Paris calls off all live runway shows for menswear and haute couture seasons in January
Two Paris Fashion Weeks scheduled for this month – menswear and haute couture – will not feature any live runway shows, after the government informed the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode that audiences attending any catwalk show would be in breach of the rules of the current Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
The decision emerged after discussions between the Préfecture de Police in Paris and the Fédération, which informed the participating houses of the decision on Friday.
It also follows the latest address from French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday evening, January 7, in which he emphasized that restrictions would remain in place in France. Restaurants, cinemas and ski resorts have been closed since December as the country struggles to slow down the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, the Fédération insists the seasons will continue, albeit overwhelmingly online.
"Yes, we can confirm that there cannot be any public gatherings at any fashion show. But our two Paris Fashion Weeks are going ahead and we remain very optimistic for both the menswear season and haute couture," insisted the Fédération’s executive president Pascal Morand.
He added that many houses were still deciding on the exact format of their shows, but stressed that houses could still present shows with models on the web, though behind closed doors.
"Fashion maisons are also allowed to organize professional RDVs and presentations, naturally respecting the rules about the number of people in any given space," he added.
"We still in France and we have to remember that. This is a decision that comes from the government and prefecture and we will naturally respect that also," Morand added.
"It does make everything very complicated but we have planned to go ahead. We have a state-of-the-art platform, where people can see every collection on the web. So, everything is in place for it to work," he said.
Paris had already published significant schedules of shows, highlighting the desire of many houses to present collections. As noted, the menswear season is scheduled to be staged from Tuesday, January 19 to Sunday, January 24, while the haute couture season will take place between Monday, January 25 and Thursday, January 28.
All told, there are 71 houses listed on the menswear calendar, including such powerhouse marques as Louis Vuitton, Dior Homme and Hermès, along with influential designer brands as Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Vetements, Paul Smith, Loewe and Thom Browne. The couture calendar features 32 houses, such as Chanel, Armani Privé and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Reacting to the news, a spokeswoman for Hermès noted that many houses had not made any final decision about staging until after hearing Prime Minister Castex's speech.
"There will be no défilés in Paris this month. We have been informed. It’s official," the Hermès spokeswoman said.
Last season, Hermès menswear designer Véronique Nichanian staged a live online event, a mock look book shoot inside the brand’s headquarters, successfully showcasing a cool patrician collection.
"This time we will do a video. We are still working on that. But exactly how is still a secret," the spokeswoman added.
Christian Dior has two shows on the calendars: Dior Homme and Dior couture. Asked about the house’s plans, a spokesman responded: "There can be no live show. This is the choice that has been made. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. And naturally we will respect that decision. It’s force majeure due to the pandemic. So, expect to see a digital fashion show."
Experts in France are warning of a coming surge in infections in the wake of extensive family travel over the Christmas break.
Restaurants will remain closed until at least mid-February and ski resorts are not expected to open before the February holidays. A nightly curfew will be extended until at least January 20 and further national restrictions could not be ruled out, Castex said Thursday.
France is still reporting over 20,000 new cases daily of Covid-19 this week, still very far from the government's target of fewer than 5,000 daily infections.
The Fédération has been working closely with the Préfecture, especially since the terrorist attacks of November 2015. Security is tight at any major show, and plain clothes detectives attend many Paris catwalks events.
"We are in contact with Préfecture regularly. It’s like being partners. The one thing we will never compromise is public safety. There can be no question of putting anyone at risk," stressed Morand.
The next Paris season after January is the women’s ready-to-wear fashion week, due to be held from March 1 to 9.
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