PARIS — Like Goldilocks evaluating the three bears’ beds, the fashion pack had mixed reviews of Paris’s concentrated fashion week. Some found it just right, but many found it too hard to see so many shows in so little time.
“It’s been a nightmare. I don’t believe I’ve ever been so tired in all my life,” said Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, as she clicked away on her laptop front row at Guy Laroche Wednesday. “And I found myself having to skip shows in order to write. There is no time for anything. The week was too concentrated for me.”
In the run-up to Paris fashion week, which ends Friday, Menkes called the condensed schedule “inhumane” and expressed concern that up-and-coming designers would be overshadowed by luxury giants. She was pitted against American Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and others who have lobbied hard for, and got, Paris to start major shows one day after Milan and have them end within six days.
“I thought it worked really well,” said Wintour on Tuesday at Chanel. “I actually think on Sunday there weren’t enough major shows. I think we could make it a day shorter.”
Amy Spindler, style editor of the New York Times Magazine, said she was pleased with the condensed schedule and also thought it could be tightened. “We saw a lot in six days. I think Sunday was a little light, but other than that, it really worked,” she said. “I don’t feel I missed out on seeing young designers. It was peak to peak to peak rather than waiting in the valley for something to happen.”
But many deemed the week excessively grueling.
“New York and Italy are too long and Paris is too short,” said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s. “There is too much talent, excitement and news to condense the Paris season like this.” Maria Luisa Poumaillou, owner of Maria Luisa boutiques in Paris, called the condensed schedule “a catastrophe,” adding, “I have missed a lot of shows of designers I carry, like Lutz and Gaspard [Yurkievich]. You can’t just think about the big groups. You can’t just crush young talent out of the schedule. They are important for fashion’s continued health.”
Cathy Horyn, fashion critic at The New York Times, said she would be against compressing the week further. “We need a little breathing room, maybe an extra day. I felt like everyone was racing towards an arbitrary finish line,” she said.
Robin Givahn, fashion editor of the Washington Post, said she missed several major shows, including Emanuel Ungaro and Lagerfeld Gallery, because the packed schedule gave her little time to file her stories.
Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, which organizes the shows, suggested next season may need to be extended. “The density of shows on certain days was excessive. It cannot go on at this rate,” he said. “There were 13 shows on Tuesday and it is a bit inhumane. I see all the shows and I can tell you 11 in one day can be organized, but above that is impossible. I think we need more time.”
Menkes allowed that the packed schedule made for an exciting season, calling the Paris week a “big bang.” But surveying daily newspaper coverage so far, she said, “I don’t know if some of the smaller designers will get covered. Most newspapers are only interested in big brands.”
Grumbach said he won’t begin plotting his strategy for October’s ready-to-wear schedule for a few weeks, although he predicted more foreign designers will be clamoring to show in Paris next season.But voicing a unanimous compliment, Wintour praised the Chambre for ensuring the majority of designers used a half dozen neighboring runway venues in central Paris. These included the Louvre, the Petit Palais and a tented structure at Trocodero.

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