A Fashion Eco-System on Edge as Shows Disappear

PARIS (Reuters) – When Swedish fashion brand Acne Studios last hosted a catwalk show in Paris in January, it ordered dozens of vegan-friendly rice bowls from cafe owner and caterer Pearlyn Lee for models and crew to pick on backstage.

Those types of orders have all but dried up since the pandemic forced most luxury labels to cancel parties and presentations. Even as some of the world’s biggest brands return to Paris on Monday, few are planning physical shows, a blow for make-up artists, lighting specialists, caterers and hundreds of other businesses in fashion’s eco-system. “Basically catering is gone for us. And I’m not sure when it’s coming back,” said Lee, who only last year expanded her kitchen through a crowdfunding campaign.

From Monday, 85 brands will showcase womenswear looks during Paris Fashion Week. Only 19 – among them Chanel and LVMH LVMH.PA owned Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton – are pressing ahead with socially-distanced front rows. Others are holding small presentations by appointment, or streaming videos. Fledgeling designers ca n not afford to hire big venues for tiny audiences or risk a last-minute cancellation, said Stephane Vienne, from production and press firm Mephistopheles.

None of Mephistopheles’ 14 most regular customers is staging full events next week. In a normal year, each event would have cost at least 30,000 to 40,000 euros. “We used to do four shows a day, our whole budget comes from these events,” Vienne told Reuters.

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