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Talk Stays Light at Men’s Runway Shows, but Hints of Paris’s Sorrow Linger

Posted by Mike Roston on

PARIS — “The show must go on” is a cliché as a rallying cry, but it was unusually apt this month as the fall 2015 men’s runway shows bore their durable way through the appointed cities on their round: first London; then Florence, Italy; then Milan and now Paris.

On Jan. 7, the armed gunmen Saïd and Chérif Kouachi entered the offices of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12. On Jan. 9, a related attack by Amedy Coulibaly, an associate of the Kouachis, including a hostage-taking at a kosher grocery, brought the death toll to 17. That day, as scheduled, the men’s season began in London. The shows that must go on went on.

The mood here in Paris now is one of quiet resilience, bordering, it seems, on the blasé. Though military officers with cartoon-size guns can be seen on certain streets, the police presence does not feel pronounced. To an outside observer, albeit a regular visitor, things seem much as they have ever been.

The quais of central Paris are quiet, though undercover police officers, one resident suggested, can sometimes be glimpsed. In the courtyard of the Louvre, lovebird pairs of moony tourists nuzzle as they nuzzled before.

Seen from a certain angle, soldiering on uninterrupted is a tribute and a duty.

“Expression is at the heart of everything this industry stands for,” Dylan Jones, the chairman of London Collections: Men, said in his opening remarks on Jan. 8 after expressing sympathy to the families and friends of the victims in Paris, “and without this freedom of expression, none of us would be here today.”

But it was, more or less, fashion’s last public expression of sympathy as the Paris attacks were scarcely mentioned in the days that followed. Casual conversations glided over them; travel plans and logistics seemed untaxed by them. It is just as much a cliché to say that the lingua franca of fashion is froth, but as the lot gossiped and kvetched, they rarely touched on the deeper topics.

“I was surprised not to hear much about the situation in Paris during the London shows,” said Andrew Weitz, a style consultant based in Los Angeles who this season was named a committee member of the British Fashion Council, the London collections’ organizing body.

“Maybe it’s only because fashion week is two weeks away from when London started and by the time the Paris shows begin, it will have been almost a month since the attacks, and people figure the city will be back to normal,” he said. “I don’t know.”

As the mass demonstration in the Place de la République lit up social media and major news outlets on Jan. 11 and the days that followed, the shows left London and rolled on to Italy.

“I think it brought people back together,” the D.J. Sebastien Perrin, who was born in Paris, said on Saturday, Milan’s opening day, before theCostume National show. He provided a rock soundtrack for that show.

Many photographs on Instagram were tagged #jesuischarlie, like the banner that still hangs in Paris at the local mayor’s office in the 11th Arrondissement, which includes the Charlie Hebdo offices. But by the end of the week, one Paris magazine editor described the effect of the attacks as a national hangover.

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