- AFP |
Security is being bolstered at the Paris fashion shows which opens on Wednesday following the deadly Islamist attacks in the French capital and European swoops on other suspected jihadists.
Celebrities and others attending the event were reported to be skittish over security at the globally mediatised shows, which run to January 29. Several fashion-watching outlets were rattled by a report on the New York Post's Page Six website that cited anonymous organisers saying that "security issues" were keeping VIPs away from the catwalks' front-row seats.
Middle Eastern clients who often spend big on Paris's Haute Couture creations were said to be especially reluctant. The Federation Francaise de la Couture, the body behind the Paris fashion shows, did not respond directly to AFP queries on the issue.
But a statement given to the fashion houses taking part said "simple logistical measures" must be implemented "to reassure those attending the shows and those participating in them." They included heightened checks on those holding invitations for the shows and bag inspections. Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed across Paris to reinforce security in the wake of the attacks in the city.
Paris on high alert
French authorities and counterparts in Belgium and Germany have in the past few days arrested dozens of Islamist suspects. There are concerns that some of the thousands of radicalised young Europeans believed to have gone to Iraq, Syria and Yemen to fight alongside the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda linked groups could return to their home countries to launch attacks.
Those fears were renewed by a gunbattle between police and well-armed suspected jihadists in Belgium on Friday that left two of the suspects dead and a third wounded. Britain was considering extra measures to give its police better protection. The Paris fashion shows are seen as a high point of the European catwalk calendars, following shows in London and Milan.
The event usually attracts high-profile show business names. Last year actresses Liv Tyler and Marion Cotillard put in appearances, while reality star Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West stole a lot of attention. The shows start on Wednesday with five days of menswear collections unveiled by the likes of Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo and Hermes.
Then on January 26, events kick into top gear with four more days of Haute Couture fashion including the latest from top brands Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Dior. Gaultier and his staff put a picture online of them holding up the "Je Suis Charlie" ("I Am Charlie") sign expressing solidarity and defiance after the January 7 attack on the satirical French weekly that killed 12 people.
The flamboyant French designer's latest show will be his first since he bowed out of ready-to-wear fashion last September in order to concentrate on couture. Fashion industry journal Women's Wear Daily, meanwhile, quoted Chanel stylist Karl Lagerfeld saying that French authorities will have to cope with people viewing Paris as a more dangerous place. "I think it's very bad for the image of Paris," Lagerfeld told the site. (Marc Burleigh, AFP)