THE LONG VIEW: Didier Grumbach may have stepped away from the day-to-day running of the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à- Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, but he still has plenty to say about the Paris fashion scene.
On Wednesday night, Grumbach — who remains honorary president of the federation — regaled a crowd gathered at the French Fashion Institute with a lecture about the origins of haute couture and his own storied career in fashion, starting with his family’s clothing manufacturing company C. Mendès. Many of the anecdotes can be found in Grumbach’s book, “Histoires de la Mode,” originally published in 1993. Grumbach signed copies of an updated English translation, titled “History of International Fashion,” released last fall in the United States, United Kingdom and India.
“Paris has changed, the system has changed, everything has been transformed,” he said of the current ready-to-wear landscape. “For the system to function, the participants have to be international, production has to be international. It’s clear that we no longer can or should be 100 percent French anymore.”
Grumbach singled out the emergence of Chinese designers such as Yiqing Yin and Yang Li on the international stage. “We can’t do without China, but they can’t do without us, that much is clear,” he said. He noted that Yin, who was born in Beijing and moved to France at the age of four, would likely be granted the haute couture label next year if she requests it.