The opening of Luke Leitch’s review of Olivier Theyskens Spring/Summer 2018 show for Vogue was interesting. It reads as follows: “For Saint Laurent to decree that the doors of its Eiffel Tower–backdrop spectacular show would close just 45 minutes after Olivier Theyskens’s much more modest offering was due to begin—30 minutes-ish across town at the tail end of rush hour—it was, of course, at liberty to do. Yet the act lacked fraternity. Because forced to choose between the two labels—one huge, one not—many editors regretfully bent to inequality.”
Mr. Leitch – who managed to make it to both shows – continued on to note in the early portion of his review, which regarded Mr. Theyskens’ third recent solo outing as a success, “With great sangfroid, Theyskens, preshow, declared himself unperturbed as his team said he would have to start at ‘7:00 p.m., 7:05 max’—the better to allow those who did keep the faith to rush from the Marais” to the site of Saint Laurent's show.
The stage-setting review shed light on what has been a mounting rumor over the past few days: That YSL – ahead of its Spring/Summer 2018 Saint Laurent show on Tuesday – was asking the press to skip the smaller, independent Olivier Theyskens’ show, which was scheduled to directly precede its own show.
(Note: Some have argued that the Paris-based stalwart used its power as a mega-advertiser – in both print and digital – to sway show-goers’ in its favor. It is worth stating that given YSL's longstanding position as one of the most prominent in Paris (and thus, the inherent draw of its seasonal runway shows), there does not appear to be much merit to this on its face).
One Hour and a Whole Lot of Chatter
Olivier Theyskens’ show – where the benches were noticeably less packed than usual – was scheduled for 6:00 pm, whereas Saint Laurent was slated just one hour later across town.
In speaking to TFL exclusively on Thursday, Laurence Sudre-Monnier, who serves as a director for the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, said that while the timing of the two shows created a “risk” that resulted in some industry insiders choosing to only attend YSL (what if there was traffic?), it was, in fact, “possible to attend both shows, but only if one acted very, very quickly.”
Ms. Sudre-Monnier noted that Mr. Theyskens, whose show was not added until the official S/S 2018 calendar until two days before it was finalized by the Fédération, “was made aware of the strict scheduling demands of Saint Laurent," which set forth such a timeline in order to align the opening of its show with the commencement of the Eiffel Tower’s evening sparkling. Mr. Theyskens decided to show during that time and at his specified location, nonetheless, starting promptly to avoid further complications for show-goers.
According to Ms. Sudre-Monnier, the Fédération, itself – which is the organizing body for Paris Fashion Week – “works very hard to avoid scheduling conflicts and certainly does not want to force people to make a choice [between shows].” She says that YSL confirmed its plans to close the doors of its venue at 7:45pm in advance, with YSL representatives telling the Fédération that the scheduling was due to a “very special” event for the Spring/Summer 2018 season.
Ms. Sudre-Monnier says she is “not aware” that representatives for YSL - who found no need to comment beyond Ms. Sudre-Monnier's clarifications - had forced show-goers to choose between attending its show and Theyskens’ show.
What appeared to be little more than unfounded industry rumors of scheduling strife escalated later in the week when Theyksens’ public relations team sent an email to various publications stating, "We have been very sorry to hear that people have been warned about the closing doors of the next show at 7:45, and we deplore this tricky situation.”
The brand continued on to note, “We would be very happy to welcome them to our studio for a re-see of the collection, in presence of Monsieur Olivier Theyskens. Would they like to?”
No Ill Will
The PR email comes on the heels of reports that the Theyskens team was said to be looking to file a complaint with the Fédération and that YSL's demands were indicative of a larger group of big brands in Paris. Although, according to the Fédération, no such complaint has been filed.
Ms. Sudre-Monnier further held that “there was no intention from YSL to hurt Olivier Theyskens and no intention from Theyskens to hurt YSL” in regards to the scheduling.
In terms of Theyskens' stance, a representative for the brand told TFL, “We are not going to file a complaint, as this would go against the fraternity in the industry. At this point we are focusing on our retrospective in Antwerp, which is launching October 12th and will see about this matter at a later date.”
As for what will occur next season, Ms. Sudre-Monnier says there are plans in the works. One of the proposed scheduling solutions includes potentially beginning the Paris shows a day earlier (as long as that is acceptable with the Milan calendar), as Simon Porte Jacquemus did this season. The young designer, who last season, was in what Wallpaper recently deemed to be the “cursed … show spot immediately before Saint Laurent,” showed on Tuesday evening this season.
As Wallpaper noted this week, “Last season, guests failed to make it on time due to the long distance between the Jaquemus and [YSL shows],” prompting Jacquemus to move his show to the day before.
With such conflicts in mind, it seems the Fédération has at least one scheduling kink to work out ahead of new season. But do not fret, the organizers will find a way to make it all work. Ms. Sudre-Monnier says, “We have six months to work on this and we will work on this.”