Byline: Sarah Raper
PARIS — A group of fashion’s most powerful newspaper and magazine editors are planning to send a letter to leading Milan and Paris designers asking them to help shorten fashion weeks in those cities. The letter requests that they concentrate their shows over an 11-day period, from Oct. 3 to 7 in Milan and Oct. 9 to 13 in Paris — a total of 11 days — rather than the 16 days of this season.
Editors from publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, American Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle and W and Women’s Wear Daily have all agreed to sign the letter, which is being drafted by Amy Spindler, style editor of the New York Times Magazine. “This is not a diktat, but a request to make our jobs easier,” she explained. “We are appealing to these designers as friends and as colleagues and saying we simply cannot be away from our offices and families for such a long period.”
Spindler did concede that it was tricky getting everyone to agree. “I’ve never had five paragraphs tweaked by so many editors,” she said.
The idea for the letter was triggered when Mario Boselli, president of Italy’s National Chamber of Fashion, said last month that he was planning to stretch the Milan shows out to 12 days. The group is particularly concerned about the organizers’ practice of scheduling major designers’ shows at the beginning and end of the week to make sure editors check into town for a longer stay, and perhaps take in a smaller show or two. International editors came up with an informal list of 35 to 40 houses that were the most important and decided to write directly to the designers there. “We asked them, ‘Who do you have to see, and who would you get on a plane to see if they showed a day early?”‘ Spindler explained.
“This rough list — which we do not intend to make public — includes both young creative people and big commercial houses,” she said, adding that the editors calculated that, ideally, three major designers would show each day for five days in Milan and four would show each day in Paris with one day in between for travel. “That would leave room for nine additional slots each day,” the letter reads. “In other words, there will still be 90 slots for new or lesser-known names. That’s a lot of fashion.”
In Paris, Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale, which organizes fashion week, said on Thursday that he had already trimmed the Paris schedule from eight days last season to seven. “I really don’t think we can cut it anymore,” he added, noting that there were 180 shows in Paris this season.
“I have not seen the letter, but I would be very interested to consider the suggestions,” Grumbach continued. ”However, we cannot organize Paris fashion week around the needs of a small group of Americans, and it would be very wrong to divide the industry into advertising haves and have-nots.” And he challenged those who signed: “I wonder who will have the courage to give me the list of the most important shows?”
Grumbach said that he thought the solution was to schedule several shows at the same time and let journalists and the houses choose. He said there were a total of 25 shows on and off the calendar on Tuesday. “We have 2,000 journalists here this week. Obviously, they cannot all go to the same shows, and in fact, they do not even want to go to the same shows,” he argued. Grumbach said eight new designers would be added to the Paris schedule for next season. “We know we cannot expand the week; our only choice is to double up.”