By  on March 7, 2013

PARIS — Eclectic fashion propositions — from ladylike to grunge — and a heightened luxury quotient left retailers in a positive mood about Paris Fashion Week, which ended its nine-day run Wednesday.

“Targeting a broad range of consumers always bodes well for a strong season ahead,” said Suzanne Timmins, fashion director at Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Co. “I love the opposing forces seen in Paris this season. We saw a refreshing contrast of supreme elegance —Dior, Dries Van Noten, Rochas — and punky, grungy street style at Saint Laurent and Junya Watanabe.”

“Paris galvanized the entire season for us. It was both incredibly energizing from a pure fashion perspective as well as balanced with abundant commercial opportunity,” added Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, at New York’s Bergdorf Goodman. “Important houses in transition are already proving that they have made excellent and interesting decisions and have reasserted their DNA. Our spend here will reflect our enthusiasm.”

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Detractors found collections too safe, a reflection of an uncertain economic climate. Most retailers said budgets would be flat or increase modestly.

“We haven’t seen so much of anything completely new or striking,” said Polina Kitsenko, creative director of Moscow-based Podium Market Fashion Group. “There weren’t so many newcomers, and I think this is because of the crisis, everybody is much more cautious.”

Hedi Slimane’s sophomore collection for Saint Laurent, an ode to the California grunge scene, was a key talking point and a divisive collection, leaving some retailers excited, others perplexed.

Collections by Dior, Sacai, Dries Van Noten, Celine, Lanvin, Chanel and Junya Watanabe were frequently praised.

Buyers said longer skirts, oversize outerwear, roomy blousons, sweatshirts and biker jackets are among key silhouettes poised to drive business next season.

Here’s more of what they had to say:

Tancrède de Lalun, merchandise manager for men’s and women’s wear, Printemps, Paris:

SOUND OFF: “Paris is never boring. The city offers a fantastic level of fashion and diversity. It’s tempting to think about extending the Paris calendar by another day or two, even if it means shortening Milan a little, if needed.”

TRENDSPOTTING: Fur, outerwear, longer skirt lengths, flat shoes.

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Givenchy, Celine, Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, Cédric Charlier, Anthony Vaccarello.

BUSINESS OUTLOOK: “In general terms, we are increasing our designer spend because we are growing strongly thanks to the recent renovations at Printemps. We are also prepared to order reassortments, something we already did for summer.”

Hirofumi Kurino, senior adviser for creative direction, United Arrows:

SOUND OFF: “In these tough times, most designers try their best and try new things. It’s a very positive season. Fabrics are more important. Goodbye glamour and sexy, welcome classy and elegant. Our women’s buyer team has increased its budget.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “Feminine-masculine mix; thick but light looks; bold prints; classy feeling.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Dries Van Noten, Celine.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “Journalists will judge [Slimane] as negative, but buyers are positive. Sales in the shop are very good.”

Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:

SOUND OFF: “[Paris] was a high point of the four-city fashion tour. The energy surrounding the new generation of designers at Dior, Givenchy and Saint Laurent is intoxicating. We hope to translate this magic and excitement to our shop floors.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “Sculpted and voluminous statement-making coats, ‘borrowing from the boys’ with mannish brogues and men’s wear checks and plaids, ultrafeminine fit and flare silhouettes, sporty parkas, bombers, blousons and moto jackets. It’s all about these new shapes and the tactile nature of the materials from which they are made.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Lanvin, Dior, Junya Watanabe, Celine, Givenchy, Sacai, Saint Laurent, Haider Ackermann, Alexander McQueen, Akris, Chanel.
Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente, Milan:

SOUND OFF: “I don’t think it was one of the strongest seasons in Paris. I don’t think there is anything new in terms of direction. Consumers are still very cautious. The economy has not picked up yet. Confidence to buy is not there, and designers are reflecting that.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “There was a lot of freedom for volumes. The colors are very subtle.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Celine, Valentino, Alexander McQueen.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “I think that what Hedi Slimane is doing is interesting. Of course it’s controversial, but Yves Saint Laurent was controversial. Of course the collection was hard to take, like a slap in the face almost, but maybe we need it.”

Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty in London:

SOUND OFF: “[There’s] nonsense that happens outside of every single show. Why don’t we start talking about what is actually happening inside the show, rather than the fact that someone can wear a Christmas tree on their head and get a picture taken? Honestly, I think it is absurd.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “[Key trends] are a combination of great layering, a combination of great tailoring — there is obviously the whole men’s wear influence. There is this sharper avant-garde movement that’s happening here, and then there is, of course, the rebirth of certain houses that have taken [their] DNA and moved it forward: Kenzo, Dior and Balenciaga.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: “For me there are two really clear groups. I call it commercial and cool; my favorites under that would be Stella McCartney, Kenzo, Dior, Dries [Van Noten] and Balenciaga. And then happening also but probably slightly quieter, but I think an equally important trend, is this resurgence of the avant-garde, which would be Haider Ackermann, Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens.”

BUSINESS INSIGHT: “You are going to have to get out of the idea of buying into trends. What you are going to have to do is to take a much more modern approach, and you are going to have to look at each collection and then…pick the best and put yourself in a consumer’s mind rather than relying on the supplier. How does someone modern shop? Just very few people wear head to toe, so you have to make sure that you have the best pieces from each collection, and then they are really going to have to stand on their own. So rather than wait to see if the market has adapted, I think the retailer has to be proactive.”

ON SAINT LAURENT: “A miss. I just didn’t think it was original.”

