That was the verdict from retail executives and fashion directors on the spring collections, which ended here Thursday. Designers revisited many of last spring’s greatest hits, punching them up with bright colors and a profusion of prints. The bottom line is that it will sell — a key point in these uncertain economic times.
“New York went safe, but that’s what we need to drive business in an economy that’s a big question mark,” said Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew. “I would have liked to see a little more pushing of the envelope at the designer end, but I don’t think this is the time to show clothes that are so new. When you start to change things too drastically, you scare the customer. It was fine. It wasn’t breathtaking.”
Still, there was a certain amount of reinvention, if not sheer newness.
For spring, the jacket means business — literally. “We believe the jacket is coming on strong, and it’s not the traditional black blazer,” said Frank Doroff, vice chairman of Bloomingdale’s. “It’s been reinterpreted in prints. Olivier Theyskens’ Theyskens’ Theory must have had 25 new jackets in the collection. There are sporty versions like the summer parka. This could spawn a new business. There’s been such a preponderance of dresses, it’s good for us if sportswear comes back.”
Kelly Golden, owner of specialty store Neapolitan Collection of Winnetka, Ill., said the idea of a parka or anorak over a cocktail dress or evening gown “is a new fresh update that will give my clients a reason to buy. It’s probably something that’s not in their closets.” And consumers need reasons to buy apparel these days.
“The customer has become very savvy,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. “It’s about finding very special things. She’ll absolutely pay the price for very special things. She doesn’t want anything she already has in her wardrobe.”
Jim Gold, president of specialty retail at The Neiman Marcus Group, said while consumers are responding to unique pieces, they are still cognizant of prices. “The price-value relationship is critical,” Gold said. “Whether it is a $250 item or a $3,500 item, the price must be justified by the quality, exclusivity and design.”
“I don’t know that our customer comes in to the store looking at price, but it has to be worth it,” said Susan Davidson, chief executive officer of Scoop. “When the stock market has a tough day, customers hold back a little bit. I do think that they’re a little more cautious.”
Here’s what else retailers had to say about the spring collections:
Daniella Vitale, chief merchant and executive vice president of Barneys New York: Trends: Perforation, handled in extremely sophisticated ways — sporty at Alexander Wang and decorative at Derek Lam. An abundance of sweaters, reflecting the need for this category going into summer. Sound off: I continue to be concerned that consumers are buying closer to need. Collections should reflect these changes. Seasons shouldn’t stifle creativity. A consumer should be encouraged to buy an incredible knit in January because she knows she can wear it right away instead of seeing 20 varieties of shorts she knows she won’t need for months.
Liz Rodbell, executive vice president of merchandising at Lord & Taylor: Trends: Color, the athletic influence and prints, from Michael Kors’ “Out of Africa,” Donna Karan’s Haiti and Mara Hoffman’s Mexican-influenced blanket patterns. Rationale: We’re picking what we love, but making sure it makes sense. If consumers are going to pay more for an item, they want it to have the right components.
Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president, designer merchandising, Nordstrom: Top collections: Jason Wu, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs and Rodarte. Trends: Over-the-top prints, femininity and strong color. Ones to watch: Prabal Gurung this season proved himself with exquisite fabrics and gorgeous prints.
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue: Top collections: Oscar de la Renta, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Marchesa, Theyskens’ Theory, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs. Trends: Color, urban sport with perforated mesh fabrics, vests, hooded jackets, asymmetric skirts with drawstring details, racer-back tanks and scuba inspirations. Prints in black-and-white and color-blocked effects and peplums.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman: Trends: Bright, citrus flavored colors, iced pastels, unexpected color-blocked mixes. The floras and far-flung prints of Africa, Polynesia and bird motifs, sport references, leather items and special eyelet fabrics. Ones to watch: Jason Wu, Joseph Altuzarra, Thakoon, The Row, Rodarte and Cushnie et Ochs. Top collections: Helmut Lang, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, Rachel Zoe, Kelly Wearstler, Diane von Furstenberg, Theyskens’ Theory, Proenza Schouler and Naeem Khan.
Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s group vice president and fashion director: Trends: Prints from Forties-influenced prints to giant or exploded florals, colorblocking, piping and striping. Athletic outerwear, the jacket in fabulous new colors. New wrinkles for dresses such as asymmetry, body-hugging and the new transparency. New fabric mélanges with woven materials mixed with knits. Top collections: Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Prabal Gurung, Edun, Derek Lam, Doo.ri, Alexander Wang, Rachel Roy, Diane von Furstenberg with new creative director Yvan Mispelaere and BCBG Max Azria.
Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus: Top collections: Joseph Altuzarra, The Row, Derek Lam, Marc Jacobs, Theyskens’ Theory, Proenza Schouler, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang and Victoria Beckham. Ones to watch: I like the direction of Wes Gordon. We’ve done a few trunk shows with him and the collection is moving forward in a very positive way. Trends: Bountiful color and prints, scuba or sport references with hooded poncho and anoraks, the closer-cut jacket, bold and colorful pants and printed pants. Navy as a neutral and navy played against strong color and neon as a contrast.
Barbara Atkin, Holt Renfrew: Top collections: Altuzarra, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Zero Maria Cornejo, Michael Kors, Victoria Beckham, Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Rachel Zoe. Trends: We know our customer is starting to embrace color. Crazy color was the new spin. The below-the-knee dress is a new silhouette, the wide long fluid or pleated palazzo pant has a retro Hollywood glamour. Sound off: On the runway there’s always the category of tailoring, but we didn’t see much of that. We hope to see it in the showroom.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)