IN JANUARY the Paris fashion shows will be broadcast live to the United States for the first time, starting with the haute couture collections. This has led to speculation that some Americans in the industry might stop coming to France. The collections, presented in four purpose-built halls in the just-opened Carrousel du Louvre underneath the museum, will be transmitted to giant screens in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Chicago Apparel Centre and Royce Hall at UCLA in Los Angeles.
The Paris communications group H D Mode has been given the contract to broadcast the event and has invested dollars 2.5m in the initial four- day transmission. Journalists, buyers and clients on the other side of the Atlantic will pay dollars 1,600 to see the Paris show broadcast direct.
Tokyo will be linked up for the July collections, and if the project is a success Hong Kong, Seoul and South America may follow. From now on, 6,000 people instead of the usual 1,000 will view the collections (10,000 once Toyko is included). The expected dollars 1m in revenue will be shared between the 18 fashion houses participating.
Not everyone is jubilant. Chanel and Cardin have refused to allow their shows to be broadcast. Both feel the risk of pirating will be greater, especially if pret-a-porter collections are broadcast in future. For Cardin, the protection of its brand name is paramount. 'To give someone the possibility to copy a dress the day after it's created is too handsome a present,' said a spokesman. Jacques Mouclier of the Chambre Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter des Couturiers et des Createurs de Mode (longtime organisers of the Paris shows) denies that Americans might be tempted to skip the Paris shows if they can see them at home. 'Americans without money or who are short of time will watch in the States, but we've made studies and those who always come to Paris will continue to do so,' he said.
IN AMERICA, Vogue and Elle magazines have new ploys to increase downmarket circulation. Elle is following supermarkets such as KwikSave and introducing 50 per cent off coupons in national newspapers. Vogue is employing 160 trucks, with side panels promoting this month's issue, to cruise around New York.
IF FASHION dies young, as Jean Cocteau said, then it is surely reborn many times, as Vanites - an exhibition of fashion photographs dating from the 19th century to the present day - testifies. This launch show of the new National Centre of Photography in Paris includes prints by Irving Penn, Norman Parkinson, Helmut Newton and many other greats. Of interest, too, is the 1909 Seeberger Brothers' photo showing a woman at the Auteuil racetrack wearing a very 1990s silk- beaded apron dress, layered over a linen dress. Another vintage print shows a model in a floor- length pleated dress, gathered in folds at the back, looking like half the items coming down the Paris catwalks this year. Shame, however, that Cecil Beaton and David Bailey weren't included. (Vanites, Fondation de Rothschild, 11 rue de Berryer, 75008 Paris. Tel: 010 331 53 76 12 31. Metro George V. Until 7 February 1994. Every day except Tuesday, 12 noon-7pm.)
Elsewhere in Paris, Grain de Beaute ('Beauty Spot'), an exhibition dedicated to a century of posters for beauty products, is at Bibliotheque Forney, in the medieval Hotel de Sens, one of the oldest houses in Paris. (Grain de Beaute, 1 Rue du Figguier, 75004 Paris. Tel: 010 331 42 78 14 60. Metro Pont-Marie or Saint Paul. Until 11 December. Tuesday to Saturday, 1.30pm-8pm.)
Just started is Artisans de L'elegance, a look behind the scenes at the methods and skills of craftsmen dedicated to fashion through the ages. (Musee des Arts et Traditions Populaires, 6 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris. Tel: 010 331 44 17 60 00. Metro Sablons. Until 16 May 1994. Every day except Tuesday. 10am-5.15pm.)
MEN'S SHOE designer Oliver Sweeney is introducing his diffusion range, Sweeney's, to Harvey Nichols. 'I never want to be out of touch with what people want,' he says. And to prove it, he is starting work there as 'Saturday boy' one day a week. Prices range from pounds 105 to pounds 130.
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