MY GENERATION: It was a new vantage of designers that crossed the pond this season for the Americans in Paris program, created by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue, and now in its 10th edition.
Eight designers, including the three winners of the 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund — Gypsy Sport’s Rio Uribe, Jonathan Simkhai and Brother Vellies’ Aurora James — and five finalists got to show their creations to press and buyers at the new venue for the event at Espace Commines in the Marais.
“It’s been a great few days,” said Jonathan Simkhai, one of the winners. “This is our last group activity, and the camaraderie between the designers has been fantastic,” he said.
All the finalists participated in Amazon’s fly-on-the-wall documentary “The Fashion Fund,” meaning they have spent a lot of time together in recent months — the difference being for their field trip to Paris, there were few cameras and mikes to follow them around.
The exposure — and instantly shoppable collections on Amazon — has done a lot to boost their activity, said Simkhai. “It’s been a tremendous response; our sales have increased in a significant way,” he said. “It feels like a moment for all of us.”
Thaddeus O’Neil, one of the finalists, had chosen not to show a collection in New York in February. The Paris showing, as such, was the first time he had previewed his fall collection, and he celebrated with a screening of a film featuring the designs at Silencio on Sunday evening.
“The plan is to do a consumer-facing show in September. I’ve only been in this business for three years, but it never made sense to me to do it six months in advance,” he said. “It will support our retailers. I’m an emerging designer. If it sells out, I’m happy with that.”
O’Neil had also been taking advantage of the trip to Paris to test some local delicacies. “We ordered steak tartare — it was enormous, and totally raw,” he said, adding, “When in Rome…”
Aurora James of Brother Vellies was following a similar philosophy, and got up early Sunday morning to head to the flea markets on the edge of the capital.
James, who has her own store in New York for her artisanal accessories collection created with materials sourced from Africa, said she had appointments with around 20 potential retailers during the three-day event, which closed on Monday. “I would love to have my own store in Paris, maybe right here in the Marais,” she added.