PARIS — Police shot and killed a man in front of a police station in the Paris neighborhood of La Goutte-d’Or on the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, underlining the tensions still brewing in the French capital on the eve of the men’s ready-to-wear and women’s haute couture shows.
The area is home to a host of fashion designers such as Sakina M’Sa, whose atelier sits on Rue des Gardes, 100 yards from where police shot the man, who was carrying a knife and wearing a fake suicide vest, according to French media reports.
The street has been dubbed “Rue de la Mode,” following an initiative of the French Federation of Women’s Ready-to-Wear and the 18th arrondissement of Paris.
“Everything is shut right now,” said M’Sa, reached on her cell phone in the early afternoon. The designer was out collecting a parcel when gunshots rang out in the neighborhood. Security forces cordoned off the area and instructed residents to remain indoors, while subway transport was temporarily suspended.
“I haven’t been able to return to my atelier because everything is blocked,” she added.
Paris is still on edge following the attacks in November which killed 130 people, marking the second round of terrorist strikes on the French capital in the space of 12 months and the deadliest attack on France since World War II.
Moments before Thursday’s incident, President François Hollande praised police in a speech timed to coincide with the anniversary of the murder of 17 people at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in January 2015. He underlined that the battle was not over yet.
“Terrorism continues to represent a formidable threat to our country,” Hollande said.
In an unrelated incident, police cordoned off a section of the tony Rue Cambon at lunchtime on Thursday as security forces investigated a suspect package. Stores on that portion of the street include Roberto Cavalli, Agent Provocateur and Yohji Yamamoto.
The Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode — French fashion’s governing body — is understood to be fine-tuning its security instructions to ensure the smooth running of the men’s shows, from Jan. 20 to 24, and the couture displays, from Jan. 24 to 28.
No official announcement has been made so far.
Despite the ongoing security concerns, M’Sa sounded upbeat, noting she had posted a message on Facebook accompanied by a photograph of one of her designs, a sweatshirt bearing the slogan “Goutte d’Or J’adore,” in reaction to the events on Thursday.
“My team and I are safe. Thank you! Let’s stand together, let’s be strong. GOUTTE D’OR WE ADORE!!!” she wrote on the social media site. The designer has ties to French conglomerate Kering, having received a Social Entrepreneurs Award from its Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights in 2010.
Other brands with a presence on Rue des Gardes include Xuly Bët, Marcia de Carvalho and handbag brand Dognin. It is also home to L’Ecole de la Maille de Paris, a school specializing in training knitwear designers.
The surrounding area of Barbès, a multiethnic, cross-cultural neighborhood, is in the midst of a gentrification process that has some people comparing it to Brooklyn, as evidenced by the opening last year of trendy eaterie Brasserie Barbès. The area has long provided inspiration for fashion designers.
In 1984, Jean Paul Gaultier’s fall collection was inspired by Barbès and featured African prints and dresses with conical breasts. Then, in 1991, Azzedine Alaïa teamed with Tati, a Barbès institution of fast fashion, to pioneer capsule collections. Even Marc Jacobs had his take on Tati’s signature checked pattern.
More recently, Pharrell Williams was inspired by a trip to the Marché Saint Pierre, a fabrics market in use since the Twenties, for his collaboration with Adidas Originals, which featured floral unisex jackets as well as Stan Smith shoes.