Fashion Shows Go His and Hers

Designers tip their hands with men's shows that foreshadow women's.

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Dries Van Noten RTW Fall 2009

Photo By Giovanni Giannoni

Prada RTW Fall 2009

Photo By Giovanni Giannoni

Prada chief executive officer Patrizio Bertelli has suggested merging the men’s and women’s fashion weeks in Milan, and the idea has supporters, including Al-Sabah, who attends both men’s and women’s shows.

“I have always thought that it is a waste of time, energy and cost to fly twice to both fashion weeks when both can be done in one go,” Al-Sabah said. “However, if the fashion world wakes up and comes out of its egos, we will all achieve smarter, more profitable businesses.”

This idea has not gained much traction for multiple reasons. Among them is the opinion — supported by most co-ed shows in New York — that when men and women share a runway, the men are easily overlooked. DKNY, Adam and Yigal Azrouël recently yanked men from runways altogether rather than continue having combined shows where men’s wear got short shrift. Marc Jacobs did, too, years ago. And Tommy Hilfiger has gone back and forth on the issue.

“As things stand, it is still important that each of our collections for men and women benefit from its own expression, environment and timbre,” said Van Noten, who shows in Paris. “We are happy, for the moment, with the status quo.”

But the current format will likely keep coming into question as men’s and women’s fashion continue on the path of convergence, and as long as the industry remains in cost-cutting mode.

“I think showing men’s and women’s together could be very interesting,” said Simons.

Dolce and Gabbana acknowledged that a combination of some kind would be difficult, but they wouldn’t necessarily oppose it.

“The possibilities are limitless,” Dolce said. “Change is an integral part of our creativity and seeing things in a new way is essential for us to move forward.”


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