of gothic arches lined the runway with dozens of photographers marking the foot of the catwalk. This made for a striking alternative to just a white walkway for the crowd, but for the scrum of photographers poised at the foot of the runway, this couldn't have been worse.

Their concerns were justified. It seemed no one could get a really clear image of the show or the models as they strutted down the catwalk.

One photographer said it was hard enough not getting enough space to work in (photographers are usually given little more than the width of their shoulders to set up camp for the show), but it was something else not being able to see the proverbial wood from the trees (full disclosure: the gothic columns were made of wood).

Another was so angry that he wouldn't be able to sell any of the footage as he said none of it was useable.

But theatrical it was, and Gaga wouldn't have it any other way.

Speakers blasted her latest single, "Born This Way," as the superstar strutted down the catwalk amidst the models. The models themselves were interesting.

There was a model with his whole shaved head tattooed -- a skull and a brain. He apparently has a starring role in Gaga's "Born This Way" video.

Then there were the shoes. Some of them were as high as 15 inches (platform of course). It was an extreme runway with some justification as the models teetered tentatively down the end of catwalk. A couple even stumbled.

I remember staring at my own 6-inch heels and wondered what I was complaining about as I walked slowly around the show.

As for the clothes, I was expecting a lot of leather and PVC -- your average gothic look. I was pleasantly surprised to see some pieces I would wear: gorgeous slinky dresses and yes, even the PVC high-waisted pencil skirt.

My producer, Jonathan, tried to stay in the shadows so no one would notice his (in his own words) "$5 brown corduroy jacket bought from a Kabul market."

When the Lady herself emerged puffing a cigarette, clad in a black bra, black hat, black PVC trousers and VERY high black knee-high boots, sections of the crowd whooped with delight.

What you have to know about fashion shows, especially during Paris Fashion Week, is that this is the time for buyers and fashion editors to see the newest collection so it isn't just about the entertainment factor.

Anyway, back to the Gaga show.

While the set was lit up, the darkness in the crowd was lit by the multitude of LED lights from the many mobile phones capturing every moment.

Then just 12 minutes later, the show ended and the crowd slowly exited the gym. However, we went against the tide (me in my 6-inch heels) and made our way backstage.

Our contact negotiated with the burly bodyguards to let us through to the other side, where we walked up stairs, across bleachers (me trying not to trip over the miles of lighting cables) to where our second cameraman had set up lights and cameras. This is where the interview with Lady Gaga and Nicola Formichetti would take place -- if it would take place at all. And then we waited.

To be fair, when this whole interview opportunity first came up, we were told it would take place after the show at 11 p.m. local time. Then when we got to our spot, we were told Gaga would show up in an hour. Then it was 15 minutes and then it was half an hour.

True to their word, 30 minutes later there was a flurry of activity below us, and we saw the singer and her stylist weaving their way through the crowds taking their plaudits from those who were part of the show as they sipped champagne.

When Lady Gaga approached, she was in good spirits. She introduced herself as Gaga, and she was excited for her friend Nicola -- he was the man behind the infamous meat dress. In fact, one of the first things she said was she didn't want to take any credit for the show or for the collection. Although she did say she had bought the lot.

For Gaga, this was a night not about her but about the man who helped create her image and look. Throughout the interview, she embraced and kissed him.

She looked at him lovingly, and they acted like friends in a playground. For his part, he seemed shy, grateful for the applause, but very much taking his cue from his famous friend.

The interview went well -- after all, we were talking about the brand (both Mugler and Lady Gaga) -- until I asked about John Galliano, who was ousted from Dior after reportedly making anti-Semitic remarks. I had to.

Designer John Galliano apologizes

This was the biggest news during Paris Fashion Week, and people were commenting and reacting. But when I asked the question if they had any reaction to the scandal, you could almost hear a pin drop.

Gaga quickly looked at her publicist and said she didn't want to comment. Rather, she said, she wanted "to keep it positive."

After a few more questions about marketing and business, I commented on her shoes as I wanted to know how she was able to walk in her very high platform shoes, which by the way have no heels.

They were high platforms that basically look like she's on her tiptoes. I asked because I was embarrassed to admit I was walking very carefully in my heels.

Both Gaga and Formichetti immediately knew the make of my shoes (YSL) and we bonded. The interview came to an end.

We took some photographs, and I left for the bureau to edit the piece. We waited for this for over a day, and it was over in 10 minutes.

I enjoyed the show. I liked the clothes. I thought she was nice and personable but very careful in what she said. It's not every day I get to interview a megastar, and you couldn't get any bigger than Lady Gaga these days.

 
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