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Upscale Mood at Mode City

Luxury lingerie, with an accent on femininity and glamour, headlined the action at Lyon Mode City.

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LYON, France — Luxury lingerie, with an accent on femininity and glamour, headlined the action at Lyon Mode City, the intimate apparel trade show that ended its three-day run here Sept. 5.

Floral and botanical designs, gossamer fabrics and vintage-inspired trimmings, such as frayed Calais lace, were among the hot commodities and suggested improved buyer confidence in upscale items.

Traffic was down 2 percent compared with last year, or 19,373 visitors versus 19,778. But big leaps in buyer attendance from Brazil, Russia and Canada added an interesting dynamic for business. There was also talk of export opportunities now that the dollar has stabilized against the euro, and about China’s potential as a consumer market and its manufacturing capabilities.

American retail attendance was up 12.2 percent to 486 visitors, including buyers from Banana Republic, Gap, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Target and Victoria’s Secret.

“Considering the dull European market, we’re very content with the results,” said Anne-Manuelle Herbert, international director for Eurovet, organizer of the fair.

Buyers said they were placing orders cautiously, but with less sticker shock.

“It’s been quite a tough year for lingerie, while swimwear has been surprisingly buoyant,” said Charlotte Greenhalgh, Harvey Nichols’ intimate apparel buyer, who said she is emphasizing luxury lingerie rather than contemporary brands.

“There’s very much a trend for womanly looks over girly looks, [just as] in ready-to-wear,” said Greenhalgh, who lauded Nina Ricci’s gossamer pastel creations and Rosanna Ansaloni’s tulle and lace lingerie sets.

“Though padded bras remain our bestseller, we have a lot of demand for elegant underwire bras, in sheer fabric…or lace,” she added. “Bustiers, too, will always sell.”

While buyers were loath to discuss budgets, exhibitors cited little price resistance.

“Since the dollar’s gotten stronger, buyers are no longer so resistant to our prices,” said Oriel Sola, executive manager of upscale Spanish brand Andres Sarda, referring to the dollar’s exchange rate to the euro.

Guia La Bruna, the designer of her namesake Italian label, also cited increased sales at the show compared with previous seasons, and buyers more prepared to make deals on the spot. She also lauded the presence of buyers from new markets such as Canada.

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“The euro-dollar exchange is always a concern and we’re still very conscious of price inflation, but it’s now a choice of whether the quality of the product is high enough,” said Mary Crug, divisional merchandise manager for Neiman Marcus.

Crug hailed color and novelty in prints, such as multipattern designs, as highlights of the spring-summer collections. She also pointed to the blurring of innerwear and rtw as a main trend, particularly camisoles.

“The new style, in a longer length, is particularly strong,” said Crug.

On the hunt for novelty, Janice Lawson, buyer for Canadian chain Holt Renfrew, bemoaned the lack of vendors with merchandise that compliments rtw trends. Lawson ordered U.S. brand Skin’s organic cotton sleepwear, which wholesales from $20 for a cotton camisole to $300 for a hand-knitted polyamide robe.

She also bought jewel-toned camisoles, priced at 60 euros, or $75 at current exchange, wholesale, from Lebanese label LaLa Rose, and luxury lingerie pieces from Italian brand Rosanna Ansaloni.

“Canadians don’t like lingerie to be too overtly sexual,” she said. “Understatedly sexy brands such as Eres do really well in our store.”

Galeries Lafayette buyer Caroline Fournier enjoyed the more feminine, “bucolic” designs, such as the floral nightgowns from Princess Tam Tam.

A lineup of speakers on the potential of China, particularly Shanghai, as a consumer market drew big crowds. It was to promote Eurovet’s inaugural lingerie show in Shanghai set for Oct. 26-28, with companies such as Wacoal America, Carrefour, Triumph and Morgan signed up, according to Herbert.

Studio 183, the design studio for Chinese manufacturer Ace Style Intimate Apparel Inc., was at Lyon to promote Chinese production.

“These are the guys who produce intimate apparel for biggies such as Gap and Calvin Klein,” said Jos Berry, a trend speaker from Concepts Paris.

However, business was slow for Chinese exhibitors, since styles were largely out of sync with current European trends.

“China’s forte lies in manufacturing, but Chinese brands still have to catch up with getting the style and trend right,” said Andrew Sia, president of Ace Style.

Jon Penrice, president of marketing for Invista Inc., said, “The best advice I could give any manufacturer today would be to engage in the Chinese market. [The Chinese] are looking for top-end product and Europe is importing the bottom end from China.”

Meanwhile, Olivier Noyon, chief executive of lace giant Noyon, said he sees more potential in India.

“I think India is more ready to embrace fashion and has a huge wealth of unmined inspiration to give back,” he said.

KEY TRENDS AT LYON MODE CITY INCLUDED:

  • Extreme lightness, simplicity and luxury.
  • Mixed prints, such as paisleys mixed with flowers or contrasting animal prints.
  • Florals in large and bold motifs or delicate Liberty prints.
  • Tops in lightweight cotton knits and silks.
  • Pinks and corals.
  • Geometric lace designs.
  • Vintage trimmings, such as hooks and handmade buttons.
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