The Peculiar Problem with Paris

What do Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Balmain and Saint Laurent have in common? They're all huge fashion houses, yet none of them are due to live stream their collections. The sad fact is, is that I suspect snowboots and mittens will be on trend in hell before Chanel ever live streams.

Paris is commonly regarded as the biggest of the four fashion weeks, yet their choice of live streams doesn't reflect this - with around 15 shows expected to live stream from Paris, New York will have live streamed six times as many shows as Paris this season.

One of the reasons so many shows live stream from New York, London and Milan is because each of these cities offer their own live streaming coverage. Paris' fashion council - the catchily-named Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers and Créateurs de Mode - doesn't offer this.

But beyond this, not many designers have taken the initiative either.

The question as to why is a bit harder to answer. Paris isn't a third-world country - it has both the technical and financial capabilities to live stream. London Fashion Week is a far smaller enterprise than Paris yet pound-for-pound offers many, many more live streams.

And that is probably the crux of the matter - London has more to gain from live streaming than Paris.

If London Fashion Week were a guy, and went to a party, he'd be there in his colourful ensemble, inviting himself into people's conversations and telling them how he's going to be the next big thing.

But Paris Fashion Week... if he were a guy? He'd be there in his well-pressed shirt wistfully gazing from the shadows drinking expensive champagne. He'd keep himself to himself and would conduct himself with a quiet restraint; he oozes confidence but doesn't need to say a word.

The colourful jock might be the centre of attention, but the mysterious gentleman in the corner says it best when he says nothing at all. His understated confidence has an allure that stirs people's curiosity.

Ultimately, Paris enjoys its exclusivity, and it seems their opinion of live streams is that it somehow cheapens what is a week for a privileged few. Of course, it extends beyond live streaming. Parisian designers are stubborn when it comes to embracing the internet.

You only have to look through designers' websites and social media pages to understand how behind Paris is in terms of taking advantage of the digital era. As previously mentioned I go through many hundreds of websites during Fashion Month.

On Facebook, Celine's page hasn't been updated for well over a year. Dries van Noten hasn't updated theirs since 2011. Incredibly, Rick Owens has been on Facebook since 2008, and despite having 68,000 page likes, has never been updated.

Meanwhile, on Google you'll see designers' websites languishing well down in the search results. Visit some of them and the dated web designs will make you feel like you've accidentally driven your DeLorean into 1985. Some designers don't even have a website.

Evidently, the value of the internet in Paris is much less than, for example, in New York.

The first designer to break rank and live stream from Paris was Mugler. The second time they live streamed was groundbreaking in that it live streamed not only their show, but fittings, rehearsals, interviews and backstage coverage.

Interestingly, their offering over the years has been fairweather at best, and they've not live streamed for a few seasons now. It would be interesting to know whether this is symptomatic of Paris' nonchalance towards live streaming content as it seems Mugler have decided there's no commercial benefit to broadcasting their shows.

Another interesting example is Acne Studios. At the point they moved from London to Paris, they no longer live streamed their show.

Despite this bleak netscape, there is hope. Let's not forget that several large designers do live stream; Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton have both become Paris Fashion Week live stream staples.

Spring/Summer 2011 looked to be bit of a watershed season with several designers stepping up to the plate with Balenciaga and Christian Dior amongst the big hitters to finally embrace live streaming. I genuinely believed cracks were appearing in the dam and other designers would follow. But largely, they haven't.

I believe for live streaming to become 'cultural' at Paris, it needs to be a collaborative effort. At the moment designers seem unconvinced of the benefits of live streaming. Like the other three fashion weeks, hopefully soon the Paris fashion council can get behind the idea of live streaming, encourage designers to live stream their shows too.

You might not realise this, but a lot of live streams from different designers are produced by the same companies. Hopefully one of these content delivery companies can break the back of the anti-streaming stigma and allow the great unwashed a live glimpse into the world of Paris Fashion Week.

Until then, I'll make sure I visit every mothballed Facebook page and outdated website to make sure you're informed of every live stream I can find.

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