Byline: Kristi Ellis, Los Angeles / Jennifer Weil, Paris

LOS ANGELES — The California Mart went to Paris last week via a video conference, showing off fashion from the state and looking to drum up business.
When the hour-long presentation began, it was 9 a.m. here and 6 p.m. at the U.S. consulate in Paris, where a group of about 55 onlookers — including European buyers, fashion editors and manufacturers — gathered for this first-time hookup. The event was cosponsored by the California Trade and Commerce Agency.
“Our goal is to deliver fashion to the world. Today is our first step toward the future,” said Susan Scheimann, acting president of the California Mart.
“With this videoconference, we are taking a step toward global, international sourcing,” said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Association.
“We urge you to come [to California] to do business — either through joint ventures or on a product-by-product basis.”
In Paris, the audience watched the proceedings from Los Angeles on a group of three TV screens while a fourth screen showed what was being transmitted to Los Angeles from Paris.
The presentation included excerpts from California Collections Preview Spring ’98 fashion events at the mart, while three California designers participated in a discussion on how California culture influences their designs as well as such spring trends as multiethnic looks, the Eighties and vintage.
The three designers were Eduardo Lucero, the mart’s 1997 Rising Star Award recipient; Kellie Delkeskamp of Josephine Loka, and John Bernard, president of 26 Red/Sugar.
“Fashion is so integrated with music, movies and clubs here,” said Lucero.
“We’re fabricating images that a lot of the world is digesting and reinterpreting,” he said.
Bernard said he shops swap meets and vintage stores, looking for old designs with which he can create a new twist.
“I like to take the old and make it new,” he said. “It is called retro/future.”
A taped message from French-born Max Azria — president and designer of BCBG Max Azria and this year’s recipient of the mart’s Fashion Performance Award, telling how his business had flourished in California — especially pleased the Paris crowd, since his message was entirely in French.
The audience included representatives of French specialty store Franck & Fils and England’s Harvey Nichols.
During a question-and-answer period, queries included whether California designers might soon be represented at European trade shows, and the question has prompted Mart officials to look into the possibility of bringing a group to Europe. Mart officials also explained the facility’s various services when asked how the mart might help a French company get established in California.

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