Paris starts countdown to Hedi Slimane
Expect a busy season of activity in Paris fashion week, which debuted Monday with a major double header and climaxes on its final day, Tuesday, October 2 with another mega double bill.
In a novel piece of scheduling, the season opened Monday afternoon with Christian Dior - at the Longchamp racetrack for a change of scene - in a day of just three shows, including France’s most successful young runway designer Jacquemus, before building to a very keenly anticipated evening event, Gucci in The Palace, the shabby 9th arrondissement theatre that is Paris’ equivalent of Studio 54.
The season ends with a crowded Tuesday starring the world’s two most valuable luxury brands - Chanel and Louis Vuitton bookending the day.
However, the most anticipated runway show of the entire international calendar will be the debut at Celine on the evening of Friday, 28th of Hedi Slimane, the most influential and commercially successful French designer of this century.
In a sense this will mark Slimane’s fourth debut in Paris. In 2012, he stunned the entire industry with an all-black Los Angeles rocker interpretation of Yves Saint Laurent, igniting a four-year-run at the helm of that house that saw revenues triple to near one billion euros. Twelve years before, he staged an epic debut at Dior Homme, one attended by the great Saint Laurent himself. And back in 1996 he he presented a polished collection to just a few editors in his first significant design job, YSL Men. Hands up who attended that show?
Editors, influencers and glitterati have been deciphering the tea leaves for weeks now on what Hedi might pull out of his design hat. So far, a black and white ad campaign, a change in name - he dropped the accent on the e in Céline - and a shot of Lady Gaga with an angular black bag has been all there is to go on. Expect the unexpected, meaning the end to his predecessor Phoebe Philo’s gallery-owner grandiosity.
Paris fashion will also always be a fete. This season, the much loved French rocker designer Isabel Marant is planning a big bash with L’Oréal; the house of Karl Lagerfeld will toast its new brand ambassador Kaia Gerber; and Ralph Lauren will celebrate his 50th anniversary with a party in his St Germain flagship jointly hosted with French Vanity Fair’s Virginie Mouzat. Supima Design Lab 2018 will also take place in the Hotel de Tallyrand, aptly for Supima, America’s cashmere of cotton.
Culturally, the Yves Saint Laurent museum will open an expo on the great designer’s Dream of Asia. Virgil Abloh, fashion’s greatest multi-tasker, will unveil his linkup with Ikea - entitled Still Loading.
The City Of Light will also welcome back on the schedule four other noted brands. Notably Courrèges, with a new designer Yolanda Zobel, marking the first catwalk show by the brand that invented futurism in fashion since its acquisition by Artémis, the Pinault family holding that controls luxury’s second largest empire, Kering. Cedric Charlier will also come to the French catwalk, though he has been busy with his night job in Italy, overseeing Sportmax. And there will surely be a large demand for invitations to see Marques’ Almeida, the Portuguese duo and former LVMH winners who have departed from London to mark their Paris debut in an off-calendar show.
All told, there are some 80 shows on the official calendar of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body. The final stage of the four-week international catwalk season that began with Tom Ford in New York on September 5. And the most important season anywhere as the global brands and avant-garde remind the world that when it comes to fashion, no city is more important than Paris.
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