Despite the high value of the euro, which has elevated the price of European goods, French trade show organizers are upbeat about the coming season.

They said steadily improving travel flows and the upswing in the economy bode well for their events, especially as they improve the level of exhibitors and angle to provide retailers with more pertinent fashion information on which to base their buying trips.

“Today, the economic situation is improving,” observed Jean-Pierre Mocho, president of the Prêt à Porter show, which will convene at the Porte de Versailles Sept. 3-6. “But it’s still not wonderful, and we can’t take anything for granted.”

For that reason, Mocho said the show would concentrate on offering buyers such services as a forum presenting innovative merchandising strategies for multibrand fashion and accessories stores, as well as a new franchising area where various brands can show their concepts to potential clients.

“We want to illustrate to stores that they need to evolve and be creative,” said Mocho.

The Prêt has undergone a complete makeover in recent years since Mocho and his management assumed control of the once-sleepy event. This season, he said, improvements will continue.

He said the fashion show will be “more concise” and that the overall selection will “become more selective and geared toward the high end.”

Atmosphere, the designer section, will be modernized with a futuristic look, and the young designer Casabo section will be more “fully developed,” Mocho said.

To mark the centennial of the “Entente Cordiale” between France and the United Kingdom, the Prêt will feature a special selection of British designers. And Mocho said that the show would continue its campaign to attract more American buyers, who traditionally visit the spate of smaller trade events coinciding with the Paris runway shows in October and March.

To wit: He said the Prêt was in the final stages of planning a “mini Prêt” in New York later this year. “The American market is very important for us and we want to develop it as fully as possible,” Mocho said.

Meanwhile, the Porte de Versailles will welcome several shows during the same period as the Prêt: Bijorcha, the jewelry show; the young fashion forum Who’s Next, and the first edition of the accessories show Premiere Classe.Who’s Next organizers Xavier Clergerie and Bertrand Foache, who also spearhead Premiere Classe, said that the difficult retail environment in Europe has spurred them to concentrate on creativity for the next shows.

“The most important thing is to showcase very creative fashion,” said Clergerie. “We will have some 20 new women’s fashion brands and we will continue to strengthen the overall quality.”

Clergerie said synergies would be created between Who’s Next and Premiere Classe, which decamped from within the Prêt last year to stand alone for the first time in January.

“The two shows will retain separate entrances, but once a buyer is inside either show, they can access the other one,” said Clergerie.

Clergerie also said that the second edition of Premiere Classe, which convenes Oct. 8-11 in the tents at the Tuileries Gardens, would similarly elevate the level of creativity.

“In today’s business environment, we believe that only the most creative fashion will sell,” said Clergerie. “It can’t be basic and it has to be very high quality.”

At Bijorcha, also at the Porte de Versailles Sept. 3-6, show director Sylvie Gaudy said that increasing comfort and practical services topped her agenda.

“We are inviting and paying for 50 top buyers from around the world to come to the show for the first time,” she said. “We are also holding a big party with a fashion show featuring precious jewels.”

Gaudy said the Montres et Bijoux section of the show, featuring watches and high-end jewelry, would include a trend forum focused on experimental pieces. “The level of creativity should be higher than ever,” she added.

Down south in Lyon, the Lyon Mode City lingerie fair, meeting Sept. 4-6 at the Eurexpo exhibition hall, will tack on some 10,000 square feet and feature more than 1,000 exhibitors. “We will have a lot of new brands,” said commercial director Yolanda Roca de Togores, citing Speedo, Max Mara, Moschino, California Waves and River Woods among the newcomers.

Lyon Mode City will feature three different fashion shows: one for lingerie, another for swimwear and a final show that mixes both. “We will also showcase two countries, Canada and Australia, both of which will have separate pavilions.”At Interfilière, Lyon Mode City’s sister show, manager Anne-Lise Thauvin said more than 35 new companies will be added to its offerings of fabrics and trimmings for lingerie.

“In our trend forum, we are really going to be directional,” said Thauvin. “Buyers want to see a strong statement. The economy has been difficult. But we’re beginning to see improvements. It’s important to be on top of your game in these conditions.”

Meanwhile, Première Vision, Europe’s foremost high-end fabric fair, will gather Sept. 21-24 at the Villepint exhibit hall, just north of Paris. Unusually, the fair will not spill over to Saturday, but will run from Tuesday to Friday.

“The economy’s still difficult, but it’s improving,” said Daniel Faure, PV president. “The euro’s strength against the dollar isn’t good for business, but Americans are still buying high-end European textiles, and that’s a good sign.”

For the second season running, the Expofil yarn fair will show alongside PV. Faure said this creates synergies for buyers and has added to PV’s overall appeal.

“Our challenge continues to be to stay on top,” Faure said.

Across town, at Texworld, the fair organized by Messe Frankfurt that features less expensive textiles, director Stephanie Keukert said Indian silk mills would be showcased at the session Sept. 21-24.

Gathering at the CNIT complex at La Défense, the business district just west of Paris, the fair will also include 630 exhibitors from such countries as South Korea, China and Turkey.

“We are bringing in new Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic and Romania,” said Keukert. “We are quite optimistic for the season. The majority of our mills do business in dollars, so we don’t feel the negative effect of the strong euro.”

Paris is also home to small, yet innovative fairs that gather in the capital around the runway shows. These include Workshop, the designer forum run by Sarah Tenot, which will meet at the Cercle Republican and the Regina Hotel; Tranoi, organized by Armand Hadida, who owns Paris’ L’Eclaireur stores, and Paris sur Mode and Atmosphere, which are held in the tents at the Tuileries Gardens and the Hotel Saint James & Albany. They all run Oct. 8-11.“Buyers need smaller, directional shows to find a more personal approach to fashion,” said Hadida.

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