PARIS PREPS FOR FALL

Byline: Robert Murphy

PARIS — This year marks a quiet evolution in Paris’s upcoming trade show season, as organizers move to fine-tune their already thriving showcases.
Most organizers said recent feedback from visitors had been positive, leading them to believe they don’t need to revolutionize their events. Still, as global competition stiffens, organizers agreed the main challenge was to provide visitors with unparalleled service.
“We have a product that works and is respected by the industry,” said Gerard Roudine, director of the Pret-a-Porter apparel show at the Porte de Versailles, which runs Sept. 8-11. “So instead of changing the format, we’re concentrating efforts on honing our customer service.”
Roudine said Pret-a-Porter would make life easier for visitors by integrating more rest areas and making the sprawling show simpler to navigate, providing clear signs and maps. The Paris Capital de la Mode service-oriented program that was jointly launched last year by all the Paris shows will continue to provide transportation between fairs, and to and from airports and train stations.
Shows are concentrating on dispensing more trend information to buyers. For example, at Who’s Next, the junior apparel and accessories show at the Porte de Versailles, which runs concurrently with Pret-a-Porter, organizers Xavier Clergerie and Bertrand Foache will include a trend area that incorporates not only fashion but furniture design, cosmetics and new music.
“Our intent is to communicate a lifestyle that isn’t directly part of fashion, but at the same time has concrete links to the fashion world,” said Clergerie, adding that the space allocated for the trend forum would include food and wine tasting. “Fashion is now a universe that is touched by and touches many domains.”
Clergerie said Who’s Next would continue to focus on new creative fashion talent by expanding its Fresh section, dedicated to young designers. The exact number of exhibitors was not yet available, but last year 50 designers were featured in the category.
“We started as a streetwear forum, but now young fashion is becoming more elegant and refined,” he said. “Our show will reflect that trend.”
Clergerie and Foache, who recently took control of the SHEM men’s show, have joined with the concurrent Glissexpo activewear show, the Midec shoe fair, SHEM and the Salon Planete children’s fair, all at the Porte de Versailles, to offer a common pass for the five events. It will sell for about $25.
At the Premiere Classe accessories exhibition, set for Oct. 13-16, space will be cleared to enlarge pathways and create new rest areas. In the last few seasons, the show, held in cramped tents in the Tuileries Gardens, has been as busy as a Moroccan souk, with buyers uncomfortably rubbing shoulders and vying for entrance into exhibitors’ tiny stands.
Premiere Classe, which Clergerie and Foache run, also operates a smaller accessories show concurrent with the Pret-a-Porter, Sept. 8-11, at the Porte de Versailles.
At Paris sur Mode, to be held in the Tuileries Garden tents, Oct. 13-16, Clergerie and Foache have turned over control to Muriel Guyot, who intends to infuse the show with new energy.
“It’s a show that works, but I want to give it a new fresh touch,” said Guyot.
Guyot also presides over the Atmosphere shows, which are held within the Pret in September, and at the Hotel St. James and the Tuileries Gardens, Oct. 13-15.
Both Atmosphere events will showcase about 100 young designers.
“They won’t necessarily be the same designers in both shows,” said Guyot. “I’m going to bring in new young designer talent that hasn’t previously shown in Paris.”
At the upcoming session of Bijorcha at the Porte de Versailles, Sept. 8-11, the jewelry show will be split into two separate side-by-side events.
The first, the twice-a-year Eclat de Mode, will feature trendy costume jewelry. The sister show, Montres et Bijoux, which is now held only once a year, will showcase watches and upscale jewelry. Each show will have a separate entrances, and visitors will have the choice between buying a single or dual pass.
Although it was too early to reveal the list of new services that will be incorporated in the upcoming Premiere Vision fabric showcase, running Oct. 5-8 just west of Paris at Villepinte, Helene Pichenot, communications director, said this season fabrics for fall-winter 2001-2002 would be marked by continuity.
She added, however, that the main trend would be “contradicting elegance.”
“We will see fabrics with a natural hand that are high performance, or rough fabrics, like denim, mixed with silk,” she explained.
Philippe Pasquet, Expofil secretary general, said the yarn fair, open June 6-8 at the Espace Eiffel-Branly on the Quai Branly near the Eiffel Tower, would for the first time charge admission. The price at the door for the three-day show will be about $18. Preregistered admission will be about $13.
“We wanted to make the show more exclusive,” said Pasquet commenting on the decision to charge an entrance fee. “This way, we attract more professionals and less curiosity seekers.”
Pasquet said Expofil was gearing up for its move next June to Villepinte, where Premiere Vision is held. Early next year, the Eiffel-Branly exhibit hall, the show’s current home, will be leveled to make room for a primitive arts museum, which is a keynote on the cultural agenda of President Jacques Chirac.
“Every year, Expofil keeps growing,” said Pasquet.
For the June session, there will be about 220 exhibitors, including 13 newcomers, compared with 192 last year. Expofil is beefing up its list of services. Apart from a fashion forum, which this year will showcase the designs of Atsuro Tayama, the fair will invite a list of VIPs to a private visit in the Galleria museum, followed by cocktails.
Muriel Gamboa, who organizes the small directional show Tranoi at the Paris Bourse, running Oct. 12-15, said her efforts would continue to focus on providing the most innovative fashion on the trade show circuit here.
“I’m about quality, not quantity,” said Gamboa.
This year, however, due to new demand from buyers, Gamboa will expand her show, annexing the Espace Cardin, near the Place de la Concorde. She said there would be about 30 to 40 exhibitors in the new space and that Tranoi would provide bus service between the two locales, which are about 15 minutes apart.
“Over the last few seasons, I’ve had no space to accept any new talent,” said Gamboa. “And since our space at the Bourse is limited, that’s why we moved to incorporate the Espace Cardin.”
Espace Carole de Bona, another small directional show scheduled to run Oct. 12-16 at 60 Rue Richelieu on the Right Bank, will put the accent on innovative fashion.
“I’m always interested in bringing together the most creative young talent working today,” said de Bona, adding that she planned to have about 27 exhibitors, including Isabelle Marant and Jerome Dreyfuss.
Workshop, run by Hortensia de Hutten Oct. 11-15 at the Cercle Republicain on the Avenue de l’Opera, is another small Paris show. De Hutten said this season she expected to feature about 50 designers.
“Our particularity is that we feature designers with strong personal vision,” de Hutten explained. “Paris is full of creativity, so you have to find a new take on fashion.”
Thanks to recent financing, de Hutten will make her debut in New York Sept. 25-28. The New York Workshop show is scheduled to be held at The Space, 425 West 15th Street.