ERIC CANTONA, the pride of Manchester United, did his bit on the Paris catwalks for the designer Paco Rabanne, wearing a series of linen suits in cream and navy. Cantona was shy before the show; the word was that there would be no interviews. The ladies of the fashion press were gutted.

There were enough British football supporters in the crowd to produce a chant of 'Ooh-Aah-Can-ton-a]', although it was not a patch on Old Trafford. Afterwards, the fashion crowd stormed the dressing room, where Cantona admitted he had enjoyed the experience. Mr Rabanne said he was 'over the moon', or something similar in French. David Bradshaw, fashion editor of Arena, the men's style magazine, commented: 'The boy done well.'

IT WILL be the biggest story in British fashion this autumn. Paul Smith's first collection for women is now complete and will be unveiled to the trade in October, although it will not be in the shops until next spring.

'It's on the way,' said Smith in Paris, very excited. 'We're expecting a hundred cartons from Italy any day now.'

The designer was relaxed about the move into womenswear - a huge gamble at a time of unease in the designer clothing industry. The accent is on sensible clothes that women will genuinely want to wear.

Designer tricks will be kept to a minimum. As Smith puts it: 'It's for women, not the catwalk.'

WHEN designers get bored, they usually get someone else to do the work for them but keep all the credit for themselves. It was refreshing, therefore, to witness Issey Miyake in Paris officially handing over the design of his menswear line to Naoki Takizawa.

Miyake, who is in London tomorrow to receive an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art, admits he would like more free time to himself.

Takizawa, 33, who has worked with Miyake since leaving design school, has injected new energy into the collection, showing parachute-cloth coats which fold into the pocket, soft washed-cotton basics, linen jackets coated with silicon to remove the wrinkles, and cotton shirts with random stripes printed using sponge rollers soaked with dye.

This was experimentation in the finest Miyake mould, all presented con brio by models and dancers from the Frankfurt Ballet.

INFLUENTIAL fashion personalities don't come much more unlikely than Gilbert & George. But Rei Kawakubo, the quixotic designer of Comme des Garcons, believes that the Gilbert & George trademark grey suit - the type that looks as if it was bought from Mister Byrite - is quite the latest thing for monsieur this season.

It was a provocative idea - but this time, at least, it has to be said that Ms Kawakubo has tried too hard to be at the forefront of the avant-garde. Even store buyers who have stocked her clothes for years were finding it hard to say anything complimentary.

THE OPENING of the Carrousel du Louvre, the much-touted underground venue for catwalk shows in Paris, has been postponed because construction work on the mammoth project is taking longer than expected.

Originally scheduled for completion in time for the October ready-to-wear shows, the auditoriums will not now be ready until November, which means they will be first put to use at the couture shows in January 1994.

(Photograph omitted)