PARIS — The menu of trade shows in Paris this week tested the mettle of international buyers, and results appeared mixed.
Eight events, more dispersed than usual, vied for retailers’ attention as added attractions to the centerpiece — the fall designer ready-to-wear runway shows.
Traffic bustled at some spots but was rated disappointing at others. Some exhibitors felt the weakened value of the dollar against the franc curbed attendance by U.S. retailers or lessened their interest in buying. However, buyers from major stores — including Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue — were seen shopping the shows.
The trade show anchoring the week was the four events grouped under the Carrousel de la Mode banner: Atmosphere; Groupe des Halles; Premiere Classe, and Paris sur Mode. The four comprised roughly 350 exhibitors. The four-day stand, which ended Monday, was held for the first time at the Quai Branly, near the Eiffel Tower.
In February, France’s Ministry of Culture announced it was booting the trade shows out of the Tuileries gardens, where they had been held.
The Tuileries is a three-minute walk from Carrousel du Louvre, the underground fashion center where the designer shows are staged. The new site is about two miles away, which means buyers can’t run over to Carrousel between shows.
Exhibitors complained that the relatively late announcement of the location change and the distance of the new site from Carrousel, hindered attendance at the show. Still, many buyers and exhibitors praised the spacious, easier working atmosphere of the new site in contrast with the long, crowded, tunnel-like tents of the Tuileries. They also liked the fact that Premiere Classe, the accessories show, was in the middle of various rtw sections. Buyers who had not planned to shop for fashion tended to wander over once they had shopped for accessories.
Among new U.S. exhibitors was Adrienne Vittadini, showing at Paris Sur Mode.
“Last year we invited buyers to our new Paris showroom, but they told us, ‘If you’re not on the way, we don’t have time,”‘ said Constance Meaudre, Vittadini’s sales director for France, explaining the decision for a booth at the show. Vittadini was one of more than a dozen new resources at Paris Sur Mode.
Another newcomer was Greensleeves, a two-year-old line based in Cambridgeshire, U.K. Formerly specializing in home furnishings, the company has branched out into rtw. It features romantically draped full-length evening dresses made in natural fabrics such as cotton and silk.
“It’s not about mainstream fashion,” said designer Sheila Scholes, showing a dress with a deep green draped bodice layered over a white cotton split skirt. “I think Fifties glamour is part of fashion, but this is at the other extreme.”
At Atmosphere, there were several key fabric trends:
The continuing appeal of mohair, used for coats and jackets by the group of five Japanese designers showing under the name of Scramble, and by Paris-based design duo France Petrovitch and Eva Robinson.
Chic “country” look tweeds, as shown in suits by Samy Chalon, also of Paris.
Quilted nylon fabrics giving a ski look to casualwear.
Lots of shiny satins.
Over at the Bourse du Commerce, Tranoi’s 56 exhibitors benefited from their proximity to the Carrousel du Louvre. That, coupled with the Tranoi’s well-known creativity, brought strong attendance from international buyers. The big story was color, along with shine and sheer, complimented by a wide variety of fake fur trimmings.
Orange was a prominent color. London-based Whitaker Malem showed an orange molded leather vest, laced up the sides, and leather or vinyl pinstriped skirt suits.
At Kevin, from Milan, designer Giovanni Castelli used bold pink for open-weave mohair cropped knits.
Parisian Koji Tatsuno’s DPGC line was another testament to color — from vermilion or fluorescent-green nylon dresses and jackets to a purple velvet trenchcoat. Shearling jackets were dyed bright colors at Whistles and Owen Gaster, both from London. Luscious velvets and shiny satin came in gem tones of amethyst, turquoise and amber for jackets and cocktail dresses at Myrene de Premonville, London-based Kuffs & Kollars and at Belgian resource Kyuso.
The Workshop show, in its third season, included 35 young designers. It was held in what was once a restaurant in the Samaritaine department store, and drew a large group of Japanese buyers. Milu, from Chicago, showing its fourth collection, was at Workshop for the first time. It showed a line inspired by early 20th-century working-class clothes. One of Milu’s bestsellers, especially among Japanese buyers, was a white boiled wool, double-breasted short fitted jacket.
Milu’s sales agent is Barbara Kramer Collections, New York, which also represented New York-based Amy Chan at the show. Kramer also just became U.S. agent for Antwerp designer Sarah Corynen who, at her third Workshop, showed brightly colored separates inspired by flight attendant uniforms.
Rounding out the shows were L’Internationale Parisienne, coordinated by Carole de Bona, and Rencontres Montaigne. L’Internationale had seven avant-garde designers — including Agathe Gonnet, Jerome L’Huillier and Christophe Lemaire — presenting their collections in a space on rue St. Honore, near the Carrousel du Louvre.
“The reason we created this association is because we feel we need something apart for the avant-garde designers who often get lost in larger salons,” said de Bona.
Rencontres Montaigne, on the Avenue Montaigne, assembled 20 French companies, including David Molho and HAlAne Gainville.
“This is our second season, and we feel it is more practical to show as a group rather than to be spread out in different hotels as we were in the past,” said David Molho.