NURTURING VARIETY

PARIS--Though it's only three seasons old this October, the Carrousel de la Mode has already become an essential fashion pitstop in the City of Light. Located in the city's central Tuileries Gardens, the four-day salon kicks this season off on Oct. 14, when more than 300 exhibitors will be spaced throughout 10,000 square meters of exhibition space in airy custom-built tents.
Last spring, buyers representing 4,000 stores came to the Carrousel de la Mode, organized jointly by the Chambre Syndicale, which governs high fashion in France, and Profem, the country's ready-to-wear federation. "Our aim is to attract the right kind of buyers: retailers who come to Paris to find what's new in fashion," explained Gerard Roudine, director general of Profem. The Carrousel de la Mode is composed of four sections: Premiere Classe, the largest, which is devoted to accessories; Paris sur Mode; Groupe des Halles and Atmosphere, part of which is held across the Rue de Rivoli in the Hotel St. James. Previously these shows were all scattered across Paris in such bizarre locations as on a floating swimming pool and in the center of a suburban racetrack. "From the beginning, the goal has been that each section retains its particular flavor. Each has its own image and concept. We are determined that organizers have the freedom to lay out their show the way they want," stressed Roudine.
Each sector is free to chose who shows within their rubric. Though both the Chambre and Profem have a veto right, neither side has ever used this power.
The Carrousel de la Mode is also conveniently located for retailers--just two minutes from the Carrousel du Louvre, the underground center where 40 leading fashion houses will stage runway shows in fashion week. The Chambre is also sponsoring two young designers--Jérome L'Huillier and Franck Sorbier--to show inside the Carrousel du Louvre and plans to continue this policy in future seasons.
"We've been given a great opportunity. This is the right way to nurture fashion talent. I just hope I seize the opportunity," said L'Huillier.
This season, there's also an exhibition by young animal sculptor Jean-Marie Fiori and a special sale of T-shirts created by 18 designers, including Claude Montana, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Martin Margiela and Olivier Guillemen. The money raised will go to a hospital for impoverished children in Brazil.
A key long-term goal for the Carrousel de la Mode is to cement Paris's standing as the fashion capital of the world. The event, which attracts fashion-forward and cutting-edge fashion designers, is a 50-50 mix of French and foreign resources, underlining the organizers' desire to keep Paris a truly international fashion market.
"Ours is a business where you can't predict one or two years ahead. But we can say that if we attract enough inventive and creative resources, more will come, and Paris will stay the first choice of most designers to show off their ideas," emphasized Yves Mouclier, the Carrousel's director of development.

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