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FASHION

Emotions high ahead of Gaultier’s ‘last’ show

Expectation--and nostalgia--are mounting ahead of the 'last' show for legendary designer Jean-Paul Gaulthier before he retires from the ready-to-wear fashion business.

Emotions high ahead of Gaultier's 'last' show
Designer Jean-Paul Gauthier, right, is to give his 'last' show this week. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Flamboyant designer Jean Paul Gaultier's last ready-to-wear show will provide an emotional highlight of nine days of fashion collections due to get underway in Paris on Tuesday.

The 62-year-old showman of the catwalks is to bow out of ready-to-wear after nearly 40 years to concentrate on his couture collections.

The designer has said the decision was taken after an "in-depth assessment" of his eponymous fashion house's future with Spanish fragrance and fashion group Puig, which has a majority stake.

Gaultier's last show, which will be held on Saturday, is one of over 90 scheduled for the next week-and-a-half.

After New York, London and Milan, other highlights will be first collections by Georgia's David Koma for Mugler and France's Julie de Libran for Sonia Rykiel.

Three names also making their debut in the Paris ready-to wear calendar are Japan's Anrealage, the US's Hood by Air and India's Rahul Mishra.

Stephane Wargnier, new executive president of the French Federation of Couture, said Gaultier's last show was likely to be spectacular and upbeat, albeit tinged with sadness.

"Everyone will want to be there and I think it's certainly going to be a very moving moment," he said.

In recent years Gaultier, considered one of France's most talented designers, has been the subject of a major retrospective by the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal.

Since 2011, the exhibition has been seen by a million visitors worldwide and is due to arrive in Paris in 2015.

One room in the exhibition is devoted to "Eurotrash", the outlandish adult television show hosted by Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes on Britain's Channel 4 during the 1990s.

The designer said earlier this month that "commercial constraints as well as the frenetic pace of collections" had left him little freedom to explore fresh ideas and innovate.

"The pace is harder than in the past, retail demands several deliveries per season, so we are no longer in an era when one calmly does a collection every six months," Wargnier said.

"It's the way it is in fashion now and everyone adapts in their own way," he added.

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FASHION

Paris exhibition celebrates 100 years of French Vogue

A new exhibition in Paris will tell the story of 100 years of French Vogue - from the post-war 'New Look' of Christian Dior through the sexual liberation of the 1960s to the dangling-cigarette waifs of the 2000s.

French Vogue celebrates 100 years
French Vogue celebrates 100 years. Photo: Thomas Olva/AFP

But as well as celebrating the magazine’s storied history, the exhibit comes at a time of turbulence for the publication.

Just last month, it was confirmed that its editor of 10 years, Emmanuelle Alt, was out and wouldn’t be replaced.

She was not alone.

Looking to cut costs, owner Conde Nast International has axed editors across Europe over the past year, and put international Vogue editions under the direct control of global editorial director, Anna Wintour, in New York.

New York-based Anna Wintour now has overall control of French Vogue. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Like much of the media industry, Vogue is struggling with tumbling sales and ad revenue in the digital era.

But the latest twist is also part of the endless push and pull between New York and Paris going back to its early days.

“The whole history of French Vogue is one of back-and-forth with Conde Nast in New York – growing more independent for a while, then being reined back in,” said Sylvie Lecallier, curator of the new exhibition, “Vogue Paris 1920-2020″, which opened this weekend after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

The Paris edition was often the loftier, more bohemian sibling to its more hard-nosed New York version.

But it was also the hotbed in which much of 20th century style and womenhood came to be defined.

“Paris was the place to hunt out talent and content and bring it to New York,” said Lecallier.

The exhibition charts the evolution from art deco drawings of the 1920s through the erotic image-making of photographers like Helmut Newton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its last peak was under editor Carine Roitfeld in the 2000s, who brought back a provocative Gallic identity by ridding the newsroom of foreign staff and becoming a fashion icon in her own right.

Her successor, Alt, was a quieter presence, though she still oversaw key moments including its first transgender cover star, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio, in 2017.

But internet culture has created “a perfect storm” for Vogue, says media expert Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

“The first 80 years of Vogue’s life, it had the market to itself, it was the bible for fashion,” McCabe told AFP.

“But online today, there are so many other ways to get your information. Influencers, Instagram, YouTube — everyone’s a threat.”

In a world where new fashion trends can blow up around the world in seconds, it has become much harder for a monthly magazine to set the pace.

“It’s not that they can’t survive for another 100 years — but they will be differently sized,” McCabe said.

Vogue has tried to branch out into different areas, including events.

“I used to work for a magazine, and today I work for a brand,” Alt said on the eve of French Vogue’s 1,000th issue in 2019.

But the big money was always in print, and Vogue Paris sales are dropping steadily from 98,345 in 2017 to 81,962 to 2020, according to data site ACPM.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the new top job in Paris, redefined as “head of editorial content”, went to Eugenie Trochu, who was key to building the magazine’s online presence.

She declared herself “thrilled to be part of Vogue’s international transformation”.

For the curator of the exhibition, it is ironic timing.

“We had no idea it would end like this when we started work on the exhibition,” said Lecallier.

“Who knows where it will go from here.”

The exhibition Vogue Paris 1920-2020 is at the Palais Galliera in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for the exhibition are €14 (€12 for concessions and under 18s go free) and must be reserved online in advance. 

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