MILAN — A strong euro, snarled traffic and grim weather notwithstanding, retailers left Milan in high spirits thanks to a gust of fresh, colorful and feminine fashions.
Buyers said they welcomed a shift from overt hard-edged sexiness to something softer and more romantic, with lots of floral prints and artistic touches. Collections by Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander, 6267, Marni, Fendi, Prada and Versace won wide praise, while ethnic-themed prints, transparency and full skirts of all lengths were cited among key trends.
Retailers lamented the difficulties of a condensed four-day fashion week. Several were frustrated they didn't have enough time to make it to showroom appointments between shows. While a shorter fashion week might suit some members of the press, it's not conducive to writing orders or seeking out new talent, they said.
"The Camera Nazionale needs to reevaluate this disastrous situation," said Michael Fink, vice president and women's fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. "And how many shows did you miss?"
Still, most retailers emerged from the season optimistic about a wide range of merchandise.
"I'm very, very positive for the spring-summer season. It's luxury, it's feminine, it's colorful — bravo!" enthused Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford.
"It was one of the strongest weeks here in many seasons," agreed Yasmin Sewell, buying director at Browns and Browns Focus in London. "It seemed more directional than in the past, but still commercial."
"I thought Milan reconfirmed fashion at its best. Usually when there are a lot of ruffles, chiffon and florals, it can end up being too saccharine, but it's not like that this season," added Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director of Henri Bendel. "Many designers mastered restraint and in doing so showed how sexy the power of suggestion can be."
Here's what other retailers had to say:
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus
"There's a bold color statement coming out of Milan, with turquoise looking the newest, plus all the pretty pastels. At Versace, those draped Grecian dresses came out like a rainbow. We also liked this multicultural, global referencing, which keeps some embellishment on the clothes. Another strong message was the hand of the artist: prints that really looked touched by a brush or had an artisanal feel."
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