Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday unleashed its first day of stilleto- and swagger-filled shows with a nod to young designers coming up to fill the creative ranks.
It was the French capital’s turn to reveal its women’s 2015-2016 autumn-winter collections after the shows in New York, London and Milan.
Yet two sombre notes cast shadows across the Paris opening: the February 27 death of John Fairchild, the American chief editor of the fashion world’s bible, Women’s Wear Daily, between 1960-1997; and the death on Monday of Bettina, a star model of the 1950s.
The first day of the catwalk shows saw the first outing by brand Each x Other, founded by thirtysomething Franco-Swedish duo Ilan Delouis and Jenny Mannerheim and joined by new designer Masha Gard.
Marine, black and cream dominated their collection which drew inspiration from men’s lines in tennis stripes, tailored pants and leather.
“We wanted to show that men’s clothes can be transformed into something else. We give it an allure and elegance with femininity,” Delouis explained backstage.
The male side “is part of the code of Each x Other, it’s about the mix, the blend — our logo is an X, which is the meeting of art, fashion and music,” he added.
Previously, the brand showed its collections in the “Designers Apartment”, a showroom organised by the fashion week’s organising body, the Federation Francaise de la Couture. The space, which will be open for six days from Friday, promotes young stylists.
– Paris focus on talent –
Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, also sought to shine the spotlight on upcoming talent by visiting the Duperre School, one of the city’s premiere design institutions. The state-run establishment each year trains 500 students in fashion, textiles and graphic design.
Hidalgo said Paris’ schools were standing up to the stiff competition posed by better-funded rivals Central Saint Martins in London and Parsons in New York because the French capital managed to “conserve the artistic trade skills related to the luxury sector, such as embroidery and tapestry”.
Responding to a question about New York investing 15 million euros ($17 million) in the city’s fashion trade, she said: “If New York is investing so much in fashion today, it’s because its artistic workshops have disappeared.”
Paris, she added, had the good fortune to be home to tuition-free schools that allow young students to learn “not according to their parents’ revenues, but really by their own talent and drive”.
Hidalgo was accompanied by two graduates from the school, Bouchra Jarrar, who now has her own fashion house of the same name, and Guillaume Lemiel, designer for the brand The Kooples.
Still, Hidalgo acknowledged, “Paris was kind of slumbering a few years ago, thinking it could live off its legacy as the capital of fashion”.
Milan, London and New York have “worked very, very hard with professionals, in terms of communication, to build their fashion weeks up to a level that concerned us.
“We are now not only fighting back but also understanding what our strengths are.”