Paris fashion ecosystem on edge as shows disappear

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  • It seems to be a quieter Paris Fashion Week this year. 
  • A whole chain of businesses, normally working overtime at the peak of the fashion season, is being upended as the global crisis forced many luxury labels to cancel events. 
  • Even as some of the world's biggest brands tentatively return to the Paris runways, most designers are still abstaining from physical shows. It's a blow for models, makeup artists, lighting specialists and caterers alike. 

Model Tiffany Fournier, who's used to walking in five runway shows each season, says it has been a big change. She explains that she's used to doing lots of shows during fashion week but hasn't done any since February. 

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For a nine-day period, 85 brands are due to showcase womenswear looks as part of Paris Fashion Week, normally one of several fixtures estimated to generate over $1 billion (more than R16 billion) in annual revenues for the city. 

Only 19 are hosting actual shows, among them, the most emblematic French labels such as Chanel and Christian Dior are pressing ahead with socially-distanced front rows.

Others are holding small presentations by appointment or streaming videos. Parties of over 300 people are a no-no. And even smaller events are becoming complicated as the French government brings in fresh restrictions.

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But designers and brands alike are anxious to retain a link with their audience of professional buyers and media critics. Alexandre Mattiussi, the creator of French brand AMI, says there are some upsides to limiting the numbers at shows.

"The audience will be I feel, I hope, much more relaxed in a way, and because you have the distancing or so with the 1 meter, you know, between everyone, and that's going to be kind of like a - yeah, like a very nice wedding," says Alexandre.

AMI is set to hold a show on 3 October with under 150 guests rather than the usual 600 - 700. 

Compiled by Phelokazi Mbude

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