AMERICANS NOT CHANGING PLANS
Byline: Miles Socha / Robert Murphy
PARIS — When news spread Sunday night that the U.S. and Britain had commenced a bombing campaign in Afghanistan, editors and retailers were taking their seats at the Dries Van Noten show.
The moment the show ended, hordes of them rushed to the exits before the models could finish their finale. An industry reeling from the after-effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America just endured another shock.
On Monday, most attendees affirmed their resolve to stay in Paris and finish fashion week. However, concern is growing about lax security at the shows.
“We’re all planning to stick with our original schedule,” said Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue. “I’m going back to New York Wednesday as I had always planned and I’m previewing collections I’ll miss seeing on the runway. But I think everyone else on the team is going back Friday.”
“There’s no reason to panic,” Domenico De Sole, chief executive officer of Gucci Group said as he greeted celebrities, editors and buyers filing into the Stella McCartney show.
The sentiment was repeated again and again by Americans who braved the trip to Europe.
“As of now, our plans have not changed,” said Ingrid Sischy, editor in chief of Interview magazine. “After all, we’re in a country whose citizens are our allies. We’re all in this together.”
Didier Grumbach, president of France’s governing body of fashion, the Chambre Syndicale, assured that the shows would go on as planned, but that security would be beefed up further.
“Security guards have been instructed to ask for identity cards corresponding to the name on the invitation for all shows at the Carrousel du Louvre,” Grumbach said. “As for small shows, similar measures are not necessary because everyone knows each other and can closely monitor attendance. But for large shows not at the Carrousel, identity checks should also take place.”
However, most editors arriving for shows at the Louvre on Monday afternoon were not asked to produce identity cards.
That was cause for alarm for Amy Spindler, style editor of the New York Times Magazine, who walked out of the Issey Miyake show and voiced her alarm to Grumbach when attendants declined to ask for ID.
“I’m happy to stay here as long as they’re looking out for us,” Spindler said. “I’m not comfortable being there without security. Every invitation says they’re going to check for ID and none of them have. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that everyone in the room should be an industry professional. For one season, we shouldn’t have groupies.”
Christophe Girard, director of fashion strategy for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, vowed to have “full security” and identity checks at its shows later this week, which include Celine, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. “ID checks are a good practice. It’s normal during this very tense period,” he said. “It’s the best so people will feel comfortable.”
But the retaliatory strikes put everyone on edge and anti-war demonstrations around Place de la Concorde Monday evening caused traffic chaos and delayed shows for up to an hour.
In the wake of the retaliatory strikes, the U.S. has warned its citizens abroad to keep a low profile, monitor local news, maintain contact with a nearby embassy or consulate and limit their movements.
Not everyone was ruffled, however.
Carrying a red leather tote bag decorated with an American flag, Elle’s publication director, Gilles Bensimon, said: “I feel great. I have no problem being here. If you are a firefighter, you have a reason to be afraid. If you are in fashion+”
Tyler Brule, Wallpaper’s editorial director, said he has a full compliment of staff in Paris — about seven editors — and all would remain here for the duration.
“It’s a little hard to sit and watch a fashion show and listen to great music, but we have to keep doing our jobs,” said Elizabeth Saltzman, fashion director of Vanity Fair. “Right now, life is just day by day.”