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Ford YSL swan song at Paris ready-to-wear week

PARIS, Feb 27 (AFP) – The world’s top designers will spark a fashion frenzy when Paris ready-to-wear week starts Monday, marked by Tom Ford’s swan song at Yves Saint Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier’s much-anticipated debut at Hermes.

Editors, buyers and fashion victims will feast their eyes on more than 100 shows in the French capital, capping a month of presentations for autumn-winter 2004-05 that have already taken New York, London and Milan by storm.

This season will be especially eventful, with other comings (Antonio Marras at Kenzo), goings (Michael Kors at Celine and Julien Macdonald at Givenchy) and comebacks (Christian Lacroix to the ready-to-wear catwalk).

The tried-and-true classic fashion houses like Christian Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro will be front and center, as will young guns with international clout like Britain’s Alexander McQueen and Austria’s Helmut Lang.

For Didier Grumbach, the president of the French fashion federation, one thing is certain: “The emotion and the excitement are in Paris.”

“London is no longer all that it once was, New York is not interesting in terms of creativity and Milan only has two shows from international labels a day, while in Paris, we have 10 a day,” Grumbach told AFP.

“We need to add a day to our calendar and Milan needs to cut its schedule by a day next season,” he said, explaining that he wanted to offer “more comfort” to some 1,000 buyers and 1,600 journalists from around the world struggling to survive marathon days of shows.

Grumbach said he was determined to fight against the “particularly damaging pressure applied by certain American magazines” – without naming names – “who want to group all the top shows into a few days.”

“When I see the journalists and buyers running around to see all the shows, while there are so few in other cities, I realize that Paris is where it’s at.

Some buyers come here and don’t even go to Milan,” he said.

Indeed, Paris is the international crossroads for the fashion set, with a diverse group of foreign designers displaying their collections, either under their own name or for a French house.

Britain has practically invaded the Paris fashion scene thanks to McQueen, John Galliano (Dior and his own label), Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Phoebe Philo at Chloe, and Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro at Cacharel.

Belgium has also made its mark, with Dries van Noten, Martin Margiela, Jean-Paul Knott, Ann Demeulemeester and Olivier Theyskens for Rochas – among others – displaying their collections here.

Among the other countries represented are Italy (Valentino), Japan (Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake), The Netherlands (Viktor and Rolf), Austria (Lang), Australia (Collette Dinnigan) and the United States (Rick Owens and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton).

Grumbach is also leading a charge to protect designers from seeing their creations slightly altered and quickly put on the shelves of mass-market chain stores.

Last month, he suggested that the current schedule of unveiling winter collections in March and summer collections in October was damaging to the top houses as it only gave stores more time to copy their designs.

“All the collections shown in Paris quickly find their way into the archives of mass textile manufacturers. We can’t avoid it but we should try not to encourage it,” Grumbach said.

He was likely referring to Yamamoto’s decision to show his winter ready-to-wear collection for the following year in January, during the spring-summer couture week and two months ahead of other designers.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to unveil designs as late as possible. We work in an industry that relies on innovation. If we encourage those who want to push their show dates ahead, we’ll only succeed in penalizing our profession even more. And it’s already dying as a result of being copied,” Grumbach said.


                                                              Subject: France news