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Life & Style

Paris Fashion Week starts after Balmain robbery

Published September 23, 2023
(FILES) French fashion designer Olivier Rousteing greets spectators after presenting Balmain Womenswear Fall-Winter 2023-2024 collection during Paris Fashion Week in Paris, on March 1, 2023. Photo: AFP
(FILES) French fashion designer Olivier Rousteing greets spectators after presenting Balmain Womenswear Fall-Winter 2023-2024 collection during Paris Fashion Week in Paris, on March 1, 2023. Photo: AFP

PARIS: The hectic fashion season reaches its last stop in Paris on Monday, with the biggest intrigue being whether beloved brand Balmain can recover from the theft of 50 outfits last week.

“Our driver called us to say that he had been attacked by a group of people. More than 50 items were stolen,” Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing said on Instagram on September 16.

“My team and I have worked very hard. We will work even harder, day and night,” he added, though even by the breakneck pace of the fashion world, it is a tall order to pull a collection together by the time his show opens on Wednesday night.

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The fashionistas are wishing him well.

“I know that you and your creativity will be able to overcome this!” wrote Donatella Versace in the comments.

The spring-summer 2024 womenswear collections in Paris come with buyers, bloggers and influencers still digesting the hundreds of new trends put forward in London, New York and Milan through September.

The nine days in the French capital add a further 107 brands – including mainstays like Christian Dior, Saint Laurent, Chanel and Celine – of which 67 are doing runway shows and 40 online presentations.

Analysts say the fashion market is waning slightly after a red-hot phase following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

“Consumers are sobering up from the post-pandemic euphoria and luxury spending growth will undoubtedly moderate,” head of luxury goods research at Bernstein, Luca Solca, wrote for online magazine Business of Fashion.

But he added that “rising income and wealth inequality are boosting spending power at the top of the socio-economic pyramid” and that brands are becoming experts at targeting the top five percent of clients, who account for 40 percent of sales.

Royal connection

Balmain has more immediate concerns.

It’s a “unique” case, said fashion expert Serge Carreira, of Sciences Po university.

“A package might get lost in transit occasionally,” he told AFP. “But the number of pieces lost here is impressive.”

The closest precedent is perhaps when Marc Jacobs had an entire collection stolen on a train from Paris to London, but he had already held his show.

This week will also see the last collection from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen after more than 20 years at the helm.

She took over following the suicide of Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010 and distinguished herself the following year by designing the wedding dress of Kate Middleton for her marriage to Prince William.

Another royal connection – Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri presents on Tuesday just after a high-profile commission designing the flowing navy-blue dress for Queen Camilla during her state dinner at Versailles on Wednesday. Dior was also a favourite label of Princess Diana, the former wife of King Charles – immortalised in the Lady Dior bag named in her honour before her death in 1997.

Meanwhile, fashion week opens as usual with a day dedicated to emerging talent, including avant-garde Belgian designer Marie Adam-Leenaerdt. Pierre Cardin returns this week – having made its first appearance at Paris Fashion Week in 25 years back in March, under the direction of the founder’s nephew, Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin.

However, the house is mired in controversy over the succession of the empire, with members of the family accusing each other of fraud and other crimes.


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Paris Fashion Week starts after Balmain robbery

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