Paris fashion shows defy gloomy world climate

Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:00pm EDT
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By James Mackenzie

PARIS (Reuters) - France's ready-to-wear spring and summer shows began in earnest on Monday with Christian Dior's collection, as the world of fashion flew in the face of an increasingly ominous world environment.

Dior's show at the Tuileries gardens marked the start of the main part of the industry showpiece after the annual spring-summer shows began at the weekend with collections from a clutch of younger designers.

"Tribal chic. Studded. Belted. Degrade," read the notes to Dior designer John Galliano's show in which he sent a parade of teenaged models in diaphanous party dresses stalking down the catwalk to a pulsing rock beat.

"It's very young, transparent, light and quite sober," actress Marisa Berenson told Reuters Television after the show. "There were some wonderful mixtures of colors as he always does but I liked the lightness and the transparency."

Around 100 designers will be showing collections over the coming week, sending models, stylists, reporters and fashionistas racing around the French capital, seemingly oblivious to turbulence menacing the global economy.

As bank regulators and government leaders in Washington and Europe struggle to control a global financial crisis that has brought low some of the biggest names in banking and threatens the global economy, the industry was looking on the bright side.

"There are countries where there is growth," Sidney Toledano, head of Dior Couture, told Reuters. "We have a strategy of building up in emerging countries and reinforcement in mature markets," he said.

Outside the Dior show, jostling cameramen and celebrities striking artful poses in the autumn sunshine sounded a traditional fashion note as reporters scrapped it out for insights from the stars.   Continued...

<p>Models appear on the catwalk at the end of French fashion house Dior Spring/Summer 2009 women's ready-to-wear fashion show by British designer John Galliano in Paris September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Charles Platiau</p>