5 and ‘a Half’ Things We’re Looking Forward to at Paris Fashion Week
Item 4.5 might be the hardest to accomplish.
When I think of my last trip to Paris, I think of hunger. Literally. Between jet lag, a mild bug I’d picked up in transit, and too many baguettes, I was never with the right plate of food at the right time. What saved me was stumbling upon a weigh-it-yourself Chinese buffet where I ordered a large container of steamed garlic broccoli and nothing else. So this time I’m looking to re-do the City of Light and lose the hangry memories. Of course it’s Paris Fashion Week and I’ll be stressed out, while searching for places to charge my phone, or getting lost on the subway. But if all goes according to plan, I will make a pit stop on Rue des roisiers for its famous falafel and veggie fare. I’ve learned my lesson. Easy on the steak frites, and bread, go for green. Until then, let’s talk about what I’m looking forward to seeing at Paris Fashion Week.
1. The Grand Palais in Paris.
It’s almost embarrassing the access Fashion Week affords a stranger like me. The shows take you into spectacular venues that may or may not be open to the public. One of my favourite fashion week memories is from Simone Rochas’s Fall 2017 show at London’s Lancaster House where scenes from The Crown have been filmed. In Paris, The Grand Palais was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, but to me, it is a movie set for being so closely linked with Chanel. Since 2005, The Grand Palais has been the setting for remarkable decors created by the Artistic Director Karl Lagerfeld for his Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture shows. Inside the Palais, fashion observers have seen rocket ships, protest scenes and even an Eiffel Tower (above from July 2017). Earlier this year Chanel announced it would be the exclusive renovation sponsor of The Grand Palais and contribute 25 million euros (close to $40 million Canadian) to a generational project that will see completion in 2023. These people think about the future!
2. See Now Buy Now Via H&M Studio
Disruption is a buzzword that continues to reverberate across the fashion industry, in particular when “See Now, Buy Now,” merges with Fashion Weeks. Traditionally fashion week was about the near future, not the now. But “See Now Buy Now” seemingly appeals to a digitally driven need for instant gratification, and even if Alexa Chung and Burberry have made a run at it, who better than H&M to make it work. Recent controversy has overshadowed the brand’s lesser known offerings like the research and development driven Conscious Exclusive Collection, and H&M Studio which shows in Paris at Musee des Arts Decoratifs (MAD) on February 28. All runway pieces will be available online after the show, and in select stores the next day, March 1. H&M Studio Spring 18 is influenced by Japan’s “quiet grace,” and appears shortly before MAD’s major exhibition on Japan and Western Culture. “It’s wonderful timing that we have the opportunity to show H&M studio in a place that will later host a major exhibition about Japan, which greatly influenced our spring 2018 collection,” said H&M’s Design Director Pernilla Wohlfahrt. H&M Studio price points are higher than in-store (leather coated pants for winter 18 cost about $349) so we’re not talking designer pricing here, so it will be interesting to see the calibre of this collection in the fashion capital.
3. Now that Celine has met Hedi
Over dinner recently with other fashion observers the topic turned to Hedi Slimane‘s hiring at Celine. Editors in particular love Phoebe Philo. “He looks miserable,” said one person of Slimane’s demeanour. “I wonder if she’s waiting for Karl to retire,” said another, suggesting that Philo is taking a well-deserved sabbatical in case the top job at Chanel should open up. Philo presented her last Celine collection officially in September, so I’m curious to see how much of her DNA remains at this week’s show in Paris. Slimane is on board as of this month, and Philo’s right hand, Michael Rider has just departed Celine for a position with Ralph Lauren. These must be tumultuous times for those inside the company, and after such a storied run, it must be heartbreaking! Watch this to see what remains and what will be lost.
4. Americans in Paris
In addition to seeing American designers like Virgil Abloh (Off-White) and Joseph Altuzarra (Altuzarra) work the runway, I’m keen to see the CFDA’s 6th Annual “Americans in Paris” initiative at Le 8 Valois from March 1 to 3rd, featuring designers like Nonoo, Public School and Elder Statesman. As evidenced at the Designer Showroom during Toronto Fashion Week in early February, these are the spaces to discover new and dependable designers. Which makes me wonder how nice would it to be to see “Canadians in Paris” en par with the TFI, City of Toronto and Canadian High Commission co-produced, Canadian Design Showcase at London Fashion Week earlier this month. So we’ll make a point of seeing Toronto-raised, London-based Andrew Majtenyi (shown above) when he presents his “Lady Hester Stanhope” collection at the Talent to Trend Showroom in Paris March 4 through 8.
4.5. As mentioned in the intro, remember to eat.
5. Au revoir Bruno
Catherine Deneuve might have made Roger Vivier‘s buckle shoe famous but in recent times, Creative Director Bruno Frisoni brought the storied name to a whole new generation when he began working with ingenues like Jeanne Damas and Ana Girardot. After 16 years with Roger Vivier, Frisoni will show his last collection on February 27th. “I had a lot of fun designing Couture accessories collections for Vivier,” said Frisoni when asked by FASHION for a career highlight with the brand. “But when I stopped doing Couture, I decided to go for limited edition capsule collections instead. I also enjoyed experimenting with material such as wood, plexi, and natural cord. A modern interpretation of luxury.” The last time we talked with Frisoni was when he was in Toronto for a Roger Vivier retrospective at the Bata Shoe Museum where the late great Sonja Bata even introduced him. Bonne chance, Bruno!