By  on October 9, 2007

PARIS — Optimistic, colorful — and tempered with a modern edge.

That's how buyers summed up a strong fashion week here, headlined by blockbuster shows from Lanvin, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten and Nina Ricci.

After witnessing a powerful Milan offering, buyers said Paris lived up to its reputation as an epicenter of fashion and further buttressed the European season.

"You could say that France's rugby victory over the weekend, with people pouring into the streets in celebration, sort of summed up the mood of Paris fashion," said Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale's.

Despite the strong euro, buyers voiced little concern that French fashion would price itself beyond their customers' pocketbooks. They applauded the rush of color, prints, ruffles, gossamer fabrics — and such saleable items as voluminous skirts, easy dresses, trenchcoats and strong-shouldered jackets.

"The value of the euro isn't a problem," said Sarah Easley, co-owner of Kirna Zabête in New York. "The most beautiful and individual clothes will sell. The customer expects the best. They keeping crossing the threshold of price."

Retailers lauded the blend of inventiveness and commerciality from Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, Miu Miu and Alexander McQueen. Other favorites included John Galliano, Balmain and Junya Watanabe.

"Paris was as equally brilliant as Milan," said Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction at Canada's Holt Renfrew. "But there was a wonderful men's androgynous look that we saw more of in Paris."

One trend that puzzled retailers — though there were believers — was the dropped-crotch dhoti pant. Most stores preferred cropped trousers as a more viable foil for spring's myriad dresses and skirts.
Here's what retailers had to say:

Anna Garner, head of fashion, Selfridges
"Paris was an absolute riot of color and print. The season was softer and more feminine with fluidity and transparency on one hand, and couture-like fabrics and silhouettes on the other. The repetitive florals and silhouettes at Balenciaga summed up the season in a way, and there was a lot of repetition at Miu Miu, too. Total look seems to be back and strong colors, like cobalt blue and yellow. My favorites were Stella McCartney, Nina Ricci, Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten. Ann Demeulemeester and Vanessa Bruno had nice shows, too. As far as accessories, it was very pared down on the runway, with a clutch or a mini bag. But shoes were great. Maybe a great shoe is the new bag."

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