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Buyers Laud Paris Trends, From Sixties to Minimal

Chanel and Lanvin were standouts.

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Chanel RTW Spring 2011

Giovanni Giannoni

Akris RTW Spring 2011

Akris RTW Spring 2011

Giovanni Giannoni

Dries van Noten RTW Spring 2011

Dries van Noten RTW Spring 2011

Giovanni Giannoni

John Galliano RTW Spring 2011

John Galliano RTW Spring 2011

Giovanni Giannoni

Haider Ackermann RTW Spring 2011

Haider Ackermann RTW Spring 2011

Dominique Maitre

PARIS — Hot, crowded and hectic: Paris Fashion Week put buyers through their paces, but the traffic jams and security concerns were worth it for retailers, who lauded an upbeat and diverse lineup.

This story first appeared in the October 7, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“What’s emblematic of Paris is the degree of individuality and house-specific vision,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman.

The shadow of Yves Saint Laurent, whose retrospective at the Petit Palais ended in August, loomed large, with peasant blouses, jumpsuits, gypsy skirts and brilliant color as key elements of the season.

But that wasn’t all.

“It must be said, there were a lot of differing messages. We have seen punk, Sixties, Seventies, plays on feminine-masculine, a mass of diaphanous clothes, pale denim — and everything in between,” said Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford.

Buyers were energized by a memorable presentation at Chanel and strong collections at Dries Van Noten, Lanvin, Haider Ackermann, Valentino, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Celine and Akris.

They also praised two anticipated debuts: Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen and Giles Deacon at Emanuel Ungaro.

“There was overall more optimism than in the past few seasons. Everyone’s firmly convinced we’ve turned a corner,” noted Ed Burstell, managing director at Liberty of London.

“We’re feeling really optimistic with all the color, lightness and beautiful clothing,” said Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president of designer merchandising, Nordstrom. “We always find Paris to be wonderfully individualistic.”

He said Norstrom’s four favorite collections — Dries Van Noten, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin — offered “real clothes for real women” that were chic and modern.

But stress levels ran high as the crowded schedule and far-flung venues caused long delays, while a travel alert issued by the U.S. State Department on Sunday, warning of a risk of terrorist attacks, revived buried fears for many attendees who were in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

New names that caught notice included Hakaan Yildirim, Anthony Vaccarello, Lahssan, Harry Halim and Felipe Oliveira Baptista.

Here, a look at buyers’ favorites and the key trends for spring as seen in Paris.

Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman
Trendspotting:
Strong color, prints derived from nature, longer lengths, feminine interpretations on men’s wear, YSL. “We are noting crisp white shirt dressing, great trousers, vivid color as items, colorblocking in accessories and unique pieces with strength of character. We felt that Paris was especially strong in luxury materials and workmanship, and unique directional product.”
Sound off: “We were concerned about the high security alerts but recommended that our teams utilize cars and taxis versus any public transport. We will collectively wrap up the season tired, but very satisfied and enthused to bring it all home.”

Barbara Atkin, vice president and fashion director, Holt Renfrew
Trendspotting:
“Short hemlines coexisted with floor-grazing lengths. We saw the fragile and the structured, the masculine and the feminine. The Paris collections have translated into options for the customer: Pleating, longer lengths, androgyny, punk, sheer layers, cutout details, stripes, leather, tailored denim and Seventies influences are some of the trends we are seeing.”
Sound off: “With the popularity of live-streaming, we will have to better understand how the retailer can service a customer who now has access to a season that has not yet been delivered to the stores. Current retail inventories may no longer support the trends that the customer sees online.”

Ed Burstell, managing director, Liberty of London
Trendspotting:
White, as seen at Dries Van Noten; long lengths, especially at Alexander McQueen; tailoring; leather for spring; pleating; pop color. “Carmen Cass in that diaphanous cornflower blue top at John Galliano was gorgeous.”
Sound off: “I think there’s going to be some boredom for minimalism. I’m not sure everyone’s willing to walk away from things that are a little more fun and sexy to [looks more suited to] a Connecticut soccer mom heading for lunch.” Burstell added, “The Goth and the punk should be left to the experts.”

Nicole Fischelis, group vice president and fashion director, Macy’s
Trendspotting:
White; neons; stripes; prints; “lace, lace, lace” and macramé; transparencies and layering; biker influences; shirting; the Seventies as seen by Yves Saint Laurent — peasant blouses, jumpsuits, new lengths.
Sound off: “Getting from location to location is an inevitable part of this job. It will always be that way, unless designers suddenly decide to show their collections in a different way. In fact, we saw more collections presented in a static environment this season in formats that were successful and actually allowed you to see the clothes up close. We are probably in a period of transition, where some collections perhaps don’t need to be shown on the runway.”

