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Paris (AFP) – After winning over critics in New York and London, Victoria Beckham is taking a step towards the forefront of luxury with her debut at Paris Fashion Week, which opens on Monday.
“It’s the arrival of a very beautiful label. We are delighted to have Victoria Beckham with us,” Pascal Morand, president of the French Haute Couture and Fashion Federation (FHCM), told AFP.
The 48-year-old Briton joins 104 labels in the official line-up for the ready-to-wear spring-summer shows in Paris – the most commercially important week of the fashion calendar.
A handful of brands are sticking to online presentations, which have become the norm during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But most of the big names are back in the swing of live catwalk shows, including Dior, Chanel, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Issey Miyake, as well as up-and-coming brands like Weinsanto, kicking off Monday.
Beckham hosted her first runway show in New York in 2008 and has mainly presented there over the years, apart from a brief relationship in London.
“Don’t underestimate her,” Vogue supremo Anna Wintour said when Beckham started, and indeed, the former Spice Girl has proven that she’s more than just a celebrity hobbyist.
But despite 250 retail outlets for her clothes worldwide, 30 million followers on Instagram, and one of the most famous husbands in the world, Beckham’s company has always struggled to turn a profit.
“The Big League”
To turn things around, she has recruited top French talent, including former FHCM president Ralph Toledano as chair and Marie Leblanc de Reynies, formerly head buyer at Parisian department store Printemps, as CEO.
“Victoria doesn’t come from the fashion world. She threw herself into the business and at a certain point she needed to structure, organize and bring some order to the house, which we have been doing for the past four years. “Toledano told AFP.
A successful cosmetics line launched in 2019 has helped cut losses and the team hopes to break even in the coming months.
“We defined a strategy, combined two pret-a-porter lines, found the right price point… now it’s time to move into the big league,” Toledano said.
That means Paris Fashion Week, where Beckham will be presenting on Friday — introducing her to the industry’s loftiest and most scrutinized events.
“She’s a bit intimidated, she’s someone very humble,” Toledano said.
It’s a sign of the continued importance of traditional fashion events, even as some labels break away from the relentless routine of the official calendar.
Notably absent this week is French label Celine, whose artistic director Hedi Slimane has been blowing hot and cold at fashion weeks.
After declaring the entire system “obsolete” in 2020, he was back for the menswear showcases in June before not appearing again for womenswear – all with no explanation.
Morand insisted Celine’s absence was a “non-event”.
“The label or the artistic director can make other decisions. There’s that freedom,” he said.
© 2022 AFP