Another major American designer is defecting for Paris. Joseph Altuzarra revealed plans to take his spring 2018 show to the City of Light as is Thom Browne. Proenza Schouler and Rodarte also moved their shows to Paris to align with the couture schedule.
“I was born and raised in Paris and the city holds a very deep personal significance for me,” Altuzarra said in a statement noting that showing in Paris is in the interest of boosting international growth. “This has been a dream of mine since the very beginning and now the time feels right. I am honored to be invited by La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode to show in my hometown of Paris.”
Steven Kolb, president and chief executive officer of the CFDA said Altuzarra and his ceo Karis Durmer had discussed their plans with the CFDA prior to the announcement. “It’s really a business decision on Joseph’s part and personal decision with Paris being his hometown. I believe I can say that with great confidence.”
It’s Kolb’s professional duty to be an advocate for American fashion and New York Fashion Week. He noted that Altuzarra was a brand incubated in New York by the CFDA and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, as were Rodarte, Thom Browne and Proenza Schouler. “When a designer who started a business in New York and grew it to the level of success that they can take their show to Paris, there’s a real pride in that,” he said. “New York is still a very viable city and strong fashion week. We’re opening with Tom Ford and closing with Marc Jacobs with Calvin Klein among others in between.”
But there’s no denying that four of New York’s top acts moving their show to Paris within two seasons is more than coincidence. Asked what was driving it, besides increasing international presence, Kolb said, “The CFDA will take some credit for that. We did the Boston Consulting Group study and it said, we’re in a time of change and people should try different things, and people are doing that.”
The reality is New York is open for business,” said Kolb. “If you take the continent of Europe and plop it onto the map of the United Sates and look at the retail and consumer base, it’s quintessentially American in terms of volume. The opportunity exists on the flip side for European brands that want to grow internationally to do so in New York.”
Altuzarra launched his line for spring 2008. With the support of influential fashion figures such as Carine Roitfeld, he quickly gained notice for his sleek tailoring and sultry, French-influenced sophistication, winning the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award in 2014.
In 2013 Kering took a minority stake in the company said to be 40 percent. “There was this need for financial support, but there was also a need for infrastructure and expertise and experience, especially in the market sector that we’re in, which is luxury,” Altuzarra told WWD in an interview at the time. “I really felt that I couldn’t just do financial support. I really needed a partner who would be able to provide expertise of the business that we’re in and also be able to find the synergies that would help us.”
Accessories were a priority — shoes launched for resort 2015, with a successful handbag collection following for fall 2015. The brand is sold at 100 retailers globally.
Altuzarra grew up in Paris. His father is French and his mother is Chinese-American. He attended a traditional French lycée before moving to Pennsylvania to attend Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts school, where he graduated in 2004 with a degree in art history. At that point, his fashion experience was limited to working in a costume shop during college. He had no formal design training, and fashion didn’t become a serious career prospect until Altuzarra moved to New York. An internship at Marc Jacobs led to a freelance design position at Proenza Schouler, where Altuzarra crossed paths with patternmaker Nicolas Caito, for whom he apprenticed back in Paris. An assistant’s job with Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy followed.