NEW YORK — For the European press, it’s not the merch, it’s the models.
For most visiting journalists, model mania has clearly overshadowed all that retro and glamour in this week’s New York collections.
The clothes, meanwhile, have been getting lots of attention from the local media, including trend reports on several nightly TV news shows. The New York tabloids, however, are right in step with the Europeans, with front-page coverage of Carré and Mickey, price-fixing and model fees.
The Italian and British press have picked up on some of the top fashion stories, while the French press, as it did last season, has virtually ignored the entire scene.
As of Thursday, no Paris newspaper, including Le Figaro, Libération and Le Monde, had written a word on the New York collections.
In the Italian press, however, Carla, Linda, Naomi, Isabella and Kate are getting most of the ink.
Last week, Anna Guaita, a correspondent for Il Messaggero, led off with a story headlined: “The American designers against the models: You’re too fat!” The article claims Christy Turlington withdrew from the shows amid a “hysterical crisis,” claiming her waistline had swelled from 45 centimeters (17.5 inches) to 55 centimeters (21.5 inches).
Guaiti’s article also mentioned Claudia Schiffer, “who had been showing her slightly more provocative curves around Rome the past few days,” and Elle Macpherson, who put on five pounds for her role in “Sirens” and decided it wasn’t so bad after all.
“Even the malnourished Kate Moss is sporting a few more pounds these days,” Guaita wrote.
In an interview with Laura Dubini, fashion correspondent for Corriere della Sera, on Wednesday, Isabella Rossellini discussed the disappearance of the traditional dividing line between models and actresses.
“What do the models and the actresses have in common?” Dubini asked.
“First and foremost, body language,” Rossellini answered. “On the set as on the runway, one communicates with gestures and glances. There isn’t much of a difference being in front of the movie camera and in front of photographers’ flashes.”
The FTC investigation into whether New York designers tried to fix models fees also got some coverage, but major headlines went to models’ protests about efforts by the U.S. designers to cut their paychecks.
“They think we get paid too much? Well it’s nothing compared to what we do for them,” complained Carla Bruni in Thursday’s Corriere della Sera. “And I don’t see why they [the American designers] have to pay less, the Italians make more beautiful clothes,” she was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday, Il Messaggero dedicated an entire page to The New Yorker fashion issue, with a sour-grapes attitude about the space given to Italian designers.
“Fashion, America snubs us: only Made in USA counts,” said the headline, while the lead said:
“For the Italians, universally known as masters, there were only a few pages.
“A magazine that is quintessential snobbism, the literary heart of the United States, a weekly that never, ever, paid the least bit of attention to fashion, The New Yorker has made itself into a supporter of the Yankees of fashion,” wrote fashion correspondent Paola Pisa.
While some British reviews of the New York shows explored the themes of glamour and retro, and has welcoming words for a new generation of American designers, there was also plenty of tabloid T&A.
Most of the British reporting during the week was done by the Daily Express, the Sun and the Evening Standard, which featured gossip and photos of breast-baring models as much as they did fashion. The Sun ran photos of the almost-topless models at Todd Oldham’s show.

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