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Paris Move Reignites Show Dates Battle

France’s Chambre Syndicale said its members had voted unanimously to stick to its planned dates for Paris Fashion Weeks in 2013 and 2014.

The Louvre museum and the Pyramid.

PARIS — Back to the drawing board.

This story first appeared in the December 15, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After months of back-and-forth, the fashion show calendar battle heated up again Wednesday when France’s Chambre Syndicale said its members had voted unanimously to stick to its planned dates for Paris Fashion Weeks in 2013 and 2014. The proposed dates thwart weeks of efforts by organizers in New York, Milan and London to reach agreement on the show schedule.

The slotted Paris dates are as follows: Feb. 26 to March 6 and Sept. 24 to Oct. 2 in 2013, and Feb. 25 to March 5 and Sept. 23 to Oct. 1 in 2014.

Hermès deputy managing director Guillaume de Seynes presided over the board meeting where the vote took place.

The Paris schedule would clash with the second-Thursday ruling proposed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America for both the February and September show weeks in 2013 and 2014.

After butting heads over a clashing of proposed show calendars for next September through to 2014, the CFDA over the past few weeks has been hashing out dates with Italy’s Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. In late November, Italian officials had agreed to a proposal put forward in October by CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg to begin New York Fashion Week on the second Thursday in September, starting in 2013, a scenario which would have pushed the opening day of Paris Fashion Week back to Oct. 2 in 2013 and Oct. 1 in 2014.

The deal hinged on two conditions set by Italy’s chamber: First, New York would have to shed its last day, to allow London an extra day to present its men’s wear collections, and, second, Paris would have to agree with the schedule.

The CFDA is subsequently said to have sent a letter to Italy’s chamber agreeing to move its dates for September 2012 shows to Sept. 6 to 13 to avoid clashing with Milan, and to open on the second Thursday in September 2013 and 2014. But it rejected Italy’s demand to eliminate the second Thursday of New York Fashion Week — a day when Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein Collection are among the headliners. A final deal was expected to be reached in January.

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Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale, said that he recently wrote “to everyone” saying that the Chambre Syndicale had not been involved in any of the discussions and that no decisions would be made regarding Paris show dates before Wednesday’s board meeting.

“It was perfectly open and clear and very obvious that our members could not accept this.…We fall at the end of the calendar. All of the member houses agreed that this would make them very late in taking orders, which in turn would be penalizing for deliveries. It’s an industrial reason: you are a manufacturer, you need your orders early,” said Grumbach.

“Who wants to be penalized? It doesn’t make sense. We have had lots of meetings about pushing Paris show dates earlier as many brands really want that,” he continued, adding that he plans to send a letter explaining the decision to the CFDA’s von Furstenberg.

“Many of our members come from abroad, we have to be very careful about our movements,” Grumbach said.

Von Furstenberg said that she was surprised by Paris’ decision.

“I don’t understand why Paris completely and totally just ignored what all of us have worked so hard on,” she said. “I am speechless.

“I just e-mailed [Grumbach] and said that I was completely in shock,” she added.

A spokesperson from the British Fashion Council said, “This is a disappointing response when all other parties had been trying to work together to find a resolution that works for all.”

CFDA chief executive officer Steven Kolb said, “Right now, our plan is to move forward based on the compromise that we accepted with Milan and London, and we don’t understand why Paris is not agreeing and we’re confused by it. It doesn’t make any sense to us. We would hope that Milan would stick to their word independent of what Paris thinks.”

It looks more likely, though, that the Italian fashion capital will align itself with its French counterpart.

Reached on Wednesday, Mario Boselli, head of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, did not comment on the Paris decision.

“I am not critical and I don’t want to judge Paris’ decision,” Boselli said. “One thing is sure: it’s unthinkable for Milan and Paris to overlap. We were very clear, we tried to find a solution, but we didn’t succeed. We were going to move if Paris was also moving. As Paris is not moving, we won’t either.

“Perhaps the only way out would be for the Americans to reduce their fashion week to seven days, as nine days is too long, and start a couple of days after Labor Day,” Boselli added.