BOMBINGS PROMPT DROPOUTS AT PARIS EVENT

Byline: William Middleton

PARIS--The wave of bombings sweeping Paris has caused several fashion houses to cancel their participation in an annual luxury event, Les Vendanges, a party that celebrates the beginning of the French wine harvest and attracts thousands every year to the elegant Avenue Montaigne.
Christian Dior, Celine and Nina Ricci have pulled out of next Thursday's soiree, throwing the entire event into question.
"We are no longer participating, because it is impossible to assure security," explained a spokeswoman for Dior.
Caroline Crabbe, director of communications for Nina Ricci, confirmed that Ricci officials also decided on Tuesday not to participate.
At Celine, Lucien Goddet, director of external relations, said, "We are canceling, and no other group from LVMH will participate, either." A spokesman for Louis Vuitton, however, was more cautious. "We are waiting to confirm or cancel our participation--a decision has not yet been made."
Despite the pull-outs, Nathalie Noyal, the organizer of the event for the ComitA Montaigne, remained optimistic.
"Only two out of 28 members have notified us of their cancellation: Dior and Celine," she explained. Noyal noted that safety is clearly an issue and that additional security has been planned for the event.
"All authorities, including Paris police, have authorized the Vendanges, but it is true that the security situation is preoccupying all of our houses."
Other companies that normally participate in Les Vendanges include Bulgari, Cartier, Escada, Genny, Jil Sander, Loewe, Piaget, Revillion and Thierry Mugler. It could not be learned at presstime whether these firms still plan to participate.
The current spate of bombings began here on July 25, with a deadly explosion in the Place St. Michel Metro station. The most recent incidents occurred this week, with one bomb exploding in a crowded street market near La Bastille on Sunday and a defused explosive device found Monday near the Porte de Versailles Convention center, which housed this weekend's apparel trade shows.
Department stores, trade shows and other highly frequented public venues are under heavy surveillance by French police, while management has also been forced to beef up private security.
Other events, such as a star-studded Planet Hollywood opening planned for last Sunday, have been canceled by authorities because of the security risks posed. The ComitA Montaigne's Noyal explained that a majority of participants would have to cancel in order for the event to be canceled, and that a final decision would be made later this week.

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