Paris Fashion Week: The Shows Go On But Business Stalls + Some Buyers & Editors Flee Amid Coronavirus Fears

At Paris Fashion Week, there are two different stories to tell.

On Sunday, as the number of coronavirus cases in France rose and the famed Louvre closed amid the outbreak, several retailers and editors returned home. Fashion-goers fled as fears continued to escalate and U.S. travel restrictions are taking hold.

Showrooms and trade shows across the City of Light were quiet as many designers focused on sending high-quality photos and videos to buyers around the world who are sitting fashion week out.

By other accounts, however, it was a blockbuster Sunday. Power brands Balenciaga, Valentino and Givenchy all hit the runway. Kanye West held his popular church service for an enamored fashion crowd. (Kim Kardashian and sister Kourtney arrived at the event Instagram ready in on-trend latex ensembles straight off Balmain’s fall ’20 runway.)

balenciaga, fall 2020 , paris fashion week
Balenciaga’s fall ’20 extravaganza explored climate change.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Officially, there are two more days left on the Paris Fashion Week schedule, and buying appointments would typically extend into mid-March. But with many U.S. department stores and Asian retailers skipping Paris — and some European and Middle Eastern buyers also canceling trips — some showrooms reportedly have decided to close early.

There’s one thing everyone can agree on: Business is being hit hard, and it could get a lot worse.

Italy, which has been at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, is taking extraordinary measures to help offset the financial impact. Earlier in the day Sunday, the minister of the economy proposed a new stimulus package totaling 3.6 billion euros to help support sectors effected by the situation.

Meanwhile, global stock markets are bracing for more volatility in the week ahead after the coronavirus erased an estimated $3.18 trillion in market value from U.S. stocks last week.

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