Oscar de la Renta announced last June that he will premiere his fall '91 collection in Paris, not New York.
This week he was in Los Angeles, talking about how plans are progressing.
"I'm terrified," he said. But that doesn't seem to be slowing him down. He just got a report from his business partner, Jack Alexander, who went to view the Paris shows in October and picked up a few tips:
* Paris shows require more clothes. The runways are twice as long as those in New York, the ceilings are twice as high. He showed 97 pieces in New York this fall, but plans to show at least 150 outfits in Paris next spring.
* Shows start late because everyone uses the same three fashion runways and the same models. In New York, De la Renta shows are seldom more than 10 minutes off schedule.
* It takes twice as many models to work a Paris show. He will need about 40 women in Paris, only 18 in New York.
But, he said, "the big difference between shows in Paris and New York is that Paris is so much better organized. The French government understood a long time ago (that) fashion is an important export."
The government gives financial support to fashion week and allows the designers to hold shows under three temporary tents set up in a courtyard of the Louvre, which is owned by the French government. In New York, designers show in their own buildings or in hotel ballrooms throughout the city.
In truth, De la Renta was motivated to make his move by other factors: "I would like to expand my market. I want to sell in Europe and be competitive with European designers." Now, his ready-to-wear is available in England and Germany on a limited basis. His fragrances, which he promoted this week at Nordstrom in Santa Barbara and Bullock's in Costa Mesa, are sold worldwide.
By next March, he plans to increase his European manufacturing from 25% to about 60%. He will continue to manufacture the same collections in the U.S.
"I'm ambitious," De la Renta said, admitting that he imagines his Paris shows will become regular events because more European and Asian store buyers shop there than in New York.
And he predicts that other American designers will soon join him in Paris. In fact, the American Embassy in Paris has already contacted De la Renta about a show it wants to sponsor during the March press week; six American designers would be featured. De la Renta, however, declined the offer to be included.