PARIS — Who could have imagined 15 years ago that men’s fashion week in Paris would become a force to be reckoned with?
Certainly not Ralph Toledano, the newly elected president of the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode.
“Nobody cared about Paris for men’s back then,” he said, marveling that the showcase has blossomed into a bustling five-day affair, arguably challenging Europe’s traditional men’s runway hub of Milan. “Because we are strong, Thom Browne shows here and we are happy to have him. Something has happened in this country.”
According to federation tallies, there were 36 men’s shows in 1999 versus 51 last month.
Toledano, who is also to continue as president of the fashion division at Puig, arrives at the helm of French fashion’s governing body to find the fashion capital in rude health — which is why he is adopting an urgent, proactive stance to widen Paris’ lead.
“You have to challenge yourself tremendously because you want to stay on top and you want to be better,” he said. “We want the most exciting shows to happen here.”
He acknowledged a changing of the guard at fashion weeks in Milan and London in the past two years — with the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda appointing advertising guru Jane Reeve as its chief executive officer, and the British Fashion Council tapping Net-a-porter founder Natalie Massenet as its chairman — provides an extra impetus.
Toledano, who succeeds longtime president Didier Grumbach after the latter’s 16-year tenure, speaks in plural because he insists it’s a “team effort” thanks to a five-person executive committee Grumbach introduced to bolster the federation’s brain trust, multiply its missions and speed decision-making.
Besides Toledano, the committee’s members are Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel; Guillaume de Seynes, managing director at Hermès; Sidney Toledano, ceo of Dior, and fashion consultant and Hermès veteran Stéphane Wargnier, who was named executive president of the federation to run its day-to-day operations, given Ralph Toledano’s professional commitments.
“They are brilliant people, it’s really an asset,” Toledano said of his fellow committee members, noting that rivalries vanish when the executives gather in one room with the common goal of boosting Paris fashion. “I love it because it’s not a one-man show,” he enthused.
That said, Wargnier will take Grumbach’s seat at federation headquarters on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where it has been since 1935. “Stéphane is going to do the job,” he stressed.
Toledano said his overriding mission is to solidify Paris as the “unrivaled fashion capital of the world,” bolster training and education initiatives and cultivate and support new talent.
“We also need more financing than we have today to make all of those things happen,” he added.
Toledano said it’s too soon to map out concrete initiatives, but he hinted the federation would become “even more selective” to ensure that fashion weeks in Paris — headlined by the nine-day marathon of women’s ready-to-wear twice a year — mount in quality.
“The idea is not to make it longer; the idea is to make it stronger. Each show must deserve to be on the calendar,” he said, suggesting a Paris time slot could be rescinded for designers not up to snuff.
While Toledano is in the discreet mold of Grumbach, he acknowledged the federation could communicate more forcefully about its activities and accomplishments. To be sure, it has widened the footprint and appeal of Paris fashion weeks in tandem with the advance of French luxury, now a major economic force.
“Paris has been extremely low-key,” Toledano said, attributing that to the working style of Grumbach, a “visionary” who magnified the international complexion of the French capital and forged key trade and cultural relations with such powerful emerging economies as China, India and Brazil.
Among the federation’s quiet accomplishments was to prop up the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Toledano asserted that, with its unique mix of creative and technical education, it could become a legitimate challenger to fashion’s most famous school, London’s Central Saint Martins.
The École recently exhibited the graduation work of its fourth-year students, showcasing muslin prototypes and photos in an installation format that received wide acclaim.
Toledano said he does not view his federation role as an additional job, but rather an additional responsibility.
“Fashion is not a job for me,” he said. “It’s really something I love.”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty