By  on March 7, 2005

PARIS — It didn’t quite sizzle, but Paris delivered salable collections of romantic and subtly elegant clothes, retailers said Sunday as the international marathon of designer shows drew to a close.

Though more “sedate” than in recent seasons, Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director at Barneys New York, said the city lived up to its reputation as the most exciting fashion capital.

“We were given choices, not just a singular note,” she said. “What stood out were the well-designed collections that pushed the norm — Balenciaga, Rochas and Lanvin.”

Gilhart also called Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe “superb.”

Chloé, Chanel, Viktor & Rolf and Dries Van Noten also topped many best-of lists, with coats, cocktail dresses, skinny pants, stack-heeled boots, velvet and evening dresses with trains considered among the leading trends and items.

However, with a strong euro boosting price tags this season, many retailers said selections would be careful.

Robert Burke, vice president and senior fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, called Paris “exceptional,” especially coming on the heels of a lackluster and often somber Milan. He said Paris fashions that were “restrained, original and feminine” encapsulate Bergdorf’s fashion direction for fall.

Still, buyers accustomed to fireworks on the runways here noted a shift away from theatrics.

“Paris continues to be commercial and has moved away from art for art’s sake,” said Sue Patneaude, executive vice president of designer apparel at Nordstrom. “The season is refined and glamorous with lace, embroideries and sequins used in subtle, couture-like ways. It’s very pretty.”

Patneaude cited “no predominant theme” for the season save for bell-shaped skirts at Stella McCartney, peplum and smocked jackets at Chloé and so-called “item” coats from Alexander McQueen, Celine and John Galliano.

“We also loved Balenciaga’s suits and coats with toggle hardware closures,” she added. “Chanel and Gaultier presented stellar collections.”

Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s, summed up Paris with the slogan: Trash is out. Class is in. “What we saw in Paris were clothes to savor, not just clothes about a fad,” he said. “It was about innovative and lasting fashion.”

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