At Paris shows, fashion designers fret about Oscars

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By JOELLE DIDERICH

PARIS — Luxury brands Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani kicked off Paris couture week Monday with glittering displays, but many of the outfits may not get an airing on the most prestigious night of the year: the Academy Awards.

A strike by writers, entering its 12th week, already has forced the cancellation of the Golden Globe awards, and could lead to the Oscar ceremony — scheduled for Feb. 24 — being scrapped for the first time in its 80-year history.

The loss would be more than symbolic for global fashion brands, which reap millions of dollars of free publicity from media coverage of celebrities walking the red carpet.

New York-based luxury consultant Robert Burke said canceling the Oscars would impact not only designers, but also the magazines that devote pages to detailed analysis of who wore what.

‘‘The Oscars are such a good venue for exposure for luxury brands, and so it would certainly be missed,’’ he said. ‘‘It would not be a good situation for any parties.’’

Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of Dior, sought to play down the potential damage.

‘‘The Oscars are great, but it’s not the only time of the year that you see stars,’’ he said. ‘‘It would be good to sort it all out and let the Oscars go ahead, but it doesn’t represent a financial loss [for us].’’

Dior designer John Galliano, who has dressed Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman on Oscar night, sent out evening gowns and cocktail dresses sculpted from stiff silk satin in eye-popping shades of marigold, fuchsia, purple and lime.

Embroidered gold swirls and jeweled patchworks were inspired by the paintings of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. Pod-shaped jackets and pencil skirts evoked the silhouettes pioneered by couturier Cristobal Balenciaga in the 1960s — down to the oversized metallic domed hats.

Officials at Armani declined to comment on the strike. The Italian designer had reportedly made a custom dress for nominee Cate Blanchett, who is pregnant, and it may now go to waste.

Armani showed only a smattering of evening gowns, focusing instead on client-pleasing cocktail suits in feather-light layers of pastel organza scattered with oversized metallic sequins.

Fabrics were pleated and folded into intricate origami shapes, while necklines came adorned with huge crystal brooches.

‘‘Wow!’’ gushed front-row guest Hilary Swank as a model swept past in a see-through black gown embroidered with jet beads. The two-time Academy Award winner said she did not know if she would attend the ceremony if it goes ahead, but she did not elaborate.

Diane Kruger, who caught the Dior show, supported the strike.

‘‘There are no stories without writers, and I think they’re very underestimated and it’s a very just cause,’’ the ‘‘Troy’’ star said. ‘‘If anything, the actors want the same things, so it’s good that they fight for us and so we have to show solidarity.’’


AP

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on January 21, 2008 4:40 PM.

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