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Understated Chic, Overstated Prints Score at Paris Fairs

Texture and knits also important trends.

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PARIS — The fall season marked the return of understated, craft-focused fashion at the Paris trade shows, with an emphasis on masculine shapes, handmade prints and fur.

“Embellishment and bling are definitely out,” said Virginie Maunier, a consultant for Lambert + Associates, with clients that include Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew and Fenwick. “We are currently witnessing a renewal of the classics. Most designers are now creating sober shapes and focusing on high-quality materials and texture.”

Exhibitors at Tranoï exemplified this trend.

London-based brand Orla Kiely presented a collection featuring pastel dresses and cashmere coats in camel tones. Taiwan-born Jamie Wei Huang — a recent graduate of Central Saint Martins — introduced her second collection, where asymmetric cuts, graphic shapes and deconstructed styles dominated in a palette of navy, black and white.

French blogger-turned-designer Margaux Lonnberg concentrated on cozy knitwear and masculine-inspired pieces in neutral tones.

“Our khaki army-inspired coats have garnered a lot of attention,” said Warren Guetta, sales director for the brand. “We are moving away from using black as a default color for winter, and witnessing the rise of ‘new neutrals’ such as navy, gray, beige and olive green. Personally, I am a fan of those colors. They convey a happier message than pitch black.”

“Androgynous and structured silhouettes are having a moment,” agreed Laura Saglio, fashion director of Paris’ recently opened Tom Greyhound, a Korean multibrand concept store. “Bombers and varsity jackets, oversized knitwear and straight-cut coats are all clients are asking for. By contrast, more girly styles and romantic, flowing fabrics and patterns are slowly fading away.”

Prints also made a strong showing at the trade show through brands like Los Angeles-based Clover Canyon, known for its sober silhouettes and multicolor digital patterns.

“Prints are no longer about pretty florals,” said Maunier. “The focus is now on arty patterns. In the last few years, designers have been pushing the boundaries of print to make them a true symbol of refinement and modernity.”

Israeli-born designer Daizy Shely and St. Petersburg-based Tatyana Parfionova have made handmade prints the foundation of their brands.

“Our patterns are working really well this season,” said Parfionova’s sales director Ekaterina Puchkova. “Buyers are really happy with our wildest prints in red, blue and purple tones, which makes sense. There are so many designers and brands out there that people are starting to look for the really unique pieces.”

At Capsule, prints were also the center of attention. British-born Kitty Joseph, a Royal College of Art graduate specializing in textile design, presented her fifth collection that features dresses, tops and skirts in acid colors decorated with prints resembling charcoal and crayon drawings.
“I have done digital prints in the past, but I have been noticing a shift in buyers’ preferences lately,” she said. “Photographic-style digital print is losing momentum. Simultaneously, buyers have been very interested in prints that have a touch of the hand.”

Her best-selling pieces this season were sherbet-yellow mesh dresses and printed T-shirts, she said.

“Just like last season, shoppers are looking for brands with a strong identity, special, interesting pieces at a good price point, but without giving up on the quality,” said Song Pham, a consultant for Harvey Nichols Hong Kong. “They also want the hot stuff of the moment — what they have seen on social networks and blogs — and they want it fast.”

Maunier said, “For the first time in a long while, we are witnessing the rising of a group of designers who have a strong connection with the youngest generations. I find the phenomenon extremely interesting and I can’t wait to see how it will evolve in the next few years.”

Bas Kosters and Buddhist Punk are two of the brands whose clients are mainly teenagers. Their collections were loaded with color and strongly influenced by rave culture and street fashion.

“It’s Nineties hip-hop meets 21st-century girl,” said Rupert Meaker, cofounder of London-based Buddhist Punk. “We are inspired by today’s Internet culture — music, urban tribes, ghetto sportswear, third-world pop. The concept has been catching on with the most experimental shops and has been successful in Malaysia, Japan, China and even in Arab countries. Europe, however, remains our most conservative market.”

The influence of urban fashion could also be felt in Brussels-based brand Omsk, specializing in embellished sweaters inspired by traditional Russian culture.

“We only started focusing on sweatshirts three seasons ago when we started noticing that they were selling noticeably better than the rest of the collection,” said brand founder Valeria Siniouchkina. “However, we don’t want to go along with the current sweatshirt hype, so we decorate them with rather chic, classic embroideries.”

So far, Siniouchkina said, this has been the brand’s bestselling collection.

“Buyers are looking for these kinds of accessible yet versatile pieces to position next to high-contemporary brands like MM6, Acne or Isabel Marant,” she said.

At Paris sur Mode, the focus was on wearable fashion, according to Iñaki Muñoz, cofounder of Bilbao, Spain-based brand Ailanto.

“Buyers have been interested in our most pared-down pieces, especially our coats, which look rather simple but mix textures of Lurex, mohair and wool,” he explained.

However, he added that the real stars of this winter’s trade show were knitwear and fur.

Eddy Rizal, chief executive officer of Rizal Fur, noted the emergence of a new type of customer.

“Clients are now younger, and they are looking for fun and new ways to wear fur as an alternative to the traditional mink coat,” he said. “This season, we are mixing materials and styles. Our best-sellers have been our oversized biker jackets in leather and shearling, and our knitted mink jackets, which come in jewel shades like sapphire blue and emerald green.”

At Designers & Agents, the mood was relaxed. Rustic-looking knitwear and easy, functional shapes were present at most exhibitors’ stands.
“Sweaters and chunky merino wool scarves have been the most successful items so far,” said Gail Travis, founder of New York-based brand New Form Perspective. “Petrol and cream tones have also been very popular, far more than black, for once.”

Sustainable fashion was also present at the show through brands such as New York-based Svilu.

“The interest in ethical clothing is growing slowly,” said Britt Cosgrove, cofounder of Svilu. “But primarily, people come to us because they like the clothes. The fact that we make them out of sustainable fabrics and recycled materials is certainly a plus for our clients, but the important thing nowadays for an ethical brand is to offer appealing clothes.”

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