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FLYING THE FLAG: Britain’s Ambassador to France, Sir Peter Ricketts, threw open a gilded ballroom at his sumptuous Paris residence on Thursday evening for a reception celebrating British designers in Paris.
London talents including Christopher Kane, Richard Nicoll, Erdem Moralioglu, Anya Hindmarch, Mary Katrantzou and Stephen Jones attended the event, organized by U.K. Trade & Investment, in partnership with the British Fashion Council and the U.K. Fashion and Textile Association.
They were joined by retail executives including Printemps chairman and chief executive officer Paolo de Cesare; Karen Katz, president and and ceo of the Neiman Marcus Group, and Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo.
In keeping with the evening’s theme, guests nibbled on English cheeses and drank Nyetimber sparkling wine. “I hope anyone who is French here who has been drinking, thinking, ‘What a wonderful glass of Champagne,’ is now feeling a bit guilty to find it’s British,” Ricketts said to laughter from the crowd.
The ambassador noted that Britain was enjoying a banner year for fashion thanks to the positive repercussions of the Queen’s Jubilee and Her Majesty’s now infamous parachute stunt with James Bond at the Olympics.
Several designers present at the reception created clothes for the Olympic opening ceremony. Nasir Mazhar contributed outfits for a segment dedicated to youth culture, while shirt brand Palmer//Harding outfitted two flag bearers.
Levi Palmer, one half of the design duo, said the shirt featured in the Olympics has since become a hit with buyers. Though Palmer//Harding does 70 percent of its business in the United States, it hopes to reach more European buyers through the London Showrooms initiative in Paris.
“We need to enter the French market and the Italian market because there are some beautiful concept stores that understand what’s next, that maybe aren’t aware of us yet,” Palmer said. “Just by showing in Paris, you have a bit of mystique behind you.”
Sini Moilanen, the Finnish-born designer of London-based label Tramp in Disguise, was banking on her theme this season to draw in retailers. “I had a Middle Eastern inspiration, so I’m hoping to maybe get more Middle Eastern clients,” she said.
Karen Wright, sales manager at fledgling brand Uzma Bozai, said it was showing at the MeMy Mode trade show for its second season at retail.
“For the international buyers, we prefer Paris,” she said. “We’re a very young label, so obviously we wanted to direct our costs and our time and our efforts where we found the most rewards.”