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.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)