Brexit, not the clothes, are the talk of Paris Fashion Week

June 24, 2016

460xPARIS (AP) — The British vote to leave the European Union and not the clothes were the talk of the front row crowd at menswear shows in Paris on Friday.

It started at Maison Margiela, a house for whom Briton John Galliano is at the creative helm, one of many examples of cross-pollination in European fashion.

Galliano was not present at the somber show, with some fashion insiders commenting that the slow-beat Leonard Cohen soundtrack aptly defined the mood of many British attendees, all of whom The Associated Press spoke to were opposed to a British exit, or Brexit.

 ”It’s terrible,” repeated several top British fashion editors at the show in the storied Latin Quarter in Paris.

Fashion is one of the global industries where Britons are at the forefront of power and influence — and so the Brexit vote was of particular interest. The most French of industries — haute couture — was even invented by an Englishman, Charles Frederick Worth, in the 19th century.

Arguably the most powerful person in the industry is London-born U.S. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, sister of the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour. The Guardian, which has a big online presence, urged people to vote against Brexit.

Vogue’s number two, Grace Coddington is also British and part of a fashion galaxy that include myriad designers. In addition to Galliano, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, Celine’s Phoebe Philo and Chloe’s Clare Waight Keller are among high-profile British artistic directors of Paris-based houses.

At Givenchy’s show the chatter continued.

Flaunt Magazine editor Long Nguyen compared those who voted for Brexit to supporters of U.S. presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“It’s a look inward instead of outward like those in the U.S. thinking he (Trump) will make America great again,” said Nguyen, borrowing from Trump’s campaign slogan.

Many British fashion insiders who work in Milan and Paris rely on the European Union’s tenet of free movement for their jobs.

One fashion industry professional arriving on the Eurostar at Paris’ Gare du Nord, Simon See, expressed concern that his job freedoms would suffer.

“It affects my trade already. I’m here for Paris Fashion Week and to sell and I came out here nervous now instead of optimistic which I usually am,” he said.

“Every one of my friends who is here doing a show… here with their brands from small to medium size businesses are extremely worried…. we’re nervous now about the future.”


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