By Mimosa Spencer
with contributions from Miles Socha
 on March 27, 2020
Louis Vuitton Men's Fall 2020 show

PARIS — The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body, has cancelled upcoming men’s and haute couture fashion weeks, delivering another deep disappointment to an industry struggling to come to grips with the coronavirus calamity.

“In light of the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic worldwide, strong decisions are required to ensure the safety and health of Houses, their employees and everyone working in our industry,” the Federation said in a statement Friday.

Men’s fashion week was scheduled from June 23 to 28 while the haute couture shows were slated for July 5 to 9.

It was set to be an electrifying week, with the return of Balenciaga as well as the debut of Jean-Paul Gaultier’s guest designer concept with Sacai.

Balenciaga  said it will postpone its haute couture launch until January 2021.

“We fully support this decision as it is important to contribute to the nationwide efforts aimed at curbing the pandemic,” said the Kering-owned fashion house.

“Today the priority is the health and well-being of all of our partners,” said Ralph Toledano, president of the federation, noting it was an obvious decision to make amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“For the moment we are thinking about protecting our teams and protecting our business, it’s the central subject, but we’re also thinking about what the exit to the crisis will be like and what changes will take place, but it’s not the time to take active decisions and make sudden announcements. We need to reflect on ideas and let them mature and discuss them together,” he added.

Toledano said that the federation’s teams were working around the clock to help answer questions from members — notably young brands.

“We have to support them and help them get through this very, very difficult moment — payments are coming with unacceptable difficulty,” he said.

Pascal Morand, the federation’s executive president, had told WWD several days ago that it was actively working with members on possible alternatives to the shows.

With France on lockdown as authorities battle the coronavirus outbreak, the federation’s priority is informing its members about government aid available to companies as they seek to maintain cash flow, and pay suppliers and staff, the executive said.

Unlike industry organizations in other countries, including the Camera Della Moda in Italy, the French fashion sector has not lobbied the government for help because the emergency packages apply to all companies in the country.

France last week unblocked 45 billion euros in aid for companies and workers whose revenues are impacted by the closure of all nonessential businesses in the country. The bulk of the sum, 32 billion euros, has been earmarked for deferring taxes and social charges. In addition, the government has set up a solidarity fund worth 2 billion euros a month for companies whose activities have been suspended.

Balenciaga’s planned haute couture debut, half a century after the Spanish founder Cristóbal Balenciaga closed his legendary couture house, came as a surprise to the industry. As reported, Cédric Charbit, president and chief executive officer of Balenciaga, had said that Demna Gvasalia’s first haute couture collection would be a “synthesis between the street and the salon.” Gvasalia is known for highly-coveted sneakers, hoodies and bomber jackets both at Balenciaga and at Vetements, the brand he founded with his brother Guram in 2014.

Adding further excitement to couture week, Sacai’s Chitose Abe was scheduled to create the fall couture collection for Jean-Paul Gaultier, becoming the first outside designer invited to interpret the expansive label, which was established by its namesake designer nearly 40 years ago.

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