MILAN — Pleased with what they saw on the runways here, retailers are optimistic about spring — but the economy still has them hedging their bets.
While noting the luxury business is still showing momentum, retailers said they are alert to economic and currency volatility, and prepared to turn on a dime.
“Like everyone, we are watching the market very closely,” said Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Lane Crawford, Hong Kong. “I am sure there is not a retailer out there who is not mindful of what is happening and reviewing the runway buys to hold back on a portion of planned purchases in light of being prudent with these later deliveries.”
A strong selection of dresses — from Twenties flapper styles to hourglass Fifties silhouettes — anchored a confident Milan season.
Other strong trends included bold colors and patterns; scarf prints and handkerchief hems; sporty blousons and bombers; and a return to the skirt, from pencil-slim to full and knife-pleated.
Standout collections for buyers included Prada, Jil Sander, Marni, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Etro.
“Milan has delivered a powerhouse of ideas, and despite the gloomy economic forecast, spring 2012 collections have been positive, upbeat and optimistic,” said Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction at Toronto-based Holt Renfrew.
“It’s hard to leave Italy without applauding its signature of world class craftsmanship and the modern evolution on heritage,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman.
Following are some retailers’ reactions to the Milan collections:
Mikhail Kusnirovich, chief executive officer, Bosco di Ciliegi and president, GUM, Moscow: Sound off: Our sales so far this year for autumn-winter are up 25 percent versus last year. We are quite optimistic. I’m not sure how long it is going to remain as comfortable as today, but we remain positive for the next few months. Outerwear, of course, is still a very big part of the allocation, but our accessories projects are also growing very well, with shoes, bags and scarves performing very well.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus: Sound off: Nothing makes a retailer happier than runways full of appealing color, beautiful prints and lots of femininity. It’s nice to see a continuation of the dressed-up spirit on the runways of Milan. I am excited to see that designers made superlative efforts to add special touches, details and craftsmanship to make beautiful clothes. Trendspotting: Gymnasium and sporty ideas; pleats and fluidity; color, from pinks to oranges to beautiful shades of blue and even icy sorbet shades; black and white. Favorite collections: Prada, Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta, Aquilano.Rimondi and Pucci.
Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction, Holt Renfrew, Toronto: Sound off: We are planning single-digit growth for spring 2012. Our open-to-buy is planned to be nimble in order to react to either growth or a softening of the business. Trendspotting: It is clear that the lady is back in town, from sexy signorinas to polished mid-century ladies, exuberant flapper girls and those wild-at-heart deluxe hippies. With the abundance of sheer bandeau tops and retro-inspired swimwear and bodysuits, we feel the lingerie category will be explosive. Favorite collections: Prada, Fendi, Etro, Aquilano.Rimondi, Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander, Marni, Gucci and Giorgio Armani.
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue: Sound off: Overall, there was an emphasis on real clothes on the runways. Trendspotting: The Twenties was the decade of choice, with flapper and graphic Art Deco references, followed closely by the Fifties, with a focus on ladylike dressing. I like the two contrasting dress silhouettes we’ve seen in Milan: straight and linear with a dropped waist, or with a nipped-in waist and fuller skirt. An icy pastel palette colored the catwalks, with pretty shades of pale blue, butter yellow, pink and mint green. Favorite collections: Prada, Etro, Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander and Marni.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman, New York: Sound off: We’re flattered. Many of the Italian designers appeared to have a love affair with American iconography — from the Chrysler building to the Jazz Age, Hawaii and hot-rod culture — but filtered through luxe Italian style. Trendspotting: We found Milan ripe with compelling product and a powerful mix of commercial and editorial ideas. Like New York and London, color and exciting prints were the most clear trends. We continue to buy the most special pieces here, as our clients respond to emotional product. Favorite collections: Jil Sander, Prada, Etro, Pucci, Missoni, Marni and Aquilano.Rimondi.
Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager, men’s and women’s apparel, Printemps: Sound off: We are very pleased with this season. It’s very feminine and subtle and will make women want to renew their wardrobes. Our business at Printemps Haussmann is doing very well. We are going to stick to our budget target, without committing the entire amount right away, so we are being cautious but we remain optimistic. Trendspotting: Dresses and skirts with Fifties-style nipped-in waists and pleated A-line skirts. Lots of white and powdery pastel shades. Favorite collections: Prada, Jil Sander, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana.
Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong: Sound off: We are very fortunate in our part of the world. The last year has brought Lane Crawford considerable double-digit growth. We have confidence in our market of Hong Kong and China, but of course we must be mindful of possible rumblings due to the global market. Trendspotting: The strongest have certainly been about the Fifties/mid-century. A very dressed elegance is key to Milan. We have seen a lot of pleating, fringing, 3-D lace, colorful prints, bejeweled embroidery and crochet. Dresses are important, and there’s a real return to the skirt, be it a full skirt or a longer-line pencil skirt, often paired with a cropped, fitted knit, a cropped top or a Fifties bikini top. The Twenties trend is something that we won’t touch on a great deal. The Fifties and Sixties work so much better at retail. Favorite collections: Jil Sander, Prada, Marni, Bottega Veneta and Dolce & Gabbana.
Jennifer Wheeler, vice president of women’s designer apparel, Nordstrom: Sound off: While we are mindful of the economic challenges facing all of us, our business continues to be strong, and we have had no indication that it is slowing down. Our budgets will continue to reflect the positive momentum we are experiencing. Trendspotting: Milan gave us strong color and beautiful prints, which are things the customer will love. All the great dresses and the new plissé and mixed-print skirts will be winners for sure. There was a thread of unity in the collections reflecting the Fifties and early Sixties, both in silhouettes and styling. Favorite collections: Prada, Jil Sander, Marni and Roberto Cavalli.
Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s: Sound off: At a time of economic doom and gloom, it’s ironic to see so much optimism on the catwalks. I kind of want to sum up the whole week with the phrase: happy days. The weather was fantastic and so were the runway shows. Trendspotting: Scarf prints are the essence of the season — from the standard status scarf to florals to artist-inspired to ethnic-inspired. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a season filled with so many wonderful prints. This should boost accessories, too. If you’re going to invest in a print, the first purchase you’re going to make is a scarf. Favorite collections: Marni, Prada, Etro, D&G, Giorgio Armani and Jil Sander. I also liked Bragia in the showroom.
Cindy Ho, fashion director, 360 Style Kuwait: Sound off: We have the same flat budget as last season, but we are trying to choose only the pieces we strongly believe in, and to not buy too deep. We always aim to give our clients as many choices as possible. I will definitely opt for the mix-and-match trend, but I will also be very careful with the price range. Trendspotting: I really liked how all the fashion houses mixed and matched the fabrics, carefully calculating the different flow of the materials. Favorite collections: Bottega Veneta, Prada, Gucci, Jil Sander andMarni.
Antonia Giacinti, owner, Antonia, Milan: Sound off: This season started very well. We reopened the store at the end of August, and our most loyal customers immediately came to pick their favorite items. To be honest, we haven’t felt the crisis, and have not been forced to cut our budgets. Of course, we never buy big assortments, because we sell high-end products and our clients always want to purchase things that make them feel special and unique.
Amanda Brooks, women’s fashion director, Barneys New York: Sound off: It’s important for us to be conscious of price points. If a woman won’t buy five things but only two, what will they be? Great investment pieces, or pieces you just can’t live without, like lustworthy items. Exclusivity is most important for us in this climate, not only exclusive brands, but also exclusive looks within a brand. Trendspotting: There was definitely a return to femininity. The silhouette was closer to the body, and the shoes especially were more feminine, with the return to single soles. We are glad to see some shoes under $1,500. There was also lots of embellishment, and more decoration than we are used to seeing. Favorite collections: Jil Sander and Marni.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion