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Bye, bye London: British fashion star Green makes his Paris debut

[PARIS] Brexit hasn't happened yet, but the fashion exodus has already begun. Craig Green, the rising star of British fashion who has won menswear designer of the year three out of the last four years, is quitting London to show in Paris for the first time.

He is one of four newcomers to a jam-packed Paris men's fashion week, which kicks off Monday.

With 53 runway shows in the official programme and just as many presentations outside, the French capital now utterly dominates fashion while Brexit-hit London, Milan and New York fall away in its wake.

The British Fashion Council and Italy's Chamber of Fashion joined forces to bring 10 emerging British designers and three established names to the Italian fashion capital last week as a "bridge between nations" as Britain's January 31 exit from the EU loomed.

"It's a political message... Too many frontiers aren't good for the fashion system," said Italy's Carlo Capasa, head of the Italian chamber.

Yet there is no disguising that both London and Milan are struggling for relevance in the face of the Parisian steamroller, which gets longer and more crowded every season.

- Paris domination -

Poaching 34-year-old Green -- who has been hailed as a "true genius" -- is another coup for Paris. He will show on Sunday, the final day of the menswear shows alongside two other British brands, Dunhill and Paul Smith.

Vogue has described the Londoner, who created the costumes for Ridley Scott's 2017 blockbuster "Alien: Covenant", as "without contest, one of the most important designers working in London right now."

Known for his gender-neutral style, he cut his teeth working for the hugely influential Belgian avant-gardist Walter Van Beirendonck, one of the "Antwerp Six", that included such trendsetters as Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela.

Three other debutants join Green on the official Paris catwalk, led by Botter, run by the Dutch eco-conscious couple Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, who also design for the French label, Nina Ricci.

Another French house Rochas will launch its first Paris menswear collection with the punky US brand Rhude the first of the newcomers out of the traps for its show Monday.

But there are also some notable absences, including Demna Gvasalia, who has probably done more to shake up Paris fashion in the last five years than anyone else.

He has also stepped back from designing for Vetements, the uber cool brand he founded before taking the reins at Balenciaga.

His rebel spirit and post-Soviet grunge aesthetic so beloved of US stars like Kanye West and Rihanna is likely to live on, as is his brand's penchant for hijacking corporate logos for cutting social comment.

- Abloh returns -

Celine's Hedi Slimane will also not be there, preferring to show his men's line with the women's in a co-ed Paris show next month.

The hyperactive American designer Virgil Abloh is back, however, for his Off-White and Louis Vuitton shows after being forced to curb his manic globe-trotting schedule in September because of "health considerations".

That meant him missing his Off-White women's show in the French capital.

But there were no signs that he was slowing up, teasing his new looks to his millions of social media followers, as well an exhibition of his art in a Paris gallery.

Over the New Year he predicted the eventual death of streetwear -- the fashion sub-genre of which he is one the kings.

"I would definitely say it is gonna die," he said. "It's time will be up... how many more T-shirts can we own, how many more hoodies, how many mores sneakers?" he asked.

But he later clarified his comments, saying, "What we do is called design, it is not limited to being called 'streetwear'.

"The moral of the story is beware of whatever box you are labelled as. Challenge it, defy it, do not be defined by it," Abloh added.

AFP