The running joke has always been that Parisians are snobs, right? That the citizens of this fabulous city are haughty, rude to tourists, and unwelcoming to the uncultured, unenlightened masses? But not so fast. What struck me most during Fashion Week in the French capital, which ended Wednesday, was how international and non-local it has become at a time when other cities have become so insular. As I duly reported, New York Fashion Week was consumed with the American presidential election, and London Fashion Week—the first since the U.K. voted on Brexit—was focused on its British-ness. But Paris, a city I routinely tease for being considered so unfriendly, today seems inspired by those who aren’t even from here.
Let’s consider the design houses that show in Paris. Both Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent debuted new designers at their helms this season, neither of whom are French. Dior welcomed
Maria Grazia Chiuri, an Italian who formerly worked in partnership with
Pier Paolo Piccioli at Valentino; and Y.S.L. hired
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Anthony Vaccarello, a Belgian who designed Versus Versace’s diffusion line. (One of the first things he did was return the Y to the label, which his predecessor
Hedi Slimane had removed and renamed Saint Laurent.) Chanel? We all know
Karl Lagerfeld is German.
Riccardo Tisci, an Italian, is the creative director at Givenchy.
Phoebe Philo was technically born in Paris but to British parents, and only took the job as the designer of Céline when it was agreed she could move the studio to England where she was based.
Stella McCartney and
Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen: they’re both British, too. Loewe?
Jonathan Anderson hails from Northern Ireland and heads the Spanish label, which has shown in Paris for decades.
Do you want to know what one of my favorite shows at Paris Fashion Week was? Fenty x Puma, which is designed by
Rihanna, the pop star who was born in Barbados. Stop rolling your eyes! Rihanna’s collection wasn’t the most commercial—parachute jackets with high-heeled sneakers and pearl necklaces, and that’s what the men were wearing—but it was clear that it was her point of view and not something she just slapped her name on. Backstage after the show (which is where I scored my requisite selfie because she was in a damn good mood), she had said how elated she was with her warm welcome at her first Paris Fashion Week.
This idea of non-French living in Paris was illustrated at a small dinner at my friend
Lauren Santo Domingo’s house here, which was hosted by *Vogue’*s
Anna Wintour and
Hillary Clinton’s right-hand woman. The evening hoped to appeal to the more than 8 million Americans who live abroad, reportedly only 12 percent of whom vote in the presidential elections. Projections say that twice the number of people who live abroad and voted in the 2008 election will vote this November, but even that is less than a quarter of the population living outside the United States. What are they doing instead of voting? Do they feel so at home in Paris that they’re not too worried about what’s happening on the other side of the pond? (Let’s hope not. And if any of you expats are reading this, you can go to votefromabroad.org for more information on absentee ballots.)
Not all of the fashion industry in Paris comes from outside the country, of course.
Nicolas Ghesquière is the French creative director of Louis Vuitton, and
Olivier Rousteing grew up in Bordeaux and designs at Balmain. Though, it’s interesting to note that both of these designers rely on outsiders to help promote their brands:
Michelle Williams and
Jennifer Connelly were guests of honor at L.V., and
Kim Kardashian West was front and center at Balmain. A few days after Rousteing’s show, Kardashian West was robbed during a terrifying ordeal. At the Chanel show, Lagerfeld said he felt bad for anyone who is attacked, and also for the cloud it cast on his adopted home of Paris.
It’s an interesting paradox: Have Parisian fashion folk been blasé for so long that they haven’t realized that the town is run by fashion professionals who are from elsewhere? Or, is this the sort of city where beauty and talent reign supreme, no matter where you come from? Maybe, in the exact reverse sentiment as Brexit, Parisians are less French and more generally European. I was pondering this thought on what has become an annual tradition for me: before heading to the airport, I go for a croissant and scrambled eggs in the St. Germain neighborhood. The service was atrocious: I had to beg for a menu, it took forever to get my food, and I gave up waiting for change when I paid the check and just had to leave. The fashion industry may be welcoming to tourists in this town, but the waiters at that cafe still treat me like an American asshole.
Source : http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2016/10/derek-blasberg-paris-fashion-week