Faces old and new as fashion roadshow comes to Paris

The fashion roadshow rolls into Paris this week, after glamour stops in Milan, New York and London, with faces old and new sending down the catwalks their women's ready-to-wear looks for spring/summer.

Ninety-one catwalk shows in the official diary alone will keep the fashion crowd on its toes for nine days starting Tuesday, without counting the off-calendar and showroom events favoured by many smaller designers.

Once the day is done, Paris is also set for a burst of extravagant partying, with fashion magazines and brands competing to attract the in-crowd to a string of late night events - a way of drawing a line under the economic slowdown.

For the first time in close to two decades, the Paris shows are deserting their traditional venue under the Louvre Museum, for a giant tent set up at the foot of the Grand Palais, a vast domed exhibition hall near the River Seine.

Four rooms nestled under the Louvre pyramid long formed the nerve centre of the Paris ready-to-wear shows, hosting up to eight shows a day.

But the jump in event numbers, and designers' growing taste for offbeat locations meant fashion week had started to outgrow the Louvre location, and this year shows will be spread across venues on both sides of the Seine.

Day one, as dictated by tradition, will put the spotlight on young designers: Aganovich, from London, and Anthony Vaccarello who was singled out for attention by Vogue's influential doorstep-thick September issue.

But from then on all fashionista eyes will be on a quatuor of classic houses - Balenciaga, Balmain, Celine and Givenchy - that have received a burst of fresh energy with the arrival of talented new designers.

At 88, Pierre Cardin is returning to the catwalks after a long absence, while fresh faces coming to Paris include the US designer Zac Posen, 29, and the New York-based duo Proenza Schouler, receiving on invitation-only.

Kenzo is marking its 40th birthday with a show at Paris' Winter Circus.

Other people to watch include Sarah Burton, who stepped up to replace Alexander McQueen following his suicide in February, and who is unveiling her first collection to the Paris crowd.

Britain's Giles Deacon is also showcasing his first collection for Ungaro while Jean-Paul Gaultier - with perhaps a touch of nostalgia - will unveil his last for Hermes, where he is handing over to Christophe Lemaire.

A Japanese trio - Junya Watanabe who claims US First Lady Michelle Obama among his fans, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto - join forces with Australia's Collette Dinnigan to defend Asia's colours in the world capital of fashion.

And French designer Roland Mouret who has bought back the rights to his own name, held since 2005 by his former financial partners, will show an eponymous collection - dropping the "RM by Roland Mouret" tag of past seasons.

The spring/summer 2011 fashion shows wrap up on Wednesday October 6 with collections by Hermes, Vuitton and Miu Miu, Prada's line launched to woo the young and wealthy crowd.

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