Paris fashion week

One of the more interesting additions to the Paris Fashion Week schedule came courtesy not of any big group, but rather a human rights lawyer named Paul van Zyl.

A native of South Africa now living in Brooklyn, Mr van Zyl has spent more than a decade working with Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and his experience inspired him to start…a luxury brand. It’s called Maiyet, and had its first runway show on Sunday.

Come again? 

After Fashion 4 Development, the UN initiative involving Michelle Obama and Carla Sarkozy and geared toward supporting industry in developing countries, after Fashion Ambassadors (where celebs and socialites are paid to wear a brand’s clothes out and about), comes…Ambassadors 4 Fashion, a new, unofficial initiative launched this week in Paris.

I say “unofficial,” because I just made it up. But what else to think after the quartet of invitations I have received. To be specific: 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the best fashion week of all?

Such appears to be the refrain of the moment in Paris and Milan. Perhaps it is because of the historic rivalry. It’s like siblings: Who is better? Bigger? More creative? Who knows more powerful people? Who gets more attention? Perhaps it is because lately it seems as if every country is starting at least one, if not two, fashion weeks of their own, but Milan and Paris seem to be doing their utmost to add more designers to their schedule, thereby increasing their reach and power and asserting their primacy in this notably hierarchical world. 

Follow the FT’s latest reports from Paris Fashion Week.  

I spent my last night in Paris watching Azzedine Alaia getting ready for his show, and it was a very thought-provoking way to end this whole hoo-ha of a season. Fitting, you could say (pun fully intended).

You could also say, “But wait! The shows are over! Why is he only getting ready now?” To which I would say: “That’s the point. He is only ready now – actually, he’s not quite ready now, but he will be soon – and he only shows when he is ready.”

And here’s the interesting thing: Mr Alaia’s business is growing by leaps and bounds. He’s taking over the enormous former Prada space at Barneys New York, he has a 120 sq metre space at Harrods already, he’s getting a bigger place at Harvey Nichols, opening corners in China, etc.

This is, I remind you, someone who no longer plays the fashion game at all: shows when the press has left Paris if that’s how it goes (buyers are still there; someone is around), delivers when it’s ready, and doesn’t do pre-collections. Plus, his work is priced at the highest end of the fashion spectrum. All of which has served to make him…more in demand. 

Follow the FT’s reports from Paris Fashion Week. 

A fitting end to a strange, dark season.

Louis Vuitton fashion show

Follow the FT’s reports from Paris Fashion Week. 

Follow the FT’s reports from Paris Fashion Week. 

Sidney Toledano, ceo of Dior, just got up in a black suit and black tie before the show and made this statement; here it is in full: