PARIS -- Showing early will be au courant at the Paris ready-to-wear shows here next month -- and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour is partly responsible.
Christian Dior, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent are among houses that have moved their shows up to the earlier part of Paris Fashion Week, March 7-15, to catch foreign journalists who might cut short their trips.
"Our agreement with everyone was that we must have a minimum of four major shows a day," said Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, which organizes Paris Fashion Week.
Wintour has been among the more vocal proponents of an abbreviated international calendar and is said to have telephoned designers personally, beginning with Galliano, to ask them to schedule their shows earlier in the week. Grumbach would only say: "She wanted some important shows every day and that's what we have."
A Vogue spokesman confirmed her campaign, however. "Anna Wintour, along with many of her colleagues within the fashion press, contacted the Chambre Syndicate for two reasons. The first was to condense a long and unwieldy week of shows. The second was to move Paris Fashion Week closer to the end of the Milan shows. We are thrilled that they are responding by showing earlier and condensing the schedule," he said in a telephone interview.
The final calendar won't be released until later this week, but the provisional one sets Tuesday, March 12 as the last major day for American journalists, with Chloe, Valentino, Chanel, Celine, Martin Margiela and Veronique Branquinho on the schedule. The final three days features a mix of European and Japanese designers, including Vivienne Westwood, Clements Ribeiro, Guy Laroche, Junko Shimada and Atsuro Tayama. "Yes, some American press leave, but the Japanese press stays up until the end," Grumbach said.
Meanwhile, one designer conspicuously absent from next month's Paris schedule is Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens, famous for staging late, out-of-the-way spectacles. A spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Theyskens will not present a runway show this season nor show his collection in a Paris showroom. He declined to elaborate and Theyskens could not be reached for comment.Efforts to shorten fashion weeks in Europe go back to March 2000, when Amy Spindler, style editor of the New York Times Magazine, drafted a letter to designers on behalf of fashion's leading newspaper and magazine editors requesting that Milan and Paris concentrate their shows over an 11-day period. It was designed to end the practice of scheduling major designers' shows at the beginning and end of each fashion week to make sure everyone stayed for the duration. Dubbed "Spindler's List," the names of the 35 to 40 European houses considered the most important were never disclosed.
Grumbach acknowledged such pronouncements are subjective. "Someone might consider that Marc Le Bihan is a major show," he said. "But most would agree that Dior is more major than Richard Edwards."
As reported in WWD on Wednesday, Italian designers have been jockeying for strategic time slots on the Milan calendar, Feb. 24 to March 5, knowing editors and buyers will be arriving later in the week.
Grumbach said he has been urging Milan to shorten its calendar, but he said he couldn't promise the same for Paris, which is enjoying a major renaissance as the key fashion capital. "We have 11 shows a day, one per hour and everything is major," he said. "And we have no secondary lines at all. There are more and more designers who want to show here. Next season, there will be Chinese designers coming and we will have to accommodate them, too."
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