New York Designers Head to Paris For Fashion Week

Christian Siriano in Paris
Courtesy of Christian Siriano

Think New York-based designers are finally taking a breather after showing their fall 2011 collections in the city that never sleeps last month? Think again. Many rising stars from New York have decamped to Paris for fashion week to show off their collections once again to a coterie of international press and buyers.

Christian Siriano has set up shop at the famed Le Meurice Hotel as part of the The Vendôme Luxury Trade Show. Chris Benz is sharing a suite with shoe designer Alejandro Ingelmo (who designed the shoes for his fall 2011 presentation) at the Westin. Alexander Wang is hosting appointments at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. And Maria Cornejo held a presentation at a private house on the left bank on Sunday.

Some designers including Zac Posen and Rad Hourani have decided to make Paris the home base of their shows. Hourani shows his less expensive and more wearable line “Rad” in New York, but has chosen Paris to show his namesake line. Posen, after showing in New York since 2002, made the move across the pond to show his spring 2011 collection and returned again to show this season.

Jason Wu was spotted on the front row at Lanvin, which set tongues wagging that the brand might be courting the American designer (with a new vacancy at Dior, most insiders are anticipating quite a game of musical chairs among the top labels in Paris). He told WWD that he was in town for meetings and had been invited by the house's owner, Shaw-Lan Wang.

Why the continued importance of Paris when with one click of the mouse these days you can have access to images from any designer collection via the Internet? Posen suggested last season to WWD that he was moving his show to Paris “where they understand my clothes.” Paris has long been considered the more creative fashion capital, while New York has been deemed the commercial epicenter.

That may be just a sliver of the story. The real reason may have nothing to do with Paris at all, and may rather be centered around the growing importance of China to fashion brands. Chinese department stores like Joyce and Lane Crawford champion young designers. And many fashion brands are pointing to the China luxury boom as the saving grace of fashion following the recession. With the flight between Paris and Beijing lasting a palatable nine hours, many Chinese buyers and its nouveau riche (who are increasingly sitting front row at designer shows) are coming to view Paris as a one-stop shop, which may explain why so many designers from New York are more than willing to make the trip. 

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