Two Indians and a Thai princess to show in Paris fashion week

PARIS, Sept 27, 2007 (AFP) - For the first time two Indian designers are unveiling their collections during the Paris ready-to-wear shows for next spring-summer, which get under way at the weekend.

Two other notable newcomers who stand out among the 90 catwalk presentations on the nine-day programme are Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, who is holding a gala evening at the historic Opera Garnier on Saturday evening, and Limi Feu, the daughter of the veteran Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, whose show is a week later.

The two Indians, Manish Arora and Ana Mika, have both defected from London to compete for attention with fashion's heavy hitters, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Gaultier.

Arora, who trained in India and set up his own label in 1997, has shown in the British capital for the past two years. This season the designer, who is popular with Bollywood actresses, decided to brave Paris because "it is a step closer to more buyers and the press".

He already has five shops under his own names in India and is distributed in 75 shops globally.

The Ana Mika label was created in London in 2004 by Anamika Khanna, who is entirely self-taught. The brand has 300 points of sale around the world.

Granddaughter of Thailand's Queen Sirikit, who was a devoted customer of Pierre Balmain, whom she met on an official visit to France in 1960, 20-year-old Princess Sirivannavari studied at a fashion and design school in Bangkok and has already signed two collections in the Thai capital.

Limi Feu set out working on her father's "Y" line in 1996 before presenting her own collection in Tokyo in 2000.

But the emotional high point of this season will be the final ready-to-wear collection by the Italian couturier Valentino, who has announced his retirement after 45 years in the business.

He is handing over the reins to Alessanda Facchinetti, who was creative director for women's wear at Gucci after Tom Ford's departure. She will show her first collection in January.

Notable absentees this time are the houses of Guy Laroche, Emanuel Ungaro and Cacharel.

Guy Laroche is having a "brainstorming" on its future, so a catwalk presentation at this turbulent time is out of the question, an insider told AFP, while Ungaro sacked its stylist Peter Dundas this summer because of poor results.

Cacharel also parted company in June with Inacio Ribeiro and Suzanne Clements, who wanted to concentrate on their own Clements Ribeiro label. The Spanish designer Estrella Archs, who is replacing them, will however present a collection under her own name, which may give a sneak preview of what she will do with Cacharel.

Other shows which fashion editors will be watching out for are the second collections of Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, Paulo Melim Andersson for Chloe and Dai Fujiawara for Issey Miyake.

by Dominique Schroeder

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