FRANCE: CHANGE IS IN FASHION

Byline: Jennifer Weil

PARIS — Lots of fine-tuning and some major shifts mark the current French trade show agenda.
Faced with schedules different from those of their Italian counterparts and a depressed economy for apparel, many French show organizers have revised show dates to better meet the needs of international buyers.
In women’s ready-to-wear, the biggest change is a new event from the organizers of the French Pret-a-Porter trade show.
“We decided to introduce another salon because the opportunity presented itself with the new SEHM,” said Gerard Roudine, general manager of the rtw shows, referring to the new summer dates of the Salon International de l’Habillement Masculin men’s wear show, July 4-7, 1997.
The men’s trade fair had been held in September. The new dates put SEHM in sync with the French men’s designer runway shows and Italy’s Pitti Uomo events, both in July. The decision to move SEHM was prompted by pressure from many exhibitors after last September’s edition drew weak attendance.
The yet-to-be named new women’s rtw show tentatively is scheduled for July 4-6, at Paris’s Porte de Versailles, two months before the larger Paris Pret-a-Porter show, which runs Sept. 5-8.
“The salon was created for the clients of our exhibitors who buy early, those for whom September is too late, like buyers from northern Europe,” Roudine said. The new Pret-a-Porter show is expecting some 150 international exhibitors. The Pret-a-Porter’s Jan. 24-27 dates remain unchanged.
Also on the July Paris schedule is the Salon de la Mode Enfantine children’s wear fair, which had moved from September to July in 1994 in response to market demand. According to show director Ines Brisset, it made more sense to have a summer event since Italy’s leading children’s wear show, Pitti Bimbo, has always been in July.
“We are welcoming the move of SEHM,” Brisset said. “We were feeling a bit lonely by ourselves in July. I think that the new SEHM dates are very positive from an international point of view, as well as a national point of view.” The summer Salon de la Mode Enfantine takes place July 5-7.
The shifting of the men’s wear event also has resulted in a slight change in the haute couture showings. The Chambre Syndicale, which organizes the couture showings, will start the collections one day later; it has moved them to July 7-10. Under the former schedule, the shows started on a weekend, and the couture would have begun on Sunday, July 6.
With this shift, the couture will overlap with SEHM for only half a day. Jacques Mouclier, president of the Chambre Syndicale, said the SEHM move was a good one, putting the show “more in step with the men’s world of fashion, and the later start for the couture takes some of the pressure off its new time slot.”
A more convenient venue is planned for a trio of ready-to-wear and accessories shows — Carrousel de la Mode, Paris sur Mode and Premiere Classe. With their October editions this year, the group moved back to the Tuileries Gardens after three seasons near the Espace Eiffel Branly tents, near the Eiffel Tower. In October for the first time, Carrousel de la Mode was a stand-alone salon as well as an umbrella organization for other salons. As an exhibition, Carrousel de la Mode featured the collections of 11 young designers who were invited to show without charge in a tent provided by the French Ready-to-Wear Federation.
Exhibitors and visitors were pleased with the move, since the Tuileries Gardens are close to the bulk of the designer fashion shows at the Louvre; they are centrally located and easy to reach.
“We have signed a five-year contract with the Tuileries Gardens,” said Yves Mouclier, manager of the Carrousel de la Mode. “We moved back to the Tuileries during a difficult season [in Europe’s economy], yet it went well.”
In the world of textiles, show organizers from Germany’s Messe Frankfurt GmbH, France’s Premiere Vision and Italy’s Sitex are making news by jointly staging a new early event called Europremiere, an invitational preview show. Europremiere is to serve as a harbinger of the semiannual fashion fabric seasons. The first show will be in Nice, Jan. 20-21; the second, in Como, Italy, July 21-22, 1997, and the third in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Jan. 19-20, 1998.
“The idea [for Europremiere] was spawned by the market,” said Franco Artom, managing director of Texmanotova SpA, earlier this year on behalf of Sitex, which stages the Moda In fabric show in Milan. “We want to create a ‘club,’ not a fair, where there is open dialog.”
Robert Brochier, president of Premiere Vision, announcing Europremiere, noted that one goal of the collaboration was to better define the role of the many European trade shows serving the textile industry. As a result, the number of shows might be reduced.
Organizers of Expofil, the semiannual Paris-based yarn show, will introduce some new elements for the upcoming edition, Dec. 3-5, at Espace Eiffel Branly. Beginning this season, a young designer will be given carte blanche to create an audiovisual presentation on textile trends; for spring/summer 1998, the designer will be Veronique Leroy. Show organizers promise a snappy new look for the show’s trend presentation, with the help of exhibition designers Fabien Cagani and Laurent Matras, both of studio Delo Lindo. The new design tries to make the data more accessible.
Other improvements at Expofil are a currency exchange office and expansion of the fair’s two restaurants to accommodate 300 people, rather than 150.
The Salon International de la Lingerie, Jan. 24-27, at the Porte de Versailles, also has made some changes to accommodate visitors. For one, organizers are shortening the length of the fashion shows, which take place twice a day, from 60 to 35 minutes.

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