Paris fashion week strutting under cloudy economy

Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:16pm EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris Fashion Week kicked off on Tuesday under a cloud of economic pessimism mixed with uncertainty about the creative direction of some of the world's biggest fashion brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Celine and Yves Saint Laurent.

After New York, London and Milan, Paris closes the season of presentations for next spring and summer with nine days of shows at which designers will be fighting for buyers and media attention amid worries about a possible economic slowdown.

In an early sign of trouble, Barbara Bui, one of France's few listed fashion brands, said earlier this month trading had become more unpredictable as it was concerned rising European taxes could affect consumer spending.

The next three months to Christmas is the make-or-break period for fashion brands when they sell the most products at full price. It is also when orders for next spring are made.

In France, business and consumer confidence slumped in September as investors questioned the solidity of the banking system, future growth prospects and whether the current euro zone debt crisis could be solved.

Making the industry's future even more of a guessing game, many top fashion houses are looking to for a next generation of designers to inject youth and excitement.

Christian Dior's show on Friday will be the talk of the town as the brand is still without a designer six months after the departure of John Galliano whose career at the French house ended abruptly after making anti-Semitic remarks at a Paris bar.

Dior's first show without Galliano in July was panned by critics as confusing and too zany.   Continued...

<p>A model displays a creation by Portuguese designer Fatima Lopes as part of her Spring/Summer 2012 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection show in Paris, September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>