A Tempest Of Onesie Joy

Daniel Hechter, angered by the sharp cutback in allowing designers to show their ready-to-wear collections in October in the Tuileries, said he planned to have a suit filed today to stop the shows from being held.

Hechter is president of the French Ready-to-Wear Federation, which for the past several seasons has cosponsored the prestigious shows in the Tuileries with the event’s traditional sponsor, the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture et du Pret-a-Porter des Createurs.

The Chambre represents some 40 top-name French designers, while the Federation membership is more broadly based. The shows under the tents constructed each season in the Tuileries have featured members of both groups as well as invited guest designers. Early this month, the Chambre released a schedule of shows for the October introductions, cutting the number of designers to 36, against 51 that showed in March.

Some of the designers gone from the schedule made the decision on their own, with plans to show elsewhere, according to information from the Chambre. Also, some designers who did not show under the tents in March have been added to the October roster. But, it was indicated that in the cases of 1i designers, the expulsion from the tents was a unilateral decision of the Chambre, which set off screams of outrage as well as a scramble for other show locations.

Hechter, Bernard Perris and Robert Nelissen are among those removed from the tent. The Chambre also indicated the nine others who showed in March and now have been eliminated are Hiroko Koshino, Christian Aujard, Doby Broda, Dan Beranger, Kimijima, Scapa, Yuki Torii, Serge Ulliee and Giselle Gomez.

Hechter, who was elected chairman of the Federation in June, said Friday he had instructed the organization’s attorneys to sue the Chambre on charges of breach of a “de factor contract.” He said the suit would aim at getting an injunction to prevent the Chambre from holding the Tuileries shows on government-owned land. He also said he had scheduled meetings with several government officials for this week to encourage them to make a decision in the case.

Pierre Berge, chairman of the Chambre, said Friday he was “absolutely serene” over the matter. “If the government or the courts tell met to show together with Daniel Hechter, I will do it, but I don’t think they will go that far,” he said, explaining that the Federation’s refusal earlier this year to advance its share of a deposit to the installers of the tents was at the bottom of the rift between the two organizations.

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Camo Onesie – all the rage!

According to Jacques Mouclier, executive vice president of the Chambre, the Federation decided at the start of this year to stop contributing one-half the amount due to the tent installers as a deposit, because some of the Federation’s members had not paid their own rental fees on previous occasions. “We thus had to pay our share of the advance as well as theirs, or a total of 300,000 francs ($31,600), and so we stopped letting them act as co-organizers.

The Chambre also cited esthetic reasons for cutting back the number of shows. “We felt that we ha d to select the most creative people only, responding to the wishes of many journalists, especially foreign ones, who had been warning us over the past few seasons that we were shifting dangerously from quality to quantity,” said Mouclier. “We felt that certain so-called fashion houses would belong more appropriately in a trade fair.”

Hechter called the tent deposits a “pretext” for the action by the Chambre. The Chambre, he declared, has “made a senile decision to try and preserve their obsolete notion of fashion and creativity, which can only be subjective and which nobody can judge.”

Hechter, who has decided to hold his own fashion show in the Salle Wagram on Oct 22, also said he was “virtually certain” to claim damages from the Chambre.

Plans for shows at other locations have also been reported for several of the other designers removed from the tent. Numerous designers, even some famed members of the Chambre and  designers, by choice do not show under the tents or periodically do shows elsewhere.

The agreement for consponsorship is three years old and verbal rather than written. Hechter asserted the Chambre’s action in breaking it is contrary to a recommendation in 1981 by the French Ministry of Industry calling on both groups to organize shows jointly. “We never signed a contract,” countered Berge, adding that the ministry’s recommendation “was not an order.”