Fashion thumbs nose at crisis at Paris men's shows

PARIS, June 25, 2009 (AFP) -The male fashion spotlight shifts from Milan to Paris on Thursday 25 June with more shows planned than ever before as the world of style doggedly thumbs its nose at the economic crisis.


A Yohji Yamamoto creation in Paris for the spring-summer 2009 show. The designer elected to hold a showroom presentation this year.

Paris's five-day whirl of 2010 spring/summer men's fashion has scheduled 49 catwalk presentations -- against 46 in January -- including half a dozen newcomers to the French scene.

Falling victim to economic uncertainty, however, is Japan's Yohji Yamamoto. For the first time in almost two decades, he is cancelling the house's catwalk show to opt instead for the cheaper solution of a showroom presentation, a method favoured by Yves Saint Laurent.

"This is the first time we have not presented a men's show," a spokeswoman told AFP. "This is due to the economic situation and especially to the fact that we opened a number of boutiques in the last seasons."

Also absent because of a lack of cash is Belgian designer Veronique Branquinho whose firm went into administration several weeks ago.

While the world of fashion tackles the times with bravado, there is little question that the economic doldrums are fraying the seams of top-end tailoring, with even the big names trimming down the excess.

"Before the crisis we'd send out 45 to 50 different outfits at each catwalk show. Last season we cut back to 42, this time around there'll only be 32 designs on the catwalk," said Ungaro designer Franck Boclet.

Male models, added Patricia Cadiou-Diehl, who heads one of the big men's agencies Bananas Mambo, were being offered rates 25 to 30 percent lower this season. "If the trend continues of less outfits and less money, soon there'll be no Men's Fashion Week," she told AFP.

Among the new names on the Paris catwalks for this round of the twice-yearly shows are US designer Tim Hamilton, recently honoured by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, South Korea's Song Zio and Khalid Al Qasimi from the United Arab Emirates.

Kicking off the shows for the planeloads of fashion buyers, spotters and critics flying in from Milan and elsewhere Thursday 25 June are Germany's Hugo Boss along with French labels Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier and Ungaro.

Thierry Mugler, Givenchy and Galliano are the biggest names showing on Friday 26 June, followed Saturday 27 June by Kenzo and Hermes, and on Sunday 28 June by Lanvin, Dior and Paul Smith. Winding up on Monday 29 June is Smalto.

By Claire Rosemberg

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