Feb 28, 2017
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New faces and a final bow as Paris Fashion Week debuts

Feb 28, 2017

Fashion Week kicks off in Paris on Tuesday with all eyes on the game of musical chairs underway at top labels, while several designers will send models down the city's catwalks for the first time.

British fashion designer Clare Waight Keller©PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP

It's a shorter week this year, at eight days instead of the usual nine, and there will be just 82 shows of fall and winter collections compared with 91 in September.

But there are three new faces this time around: the Shanghai-based Uma Wang and the French brands Jour/Ne and Atlein.

A highlight of the week will be the final show for Clare Waight Keller at Chloe before the British designer heads to new adventures at the end of March.

Chloe's owner, the Swiss luxury conglomerate Richemont, has yet to name a replacement.

Another seat is also waiting to be filled at Givenchy, which the Italian designer Riccardo Tisci left in January after a 12-year run.

With no designer at the helm, Givenchy won't be showing in Paris this week, nor will Carven as it waits for Swiss designer Serge Ruffieux to settle into his new role.

- New formulas -

Recent shows in New York and London were peppered with politics, and Paris might not escape the trend as the French presidential election looms.

The shows have already become events that aim to go beyond the catwalk, as brands experiment with new formulas to stand out in a market upended by digital media.

The traditional formats are being reworked: Women's and men's shows at the same time, virtual reality displays, ready-to-wear mixed with haute couture -- and the "see now, buy now" phenomenon, which so far Paris has done its best to resist.

"Everyone is trying to find the answer that works best for them," said Pascal Morand, head of the French Couture Association.

But for many labels, the shows remain crucial tools for putting designs in front of new audiences.

"It's exactly like concerts, which are even more important today. The sensory experience can't be reproduced with virtual reality," Morand said.

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