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March 17, 2009 9:51 PM

Fashion

A Less Revolutionary Paris

Everyone loves being in Paris for fashion week, but this season it felt like a party that went on a little too long. That many retailers and editors cut their trips short suggests the show-business aspect of fashion needs a...

Everyone loves being in Paris for fashion week, but this season it felt like a party that went on a little too long. That many retailers and editors cut their trips short suggests the show-business aspect of fashion needs a reality check at a time when the industry is girding for even more turmoil as the recession drags on. Showgoers complained about poor logistics in Paris, with the new out-of-the-way venue Halle Freyssinet winning few fans, and major designer names spread out too thin over too many days. And then there were the usual grumbles about late starts and disorganization at the door, even at big names like Givenchy and Hermÿs. Sure, it's bellyaching from a pampered bunch, but there's a point: If shopkeepers can't afford brusque or cold service that might dissuade the few people still shopping from opening their wallets, can designers afford to keep inconveniencing their public?

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It strikes me that the last revolutionary idea about fashion week came back in the late Nineties, when Helmut Lang, an Austrian designer who has since retired from the business, upended the international fashion calendar by deciding to show his collection in New York, ahead of Milan and Paris.

American designers followed suit, and so the situation has remained much the same ever since. Fashion is ready for its next new big idea, at least in terms of shows.

The big question is: Who's going to come up with it?
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