By  on February 5, 2005

All hail New York.

Those sputtering sounds are sparks of electricity emanating from fashion week in Manhattan. There’s a tangible sense of anticipation and creativity that’s been lacking some past seasons, observers say. Even the French have noticed. Cedric Charbit, general merchandise manager for women’s fashion at Printemps, the French department store chain, said, “New York has become a fashion week that matters. It’s been getting more creative and I’ve noticed a super evolution recently toward more exciting fashion.”

After years of hardly carrying any brands that show in New York, Printemps recently added Marc Jacobs, Theory, Roland Mouret, Proenza Schouler and Matthew Williamson.

WWD asked some other retailers about their hopes and fears for fall 2005. Here’s what they said:

Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director, Barneys New York

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: It is a tie. Narciso Rodriguez, because his collections are always an evolution of his aesthetic and every time, without fault, beautifully executed. Marc Jacobs, because he always exudes this great energy in his clothes and his show that makes you happy.

The look or trend I’ll like to see retired: Moon boots should go away.

People have been buzzing about: Thakoon.

What I think I’ll see this season: Great clothes. I feel positive. New York has a great vibe and lots of talent, both old and new. I am looking forward to seeing the Future Fashion show on Feb. 8, where a lot of designers made clothes from environmentally sustainable fabrics. Challenging, but cool.

What I’d like to see more of: Good clothes that customers can easily wear and buy and, most importantly, designs that push the norm because in six months, those are the things that are going to seem really interesting.

Haru Suzuki, fashion merchandiser, Barneys Japan

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: Derek Lam. The brand’s elegant and feminine details are contemporary and it has uniqueness as one of the New York brands. I also want to see Wyeth, Development and LoyandFord. They’re able to show fresh collections of real clothes and their direction is unique. Thakoon has a unique styling that’s a perfect marriage between delicate details such as silk, satin and embroidery and natural finishing.What I anticipate seeing: Jackets, light knits and fine blouses with details of various materials are things I’ll be paying attention to.

Jeffrey Kalinsky, owner of Jeffrey New York and Jeffrey Atlanta

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: Tuleh, Proenza Schouler, Narciso Rodriguez, Michael Kors, Thakoon, Libertine and Project Alabama, although we buy it in Paris. We’re dying to see the winners of the “Project Runway” show and we’re also interested in the new label, Miguel Peña.

What I hope to see: Lighter-weight fabrics than I saw for fall-winter ’04. I don’t want to see so many heavy fabrics. We now deal with a climate where you have to be prepared for summer and winter all the time. This past fall, it was 70 degrees in November in New York. The greenhouse effect is wreaking havoc on the weather.

I’d love to see some beautiful coats. It’s more important for us to have great coats than heavyweight suits. My girl’s in denim and cashmere.

Sue Patneaude, executive vice president of designer apparel, Nordstrom

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: We’re interested in seeing if Sean Combs’ backing will show on the Zac Posen runway. Hopefully, the backing will enable Zac to more fully develop into a bigger, broader collection.

We’re also interested in seeing Marc Jacobs because the collection is always influential and directional. And we’re looking forward to seeing Oscar this season. It’s always beautiful and increasingly important. I feel like Oscar’s captured a new, younger, more fashion-forward customer. Proenza Schouler is of interest to us and I love to see the Donna Karan show. She does a beautiful job and is directional. I’m anxious to see what she does with the jackets and coloration.

Changes in direction I’m anticipating: We’ll see some changes in silhouette and a fuller pant leg. The full skirt is just hitting its stride. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t see a lot of it. We think the trenchcoat still has lots of opportunity for evolution and development. There’s also the jacket as an item, particularly that three-quarter jacket in a print fabric. We’re calling it the collection jacket that you wear as an outer piece. This will be a less girly season.What I’d like to see: My hope is that we’ll see more suits with fuller skirts and that the jacket will go beyond the tweed trend, which is in very broad-based markets now. We’d like to see some sophisticated bouclés and plaids. When jacket business is good, the retail business is good. I also hope we’ll see more sweaters because we haven’t had a huge sweater season in a while. Sweater jackets would be a natural evolution.

New designers we’re watching: Thakoon. We’re still watching John Varvatos, Reem Acra and Roland Mouret.

Michael Fink, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: Based on pre-fall, I can’t wait to see Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren. Donna was so precise in her message. It was a wonderful combination of renaissance mixed with urban and modern styling. Ralph Lauren had all of the usual luxurious cashmere, but it was very lean, very modern monochromatic dressing with a little bit of renaissance detailing such as buckles.

The look or trend I’d like to see retired: Anything retro or vintage, please go away.

Newer designers I’m interested in: Derek Lam and Behnaz Sarafpour. Esteban Cortazar keeps getting better. He’s just 19 years old. I’m interested in Thakoon and the Ruffian, which we picked up.

Changes I’m anticipating: A very big switch from this overly romantic and pretty moment we’ve been in for a while to beautiful construction that’s a lot leaner. There’s a big opportunity for beautiful blouses. The whole evening-for-day look is important, as is a general breaking of the rules and inventiveness. The full skirt is definitely going to continue.

Open-to-buy: We’re looking to spend. We had a great fall and spring is off to a great start. People want what’s new and exciting and emotional.

Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’sRunway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: We’re anxious to see the established stars and what they’re doing to give a little twist to their collections.

Young designers I’m interested in: I’ll be looking forward to seeing what young designers like Zac Posen are doing. We have a few new ones we’re just starting with such as Peter Som, who is doing well. We also added Jeffrey Chow. I’m anxious to see what Proenza Schouler is doing.

Changes I’m anticipating: We’re in the process of liking fuller skirts rather than full pencil skirts.

The look or trend I’d like to see retired: We think we’re over the poncho. Our first poncho ad was last June and we sold 30,000 in our contemporary area between June and Christmas.

What I’d like to see: A replacement for the poncho. Whether it’s the shrug or jacket, we’re going to find it.

Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: Tanya Pietro, two men who do wonderful dresses in jersey. I’m very anxious to see Ralph Rucci because he’ll be combining a small part of his couture with ready-to-wear.

The look or trend I’d like to see retired: I’m tired of things that are too unrealistic. People want beautiful clothes. I’m thinking no one over 12 should have a miniskirt, bare navel or pants that are slung too low. I’m tired of overexposure.

Open-to-buy: We’ll find money for things that are wonderful even if we weren’t planning to buy them.

Sarah Easley, co-owner Kirna Zabête

Runway shows I’m most looking forward to seeing: A lot of New York designers are hitting their stride, including Derek Lam and Peter Som. Thakoon is about to do his third collection. There’s Sari Gueron, who specializes in cocktail dresses and does a few gowns. These designers have been smart as far as editing down their collections. We’re excited to see what Jeffrey Chow is going to do, although we haven’t purchased his collection yet. Sometimes we like to see a designer a few times. We’re always excited about Behnaz Sarafpour. You never know what her collection is going to be like and it’s always good.The look or trend I’d like to see retired: I’ve never liked pencil skirts. They’re not realistic. Hopefully, for fall, we’re going to take a break from my favorite look for spring-summer: bohemian.

— With contributions from Miles Socha, Paris, and Koji Hirano, Tokyo

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