By and  on September 18, 2007

PARIS — Next summer's ingenue is smartening up with more sophisticated looks, including slimmer fits, longer hemlines and more elegant tailoring.

At least that was the main fashion message at the Prêt à Porter and Who's Next apparel trade shows, which ended their four-day runs at the Porte de Versailles here on Sept. 9.

"Styles are not as naïve, which is a welcome change as customers were getting tired of it," said Yaël Kouprianoff, owner and buyer of Biba, a contemporary fashion boutique in the heart of Paris' Saint Germain.

"There is much less of the baby-doll look, which is a good thing," agreed Ludivine Grégoire, whose store in New York's West Village specializes in the latest Parisian styles. Grégoire, who placed orders with Les Prairies de Paris, Noro, Forte_Forte and Paspourtous, among others, said she expects subdued color palettes with occasional punctuations of bright yellow and dusty orange to be musts next summer.

While Grégoire flew to Paris for the shows specifically, she noted a general lack of retailers from North America.

"Manufacturers are doing more with Russian clients than retailers from North America," agreed Darren Mason, president of Andrew's, a 12,000-square-foot high-end women's fashion and accessories store in Toronto. Mason noted a "complete absence of color" with beige, white and gray dominating color palettes here. "Sizes are very small for the North American market; it is a challenge for us to find the right fit," Mason added.

Despite the lack of North American retailers, order writing was strong, with buyers searching for feminine — albeit increasingly seasonless — styles. Increasing spending for next season by as much as 20 percent, retailers said they were saving portions of their budget for immediate orders.

"Due to the weather, I hoped to see late-winter delivery in order to begin the season with fresh but appropriate merchandise. It was all very summer-oriented," said Cedric Charbit, general merchandise manager of women's fashion at Printemps.

Charbit said he placed orders at American Vintage for T-shirts, knitwear at BA&SH, dresses at April, May, as well as Diabless, Iro and Paul & Joe Sister.

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