PARIS FASHION WEEK : Day 4, Coffee With Coco

“Mike, use this sheet,” Hayley Barker said. I was lying on the bed but still using my jacket for a blanket.

Morning came and I had slept four hours on a bed. This was progress. But I woke up in incredible pain, enough for it to be difficult to get out of bed. That was unprogressive. I made all sorts of crazy noises as I struggled to get up, hobbling to the bathroom and soaking my back in hot water for a half hour.

When I got back, Amanda Hakan asked me, “Do you think your back hurts because you slept in a bed?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Maybe?”

Maybe it was because I’d broken my back in seven places less than six months ago. I was pretty sure the answer had something to do with that.

“Maybe you’d be better off sleeping on the floor again,” she said.


Who knows? The funny thing about breaking your back is it hurts, a lot, at random, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sleeping on the floor was normal. Sleeping anywhere and waking up in crippling pain was the new normal.

C’est la vie.

“What do we have to do today?” I asked the girls.

“We’re going to meet Coco Rocha and her husband James Conran for coffee,” Hayley said.

Thank goodness. If there’s one thing that I was prepared to do, it was meet somebody for coffee.


“In a few hours.”


The Paris Metro and the New York Subway are both similar and different. They both serve the same purpose, but how they go about it makes the difference. We talked about it as we walked down the staircase and through the gates.

Right away I can testify that both the Metro and the Subway have mystery water that drips on you unexpectedly. Nobody can explain where the water comes from in either place. Hayley nimbly avoided a few drops as we walked by one of the underground fruit stands in the hallway.

“It smells like green tea,” Amanda noticed, “green tea and Lysol, like a toilet bowl disc.”

Of course both the Subway and the Metro transit systems occasionally reek like stale piss, but that’s part of the underground train experience… and both are filled with crazy stench riddled people.

We got to the train platform and waited for the train. Metro tunnels are far better lit, with white shiny tiles reflecting the light far more efficiently than does the dark concrete in New York tunnels. I also couldn’t help but the notice the lack of a river of filth flowing between the tracks in Paris. I’m not completely sure I know why the New York Subway is so much grimier, but that’s how it is, and I guess we must like it that way. We hadn’t seen any rats in Paris, but from what the locals had told us, New York rats would eat Paris rats for a light lunch.

After three connections and a little walking, we managed to get to the Westin Hotel, a luxury hotel across the street from the Jardin de Tuileries. We walked into the hotel bar and found the couple sitting at a table in the back.

Coco and James seemed very relaxed, very cool and down to earth. We chit chatted about fashion week for a few minutes, with James mentioning that he liked the photos posted on the [Burberry]( post from London Fashion Week, which I thought was cool because Amanda had taken the shots. It also turned out they’d gone glamping at Escape to New York, giving us another mutual Milk related topic to discuss. We talked briefly about kids today and the evolution of technology, all of us agreeing that the future was gonna be crazy.

It was impossible not to notice how creative and talented the couple was. They kept bouncing ideas off each other and building upon them, giving us a little insight into why they’ve been so successful working together. They were an extremely charming and unpretentious duo, and it was a breath of fresh air to be in their presence.

Coco told us about how her mother-in-law asked her if they ever get sick of each other after spending so much time together. She said no, and she went on to talk about some people go months without seeing each other, but to her, what’s the point of being married if you’re not going to see the other person?

They’d just bought a house in Westchester, and they were super excited about it. They’d considered a castle for a minute, but decided against it partially based on the heating bill and cost of upkeep. The idea for a castle had been planted by Karl Lagerfeld, who had nonchalantly set his castle brochure down on a table in front of Coco. It would have been a laugh, but really they were just looking for a quiet home outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.

The couple invited us to come up to their hotel suite to check out the view, an offer we couldn’t refuse. We accompanied them up to a balcony that overlooked the city, giving us our first chance to see the Eiffel Tower. Coco posed for a few photos for Amanda as James showed the virtual star scape on his iPhone. It was like we were just hanging out with our friends, swapping stories, telling jokes and taking Instagrams.

We had to run so I could get to an internet source, which turned out to be a McDonald’s down the street. We said goodbye to our friends and went back to the Paris streets.

As we walked out of the hotel, Amanda had more spark in her than I’d seen all week.

“I can’t believe I got a chance to shoot Coco Rocha!” she beamed. She was shining with a cheer that was contagious, and I was happy that she was happy. “I can’t believe I got a chance to sit down and get to know them! I’m star struck!” she said, and then paused.

“Well… not star struck… that’s not cool, right?” she added in a sarcastic tone.

I didn’t think there was anything wrong about occasionally being star struck, just as long as it was warranted. The only time I remember being struck was when I met Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Sundance Film Festival. That guy is beyond awesome. I imagine if I met Bill Murray or Wayne Gretzky, I’d feel the same way.

Mike Abu

Photos by Amanda Hakan

Related Stories

New Stories

Load More


Like Us On Facebook