No bubbly at Dior as Paris Fashion Week sobers up

Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:07pm EST
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By Sophie Hardach

PARIS (Reuters) - Dior scrapped the champagne and laid on the glitter at its menswear show in Paris on Sunday, trying to seduce reluctant buyers with casual suits, adventurous cuts and sparkly detail.

Christian Dior's Chief Executive Sidney Toledano sounded a cautiously upbeat note, saying the fashion house did not plan to cut any jobs despite the global downturn.

"It's a positive mood. We are saying in these times, it is important to dress as elegantly as possible," he told Reuters backstage after the show, surrounded by models and stylists.

Belgian designer Kris Van Assche displayed wit and craftsmanship with pin-striped hooded tops, sparkling embellishments on suits and jumpers, and a shirt that was buttoned up at the back, revealing a coquettish triangle of bare skin.

"It's about showing the cut, the material, things that are as pure as possible," Toledano said. "And you also have to make people dream, because it's a show."

But Dior's optimistic effort only partly masked the somewhat somber atmosphere at this year's autumn/winter collections.

Luxury executives used to describe their sector as fairly recession-proof, saying the super-rich would always shop, but plummeting stock markets and teetering banks have hurt even the biggest spenders.

At the same time, the downturn has cut deep into a broad base of aspirational fashion fans -- mostly young, female professionals buying the shoes and handbags worn by their favorite celebrities.   Continued...

<p>Models present creations by Belgian designer Kris Van Assche for fashion house Dior as part of his Fall/Winter 2009-2010 men's ready-to-wear fashion collection at the Paris Fashion Week January 25, 2009. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>