One thing is for sure. Federation Francaise de la Couture president Didier Grumbach has thrown open the doors once so tightly closed to American designers. Ralph Rucci was the first American to show during Couture Week with his “Balenciaga Meets American Sportswear” collection, and it was more or less well received. But American sportswear is at the opposite end of Paris atelier concepts, and “Made to Measure” is not exactly the way couture is thought of in France. Donna Karan was a guest at Federation social events held during Couture Week, looking wistful and girlish, while French heavyweights like Christian Lacroix and Pierre Hardy were holding court. Now that Oscar de la Renta has retired at Balmain, (and I am thinking of him as an American), who else is there who could thrive in Couture? Geoffrey Beene would have been a revelation. But as my French colleagues are always asking me what young American designers could do Couture, I would like to pose the question now.
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