Rebuilding Paris: Fashion Industry Shows Solidarity, Resiliency
After one of the most grueling weekends in Paris’ history, stores have reopened. and Parisians resumed their routine commutes this week. Through the resiliency, the ripple of grief was transparent in the French Capital, and the weight of the loss heavy on the hearts of the fashion community. In the city that thrives as the world’s fashion hub, an anticipated strong retail season was throttled in the wake of violence. Despite the veering holidays, the streets are graver than usual.
At noon this past Monday, the city fell quiet to pay homage to the 129 victims murdered by ISIS. People gathered at the Sorbonne to commemorate them, and later in the afternoon President François Hollande spoke at the Palais of Versailles, declaring that “France is at war.” With solemn words, he highlighted the French will to destroy ISIS, a will that is now stronger than ever, and seeking greater international backing. The speech that began in diplomacy and strategy ended in the heart-felt words of Hollande, who called for French strength and solidarity, and for the community as a whole to “continue to work, go out, live and influence the world.” ISIS may be the root of a shattering tragedy, but “they will never prevent us from continuing to live fully, freely.”
The solidarity was visceral, and the strength of the city pure. Echoed in the words of Hollande, the fashion community heeded wise words and returned to the day-to-day, much like the rest of Paris, as WWD reports. From Zac Posen to Ralph Lauren, industry giants responded with respect and grace across Twitter and Instagram. Barney’s and Vera Wang showed their love for their city across platforms, and Jean Paul Gaultier and Baccarat wiped their event calendars clean in a concerted effort to curb security threats.
— Ralph Lauren (@RalphLauren) November 14, 2015
Throughout the community, designers postponed release dates and press conferences.
— Vera Wang (@VeraWangGang) November 14, 2015
Lines still snake out the doors of Chanel and Saint Laurent, but the “the general mood is not good,” a Galeries Lafayette spokesperson told WWD. Guards stand fixed by the doors and street corners, entrance and exits are limited, and security runs the length of major Paris streets. Shoppers have been routinely asked to empty the contents of their bags, pull up the arms of their sleeves, and comply with other safety precautions. Outside, street merchants are scarce, and the annual Christmas markets are closed by official decree. Rattled by terror, the nervous apprehension is quietly accepted and understood.
According to the New York Times, the current state of emergency in Paris, a city dependent on its retail industry, is bound to cast a shadow over the market. International threats are bad for travel, and the Paris fashion industry garners roughly 40% of its business from traveling shoppers. Plagued by a stunted influx of tourism, plateaued employment rates, and the refugee crisis rippling through Western Europe, the luxury market is caught in the crosshairs of security, travel, and business concerns.
The long term effects are difficult to predict, and holiday shopping concerns are minor details under the prevailing shock of the weekend. But in the words of French singer, Shy’m, in a response to the Times, “what has happened to France and humanity is unspeakable and unbearable, but it is out of the question to hole up and stay silent.”
Images via New York Times, CNN, SnappedThis.