Getting to Paris Fashion Week, One Step at a Time…
She is Alice in Fashionland – a young designer lost in the surreal, magic world of French fashion.
Christine Philip, an up-and-coming Indian-American fashion designer, had always been enamored of Paris and its legacy of ground-breaking fashion. This season she basked in the unparalleled world of French style, soaking in the rhythms and romance of Parisian haute couture. Shows that she attended included Corrie Nielson, Issay Miyake, Chanel, Hermes, YDE, Chloe, Amaya Arzuaga, and Fatima Lopez.
Not totally an insider, this young designer reveled in her entre to a fabulous world. She says: “Paris produces ‘the mother’ of all fashion weeks. There is no other fashion capital that does it like they do and I wanted to be a part of it. The energy and elegance that I was fortunate to be a part of was an incredible experience.”
Philip has been in the fashion industry for almost 8 years, and now has immersed herself in the scene, having lived 2-3 months every year in Paris. She says: “Paris is a great city for luxury labels, luxury goods, luxury men’s and womenswear – because Parisians like quality, minimalism, classic pieces. I would love to have a base here as well.”
6 Questions for Designer Christine Philip
1. Describe your experiences at Paris Fashion Week.
Paris Fashion Week (PFW) is the ‘mother’ of all fashion weeks and has the most glamorous fashion scene – it’s a different animal. I secretly wish I were Parisian! I can also say that this atmosphere is just like it is portrayed in the movies. The fashion shows, events, the soirées, the who’s who, the people, the fashion, the street style on display – it is a very glamorous time. There are at least 2-3 soirées every night during Fashion week- some of them invitation-only, or from a magazine. ‘Porter’ and ‘Vogue Germany’ had two of the biggest soirées this year. I never had a proper opportunity to explore this scene before since I was working in banking in London, and before that in NYC.
After living in NYC, London, and Paris and attending fashion weeks in all three cities – I feel Paris has the most elegant venues and a glamorous fashion scene, in my opinion. It’s no wonder many actresses, models, and designers live here. In the building I live in, my neighbor on my right is actress/ Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko. She was telling me how she moved here from Ukraine since the age of 14 – it is her base and home for her. She does travel a lot for filming, and just returned from LA Oscars.
2. Tell me about your company and how it’s involved in Paris.
I launched a menswear line called ‘Made-Of-Stone’; it is the world’s first bespoke company to construct gentlemen’s dress shirts embellished with precious and semi-precious stones. It is the men’s division of my CP Fusao label.
I held mini events for private clientele during Paris Fashion Week in luxury hotels around the city. I chose Paris to launch because this city resonates with luxury. To dress Parisian means you dress in ‘investment’ pieces, high quality, minimalistic yet classic. Silk, linen, cashmere adorned with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds- that is what we presented, and the Parisians loved it.
3. During the fashion week, were you in the official set up with all the designers?
Not yet, because I was launching menswear- perhaps in June when Paris shows menswear collections. Nevertheless, I was personally invited to the Fall Winter shows by the major fashion houses and private labels because I reached out to them. It was important for me to attend the shows and view the collections so I can see upcoming trends and colors for autumn/fall 2014.
There is no other fashion capital that does it like they do and I wanted to be a part of it. I was happy to leverage this time to launch my menswear label. The energy and elegance that I was fortunate to be a part of was an incredible experience.
4. How was your menswear collection received?
Amazing. We garnered interest from several press and buyers. But it was more important for me to garner interest from individual customers, as we love doing bespoke (made-to-measure) pieces to truly fit the man, which is what we accomplished as well. Who knows, we might do a city tour since we got a great response! Men can also customize their shirts online and have it to their door in less than 4 weeks. The shirts are priced from $300 to $600 on average, with the ’Caviar’ collection extending upwards of $200,000.
5. How hard is it to get invited to the showings and how easy is it to get the ear of buyers?
Extremely difficult. To attend fashion weeks, you have to get accredited- in the case for Paris Fashion Week, you have to talk with the “Mode à Paris Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode”. You also have to have a Parisian address, or they won’t even consider inviting you.
As far as the ear of buyers, that also is extremely difficult, because styles and trends are always changing, and they see to the larger fashion houses, or ‘Maisons’ first and foremost – Chanel, Valentino, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, YSL, Givenchy, Lanvin. But it is definitely a plus to get your brand in the official fashion week schedule.
There were tons of other emerging designers that held shows throughout fashion week that were not even on the roster or even in the design showrooms that coincides with Fashion Week – but somehow, they gathered press through word of mouth. It’s about getting your name out there, press and buyers, the more they hear your name, the more they ask questions and garner interest.
6. So what are your plans for the future?
A goal of mine would definitely be to immerse my label in the Paris Fashion and Couture scene – for both my menswear and womenswear because both my labels have higher price points and this city resonates with luxury. I would even be happy just attaining a handful of private clientele in this city!