MILAN — With shots of bold color on the catwalk, Milan Fashion Week injected a sense of optimism into the spring season.

Buyers praised the punchy prints, fine craftsmanship and bohemian spirit that characterized many of the collections, citing Prada, Jil Sander and Dolce & Gabbana among standouts. “It’s clear that the big Yves Saint Laurent retrospective that ended in Paris in August had a big impact,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. That was reflected in the strong Seventies trend, with maxiskirts and dresses, peasant blouses and a focus on vibrant color.

Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Canada’s Holt Renfrew, said the best collections pointed the way to a new casual wave in fashion.

“The 21st century luxury customer now lives a life less focused on formalwear and more focused on a relaxed, active lifestyle,” she said.

This season’s longer schedule also gave buyers time to check out emerging talents at events such as the “Who Is on Next?” showcase co-sponsored by Vogue Italia, and the city’s fashion trade fairs, including White, Touch, neoZone and cloudnine.

Here is what buyers had to say:

Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager, women’s and men’s apparel, Printemps
“Color is back, with very saturated shades that are sometimes so intense they border on fluorescent. There is also a strong trend toward floral prints, and Milan has confirmed the white trend we saw a lot of in New York. When you see black, it tends to be head-to-toe. The other noteworthy trend is a return to a type of femininity and softness in the shapes and textures, with fabrics like crepe de chine and lightweight cotton. Broderie anglaise is a strong trend, both on the catwalk and in showrooms. Our budgets are on the rise. With fashion undergoing a renewal, women will want to update their wardrobes, so we are optimistic.” Standout collections: Prada, Jil Sander and Dolce & Gabbana.

Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction, Holt Renfrew
“Milan has proven to be a powerfully optimistic season of bold color and print, remarkable craftsmanship, new longer hemlines and simple shapes that we are confident will drive customers into the stores. Bold color, tribal influences, bohemian Seventies, fringe, longer lengths and floral prints are some of the key trends that will impact the clothes for spring. The designer business is on an upward trend with many collections experiencing double-digit growth. Our budgets reflect this growth, while at the same time we are keeping our inventories in line for spring, having successfully right-sized our business last season. Our shopping list includes easy toppers, flared pants, the longer-length skirt and dress, soft blouses and tunics and simple, easy jackets. The longer week has provided the opportunity to visit the many new stores in Milan in search of new concepts and spend more time with new designers. Our eyes are on MSGM, Vincenzo De Cotiis, Drome and Isabella Tonchi.”
Standout collections:
Gucci, Prada, Jil Sander, Dolce & Gabbana and Brunello Cucinelli.

Maiko Shibata, women’s buyer, Restir, Tokyo

“Milan is kind of an established fashion market, ruled by king Armani, queen Versace, D&G, Gucci. We need something new to explore new types of fashion. Vogue magazine has started to support new designers, and I think that’s the great step for young creativity.” Restir’s budgets for Milan are down. “The reason is that Giambattista Valli and Valentino show their collections in Paris, and I can’t find any new talent to go with this season’s feeling. But I hope to add more next season. Every product has to have a message or strong identity. For example, Carmina Campus has a strong policy to support the environment which can’t be copied by Zara and H&M.”

Raya Dernaika, co-owner of Plum, Beirut
“Italian designers are going back to sensuality: It’s a new trend which is positive for our store. We needed a change, as buyers and customers alike are fed up with grunge and military looks. I really liked Jil Sander — everybody could see how different the mood was.”

Ken Downing, senior vice president, fashion director, Neiman Marcus
“It was very exciting: bold color, bordering on neon, and all of the bohemian, romantic spirit is very appealing as well. I feel the maxiskirt and the maxidress will be an important trend. White will be equally important, as well as lace, stripes and floral prints. The houses have also upped the craftsmanship, which is something you look for in Milan.” Standout collections: Jil Sander, Prada, Pucci, Versace and Gucci.

Leonardo Girombelli, brand manager,, owned by Italian e-tailer Yoox
“I noticed in general a modern, confident, fluid and more relaxed approach. Silhouettes were longer, volumes were simpler and less close to the body, with sack shapes, therefore more easy and comfortable. Colors were vivid, energetic and not shy at all with blue, magenta, grass green and orange in strong accents. I liked the idea of strongly pushing sportswear and playing with it, as seen at Marni. I particularly appreciated the work of Raf Simons for Jil Sander for his supermodern vision that pushed sportswear close to couture, for the proportions and the sharp contrasts between strong yet sophisticated colors.”

Colleen Sherin, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
“Milan has offered a solid fashion season, infused with new ideas that will entice women to shop. The explosion of bright, vibrant color was a welcome jolt to the season, and the bold colorblocking. The Seventies trend continued to gain momentum in Milan, with the recent Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in Paris clearly providing great inspiration. Other key categories and items include the longer length for skirts and dresses, fringing effects, stripes, knitwear in crochet and macramé, trenchcoats, bold sunglasses, Seventies hats, python and suede.”
Standout collections: Jil Sander, Emilio Pucci, Gucci, Etro, Prada and Aquilano.Rimondi.

Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s
“There were shocking bursts of color on every runway, except of course for Dolce & Gabbana, which heralded another strong trend: white. I see this season as being one filled with high energy and fun prints. They can range from the standard polka dots to stripes to artist’s prints to florals. Armani, meanwhile, felt like an oasis of blue amid a sea of color and print, and it was beautiful. I would vote for the longer lengths this season because most of us own a miniskirt already, and the maxi looks very new and fresh. I think designers were having fun, and that’s what dressing should be. Among emerging designers, I really liked Aquilano.Rimondi. They’re evolving into that stratosphere of really talented world- class designers.” Standout collections: Prada, Jil Sander, Giorgio Armani, Aquilano.Rimondi and Salvatore Ferragamo.

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