Ralph Toledano says Paris is the fashion capital “more than
The Federation added a day of shows after men’s week and on the eve of couture week. (This Sunday, Paco Rabanne, Patou and Alaïa staged shows.) “I have always recommended smaller brands not to show in October and March. Showing their collections earlier enables them to deliver on time, have good sell-through and increase the sales order book.”
Last year, Chanel and Saint Laurent, two prominent members, had a dispute over tweed suits. He dismisses tensions between competing houses within the Fédération. “Whatever is happening outside, when we enter a meeting, we forget which house we work for,” he says. “The key word is Paris.”
A point of pride is the recognition the Fédération has gotten from France’s political sphere during his tenure, Toledano says, citing the president of the Republic Emmanuel Macron welcoming designers twice at the Élysée Palace, First Lady Brigitte Macron attending the IFM students show on 20 June. “She spoke to all the students,” Toledano says. Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have committed to the fashion industry.
As for governance, Toledano implemented, for example, collegial processes to review applications to join the calendar. “For newcomers, decisions are made following advice from an expert committee including journalists and buyers. It’s very precious. It’s no longer someone at the Fédération who decides if brands like Bluemarble or Egonlab should be admitted.”
“One thing I am proud of is the feminisation of the Fédération,” he says citing executives Saint Laurent CEO Francesca Bellettini, Anouck Duranteau-Loeper, Celine CEO Séverine Merle and Rick Owens CEO Elsa Lanzo.
So what’s left to do? “I had and still have the dream of opening the doors and windows of the Fédération. Fédération must not be a kind of counter where you come every six months to ask for a better spot for the show. We must bring competent people from all horizons who work on projects with us. It should be a home of the fashion industry, for designers, producers, models, beauty professionals…the go-to place if I have an issue, if I have a project,” he says. “We are not there yet. It’s a work in progress.”
In the years to come, he predicts, a significant part of the Fédération’s activities will be to be present on a daily basis on topics like unsold products, sustainability, know-how and digitalisation. “We must be well-equipped and competent,” he says.
There’s also more effort to be made on the sustainability front. Last year, the Fédération launched a tool to measure the environmental impact of the shows. “We are in a test phase for the third season. We want to be sure 100 per cent of the reliability of the tool before publishing results. We want it to be irreproachable.”
It’s not a retirement. Toledano keeps his hats at Neo Investments Partners and Victoria Beckham, alongside being honorary president of the Fédération. “It’s a work of passion. My private and professional lives have always been intertwined with fashion in the centre,” he says.
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