Marigay McKee, chief merchant, Harrods:

SOUND OFF: “I like how they’re making luxury minus the logo even more desirable. Everything channels this ubersophistication. It’s more about a symbol of taste than a symbol of wealth. I think stealth is a trend on the runway. Even the grunge we saw on the runway was done in such a sophisticated manner.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “There are a lot of capes, lace, monochromatic black and white, the nude color palette and fur, more than ever before, along with exotic skins.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Chanel.
Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong:

SOUND OFF: “Paris gives Lane Crawford our strongest designer business from our portfolio. With these French designer brands, we are still seeing growth and strong sell-through.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “It’s been a season of refined femininity. Tailoring has shown through a great deal with an emphasis on the play of volumes. After many pointed toes and ankle straps in Milan and New York, we have started to see a soft, rounder toe on shoes, and especially the new boot that is cut high above the ankle but just below midcalf. We have seen a large amount of coats and feel strongly about the reworked biker jacket. This is the season of the skirt worn with knitwear.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Givenchy, Sacai, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chanel.

Mira Mikati, co-owner, Plum, Beirut:

SOUND OFF: “The energy wasn’t as it used to be, although some shows were really nice.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Celine, Dior, Chanel, Lahssan.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “I used to kill myself to buy [Slimane’s] collection while at Dior Homme and had very high expectations when I heard he was going to YSL. I thought summer 2013 was nice…but fall 2013? The DNA of the brand was not respected at all, to say the least. No chic French smoking, no elegance, just not Yves Saint Laurent. I hope that it was just a burnout and he will catch up for next summer.”

BUSINESS CONFIDENCE: “We are having a hard time in Beirut. Fall was super hard, but summer seems to be picking up well, so we are positive. We are choosing more quality, less quantity, more special pieces and colors, colors, colors! Budgets are 15 percent lower than two years ago, as the political situation has been very unstable in Beirut.”

Emmanuel De Bayser, owner and buyer, The Corner Berlin:

SOUND OFF: “We are going through a period of transition. People deliberate and concentrate more on investment pieces that are hard to copy, which is what we buy.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “Generally speaking, we saw three key trends: couture chic; rock ’n’ roll, and feminine but modern.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: “Celine, Saint Laurent — two extremes, but that is also what our customers want. They like to mix.”

ON SAINT LAURENT: “Journalists will probably give [Slimane] bad reviews, but they should take more into account what people want, and they want that rock ’n’ roll vibe. It was a superb collection.”

Justin O’Shea, buying director,

SOUND OFF: “This is really one of the strongest seasons we’ve had from Paris, because all the brands have their own identity, and they’re all desirable and very wearable. Of all the fashion weeks, Paris is definitely the most complete.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “The only trend I see corresponding throughout is a masculinity with the leather and pinstripes and outerwear.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “I look at the Saint Laurent woman and think, ‘That’s exactly how I want my girlfriend to dress.’ It’s cool. She doesn’t care. It’s very badass. Hedi Slimane is doing his own aesthetic but in his own luxurious way. In the showroom, the fabrications are all amazing, and it’s not exactly as specific as you see on the runway. From the retail point of view, it would probably work better than any of the other collections I’ve seen so far.”

Polat Uyal, chief merchandising officer, Beymen, Istanbul:

TRENDSPOTTING: “After a few seasons of quiet statements in footwear, finally shoes are getting more appealing with surprises. Costume jewelry is getting an important role within the collections that will drive an important business.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Haider Ackermann, Dries Van Noten, Valentino, Stella McCartney, Akris, Balenciaga.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “Saint Laurent was probably the most talked-about show. So the hype is still there. We do rely on Saint Laurent’s new path; however, I must say that I was not impressed with the show.”

BUSINESS CONFIDENCE: “We will be increasing budgets in Paris, planning to be up 30 percent, as Paris is offering very creative and experimental collections. Mixture of fabrics, volumes and the luxury approach are the main excitement for us.”

Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s, New York:

TRENDSPOTTING: “Outerwear, outerwear, outerwear, outerwear — it’s going to be a fall where everybody needs to update their coat.” Other trends included fur, luxury fabrications, longer lengths and Thirties and Fifties influences.

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Saint Laurent.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “[Slimane] disrupted the status quo, and I loved that. That’s what Paris is all about, and everybody is still talking about it. Isn’t that the purpose of fashion?”

Pascale Camart, director of women’s wear, Galeries Lafayette, Paris:

SOUND OFF: “Our momentum is strong thanks to our recent renovations. We are looking for pieces with added value, or people whose names are already known. A lot of our customers are from Asia, so when they know the brand in Asia, they are happy to find it in our store in the country of origin.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “There is always more luxury, always more shine. We are seeing it all the way down into knitwear, with Lurex sweaters, as well as T-shirts and supple leather pants. Then there is the heritage side, with pieces like duffle coats, parkas, but also plaid and tennis stripes that have a more authentic feel.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Celine, Valentino, Balenciaga, Dior, Giambattista Valli, Manish Arora.

ON SAINT LAURENT: “The real question mark is pricing. Did [Slimane] take his definition and his search for a younger client to its logical conclusion? If she is young, she won’t want to spend 1,500 euros on a mohair sweater. At least he got people talking about him. We are somewhat dismayed. He’s got people talking, now we have to see the next step.”

Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director of Barneys New York:

SOUND OFF: “The competitive energy we felt last season in Paris continues to challenge designers to create collections that are both distinct and modernizing their signatures.”

TRENDSPOTTING: “It’s a season of textures. In particular there is a strong story surrounding men’s wear fabrics. It’s the transformation of these materials into something updated that we felt strongly about.”

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS: Dries Van Noten, Givenchy, Junya Watanabe, Rick Owens, Delvaux (accessories).

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