Ahead of the Olympics, fashion week brings another layer of chaos to Paris


By AGENCY

A file picture shows Dries Van Noten walking the runway. This week will also see the final show by the Belgian designer. Photo: AFP

Paris Fashion Week returns on Tuesday (June 18), bringing some much-needed light relief to a country in the throes of political chaos.

Menswear week runs until next Sunday (June 23), followed immediately by the haute couture shows until June 27.

France has been in turmoil since President Emmanuel Macron called surprise legislative elections after a surge by the far-right in European polls.

But for fashionistas, the biggest issue might be getting around Paris, which is also finalising preparations to host next month's Olympic Games, with a tenfold increase in traffic congestion due to road and site closures.

The Olympics have brought the menswear and couture weeks forward from July (womenswear takes place in September).

With fashion already working at a punishing pace, that has forced some houses to abandon this season, including Olivier Rousteing's Balmain, which said it had pulled out at the last minute.

Valentino and Givenchy are also skipping this week's shows.

Read more: Before the Olympics, there is the fabulous French fashion flex

As for the big names who are appearing, hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams will continue his high-profile leadership at Louis Vuitton, marking a year since his ultra-lavish debut show when he took over the Pont Neuf bridge and painted its paving stones gold.

But the highlight will be a mega-party organised by Vogue on Sunday (June 23) bringing together the doubly lucrative worlds of sports and fashion.

It is the third edition of Vogue World – a sort of traveling Met Gala that has already seen events in New York and London – and comes as the brand seeks new ways to stay relevant in a world of dwindling magazine sales.

Several top brands will display collections, including Dior, Jacquemus, Hermes and Balenciaga, each paired with an Olympic discipline from athletics to breakdancing.

Chanel shock

There have been some big movements at the heads of fashion houses.

The biggest shock was the announcement last week that Chanel has dropped Virginie Viard, who worked for 20 years alongside her predecessor Karl Lagerfeld and took over after his death in 2019.

It appears the split was less than amicable, since Viard will not be present for Chanel's couture show on June 25, despite overseeing record sales for the brand last year.

"It will be a studio collection and Virginie Viard will not be present," a Chanel spokesperson said.

The end of the Lagerfeld era has set off fashionistas' favourite pastime: speculating on who comes next.

Read more: Who’s in and who’s out: The latest movements among the big fashion houses

Among the names circulating: France's Marine Serre, Hedi Slimane of Celine, Pierpaolo Piccioli (who recently left Valentino) and Simon Porte Jacquemus, whose eponymous label has been one of the big independent success stories of recent years.

While Valentino awaits the debut of its high-profile new creative director Alessandro Michele (formerly of Gucci), Givenchy is still looking for a lead designer since the departure of Matthew Williams last year.

This week will also see the final show by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten on Saturday (June 22).

Though not a household name, the 66-year-old is retiring as a favourite among serious fashion fans for his avant-garde styles and expert tailoring. – AFP

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