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus
Trendspotting:
“Paris has been an interesting juxtaposition: The effusive, Yves Saint Laurent fever with rich peasant, bohemian look on one side, and pared-down chic, with the love of white on the other. A woman has to have pinks, oranges and coral in her wardrobe next season, and floral prints of all kinds.”
Sound off: “I’m not feeling this punk spirit with great enthusiasm. It’s an interesting mood no one was anticipating.”

Linda Dresner, owner, Linda Dresner, Birmingham, Mich.
Trendspotting:
“The punk spirit was certainly a strong trend. A long fluid skirt will certainly be a key item to drive business this spring as a new silhouette. Prints were a strong presence also in the collections.”
Sound off: “The shows were overcrowded, hot and uncomfortable. It is exhausting and a struggle to inconvenient locations. The present organization concept is dated.”

Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford
Trendspotting:
“The customer has had enough of neutrals from fall. We need to set the sales floor alive with color and print. Also longer lengths for sure: knife- and sun-ray pleated skirts, the pant and skirt with shirting, and the jacket has overtaken the dress. Flat shoes again are the major choice. However, we continue to sell strongly the highest, most extreme heels and shoe styles.”

Colleen Sherin, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
Trendspotting:
An interplay of masculine-feminine elements, and bold, vibrant color, worked in color-blocked or monochromatic ways. “I feel I saw more monochromatic head-to-toe looks.” Feathers replace fringe as the embellishment of choice. The minimal refinement of easy-chic, wide-leg fluid trousers, tunics, shirts and longer-length skirts and dresses, often pleated, “feels right,” said Sherin, adding she particularly liked the cotton poplin shirts at Celine.
Sound off: “None, it was a smooth and positive week.”

Kelly Golden, owner, Neapolitan, Winnetka, Ill.
Trendspotting:
“Important trends are peasant blouses, elongated silhouettes, flared pants and monochromatic minimal looks. My clients want to look good every day, not just on special occasions, and Paris offered them plenty of options. I think the focus has been shifting to daywear, and away from the over-the-top cocktail attire. The Seventies, chic bohemian feeling continued. My clients will absolutely appreciate all of the flat sandals and shoes that were popular this season.”

Nicholas Mellamphy, creative director of The Room, Hudson’s Bay Co., Toronto
Trendspotting:
“Paris was softer and gentler than the other cities on the tour. The color palette was more muted, with many pale pastels. The softness continued into the fabrics. The dress and skirt lengths continue to be interesting. Overall, a sense of optimism swept the collections. Paris seemed to be in an even more individualistic state.”

Patricia Bagattini, head buyer, Daslu
Trendspotting:
White, black and pale pink, animal prints. “Leopard print is the new black — it was a big element of the collections, both in terms of clothes and accessories, and we see animal prints being a recurring theme. A lot of collections, like Valentino, were more feminine. We’re seeing a lot of ruffles, which work really well for us. Yves Saint Laurent was a defining collection in a season where many people were inspired by its founder.”
Sound off: “Because the whole market is changing, we’ve been looking at more brands and different designers. You just want to see more and, all of a sudden, everything is too crammed. It was very intense but very promising. We were very excited about this market.”

Andrew Keith, president, Joyce
Trendspotting:
“We felt it was an interesting season for Paris, with diverse approaches from many designers. With exceptional performances from all of our Paris brands for spring-summer and a very strong start for fall-winter, we are on the market with increased budgets and looking for innovation and a point of difference. We felt that it was an interesting season for Paris, with diverse approaches from many designers.”

Averyl Oates, chief buying director, Harvey Nichols, London
Trendspotting:
“White, again, was prominent, as was the new longer length, sheer and draping.” Oates said her team was confident about the explosion of color; true reflections of each brand’s DNA, and the “exciting contrast” of silhouettes from short to leaner and longer. For Oates, the revival of the Seventies trend reflects the mood of that period today, “when we are looking for inspiration and a positive outlook towards the future.”

Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director, Barneys New York:
Trendspotting:
Gilhart said the season was full of prints, bright colors and lace. “Paris nailed the season’s trends and gave us our one and only ‘fashion moment’ at Lanvin, with five beautiful models walking like female warriors in a mixture of prints. There was a black-and-white story that permeated everywhere, many times with an undertone of punk.”
Sound off: “It was a great season. The big concern for us is how to translate the things we loved into business. We are working on new and innovated ways that can entice our customer. The economy is still fragile so we have to be strong to get the customer to buy. We have to keep giving her more intelligent, authentic reasons to want to spend the money on fashion.”

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