Byline: William Middleton

PARIS — Three weeks before the Paris ready-to-wear collections open here, the calendar is in a state of disarray.
Chanel, historically the last major show on the schedule, decided last week to move up to the opening days of the season. Instead of showing on Monday, March 17, the house has taken over Chloe’s slot on Wednesday, March 12.
“We had always wanted Chanel to show earlier, but were never given a choice,” Karl Lagerfeld said Friday. “The Chambre Syndicale only wanted us at the end to keep people in Paris for all those unidentified players. Chanel shouldn’t be used to keep people here longer than they have to be.”
Chanel’s move raises concerns about an exodus from Paris as early as Sunday.
A Chanel spokeswoman explained the decision in more diplomatic terms. “We felt the strongest houses were all grouped before the weekend and that we were isolated at the end with the newer houses,” she explained. “We decided that our place was with the stronger houses.”
The schedule for the season runs March 10-19 and contains more than 90 shows spread out over 10 days, with almost 40 additional collections available by appointment. Major houses scheduled to show on or before the weekend include Christian Dior, Givenchy, John Galliano, Lagerfeld, Helmut Lang, Christian Lacroix, Yohji Yamamoto and Valentino. The only big houses scheduled to show after Monday are Pierre Cardin and Rochas, with the other slots filled by lesser-known names such as Slowik, John Ribbe, Yuki Torii, Doby Broda and Geoffrey B. Small.
The Chambre Syndicale’s Denise Dubois said, “It was divine to have had Chanel on the final Monday to insure the season’s highlights were spread out. We always try to give the calendar an equilibrium.”
A new schedule will be released this week.