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Paris Fashion Week: Behind the Scenes Part II

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

9 Oct 2016


Paris Fashion Week was marked by a week of debuts, a return to the 80s and a theft. Designers took us to new heights for spring summer 2017, from Dries van Noten's floral installations frozen in ice, to strong reboots at Dior and Valentino. The French Fashion Institute, IFM, announced at the end of the week that Paris Fashion Week is an incomparable profit driver for the city and that revenue of French fashion brings in more euros than the automotive and aerospace industries combined.

Perhaps that is why nearly 50 percent of brands showing on the Paris catwalks are international. The showrooms and trade shows are replete with an even greater percentage of international designers, because in fashion, the mountain doesn't come to Mohammed, and so the world flocks to the City of Lights for their slice of the fashionable pie. Paris may be the centre of establishment and luxury, but there is space for new talent too, as seen at Farfetch and Buro 24/7 founder Miroslava Dum's initiative of introducing emerging designers from Russia. It helped, of course, that it was held at the newly reopened Ritz, and that Dum is fabulously connected.

The majority of designers show away from the catwalks

But for every brand on the runway, there are a hundred others who's collections are being shown as installations, as part of a showroom portfolio, exhibiting at trade shows like the Tranoii at the Palais de la Bourse or showcasing their collections individually.

As someone familiar with the fashion calendar, I know that one of the most difficult aspects of fashion week is for a designer to see buyers. The week is overflowing with brands and buyers are inundated with invitations to see them. It is an unspoken rule that high-end retailers prioritise the catwalk designers and with a maximum possibility of attending 8 appointments per day, there are only so many collections buyers can see throughout fashion week.

During fashion week, nothing goes according to plan

Which is why many brands take to their diaries as early as July and August to make appointments. Having the security of a full appointment book will allow brands to forecast their sales and budget for the season ahead. But once those appointments are in the books, come fashion week, it all goes topsy turvy. There is never a day that goes according to plan, with buyers seldom arriving on time, stores changing appointments or failing to show altogether. Then there are unexpected walk-ins or the occasional buying house popping in to introduce a client or two. Being prepared for the unprepared is the best advice to give to brands and their sales teams.

While the days may be long and full of trials and tribulations, it will all be worth it when next season your collection is hanging in the stores you once only dreamed of. As one buyer said to Dutch designer Ronald van der Kemp, who showed his latest collection in a gallery in Paris' 1 arrondissement: "I can see the love and passion evoked in each design, that is what fashion is all about."

Photo credits: Tranoi, Paris

behind the scenes