“We changed our name because no one could pronounce it,” says Pascal Morand, the executive president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, which, up until last year, had a 16-word title. Morand, together with president Ralph Toledano, is responsible for modernising the 150-year-old establishment that oversees and promotes the entire French fashion industry.
A key responsibility of the federation is to organise and stage one of the most important events on the fashion industry calendar: Paris Fashion Week (pfw). It is a considerable undertaking. There are three versions of PFW: men’s, women’s and haute couture with each one being staged twice a year. Aside from the leagues of fashion editors and photographers who have to be accredited, the federation has to determine the best running order for the shows. This is a feat of logistical genius: the official schedule for Spring/Summer 2019 has 80 launches.
But the job of promoting France’s apparel industry doesn’t stop at Paris Fashion Week. The most effective way to build a stronger fashion industry, Morand believes, is through education. “We need to put a high degree of dynamism within the system to make the whole French fashion system progress,” he says. The federation is currently working to establish new educational programmes with Morand’s old employer, the French Institute of Fashion (ifm).
What is Morand’s plan for the federation’s future? “Turning Paris into the world’s focal point for fashion education, linking culture, technical savoir-faire, creativity and technology,” he says. “This is the challenge conducted by Ralph Toledano and myself.”
Pascal Morand didn’t do a fashion degree. He has never designed a frock. Nor did he cut his teeth working in operations in one of the great maisons. Morand’s background is academia. Born in the Parisian suburbs, on his CV are some of the most prestigious schools in Europe. He was professor of economics at ESCP Europe Business School and a member of the National Academy of Technologies in France. He has been director-general of the French Institute of Fashion (IFM) and dean of ESCP Europe Business School. But since 2015 he has been the man tasked by Ralph Toledano – president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode – to act out the organisation’s grand ambition: to enhance, strengthen and promote the French fashion industry.