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Buyers Praise Paris Fashion Week for Salable Artistry

Top trends include shine and metallic; pleats galore; longer skirts, and ethnic influences.

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Céline RTW Spring 2014

Giovanni Giannoni

Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2014

Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2014

Giovanni Giannoni

Valentino RTW Spring 2014

Valentino RTW Spring 2014

Giovanni Giannoni

Givenchy RTW Spring 2014

Givenchy RTW Spring 2014

Giovanni Giannoni

PARIS — Individuality, artistry and a global outlook.

This story first appeared in the October 7, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Buyers said those were the main strengths of Paris Fashion Week, and they lauded the French capital for an energetic season that offered a range of buying options for spring.

“Paris has been the best week of the four cities,” said Justin O’Shea, buying director at MyTheresa.com.

Nine days of catwalk shows ended here Wednesday, with designers parading collections influenced by streetwear, sports, the Eighties and the Nineties, buyers noted. Top trends include shine and metallic; pleats galore; longer skirts, and ethnic influences.

“In terms of collections, I would have to say the wearability is beyond. Every piece had an interesting detail, every piece was made in exquisite fabrics,” said Ikram Goldman, owner of Ikram in Chicago.

“We feel very positive about spring 2014,” said Carmen Borgonovo, fashion director at My-wardrobe.com. “The collections were strong and commercial, and our customer will have plenty to choose from. There was a healthy balance of print and chic, minimal silhouettes.”

Designers showed their talent for showmanship, with memorable displays by Rick Owens, Chanel, Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton and Dior, among others.

See All the Spring 2014 Collections From Paris Here >>

“I’ve felt that the energy in Paris this season has been really positive, with shows offering a little more drama and performance than before. It will take a lot to top the Rick Owens show, which was a piece of fashion history,” said Stephen Ayres, head of fashion at Liberty in London.

The week benefited from unseasonably warm weather, which was good news for street-fashion photographers, but not for the people attending shows in overheated venues.

“A note to the Chambre [Syndicale] — air conditioning is not a sin. There have been a few collections where we actually thought we were going to expire and call the ambulance,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus.

“If anyone wants to consider the comfort of editors and retailers, we would welcome it, because when your brain starts to close down from lack of oxygen, it’s hard to appreciate all the fine quality of the beautiful clothes,” he added.

Here’s more of what retailers had to say about spring:

Pascale Camart, director of women’s wear, Galeries Lafayette, Paris:
Sound off:
“It was a season full of energy, with a revival among young designers creating a balance with the more established houses. The Paris schedule is very heavy — too heavy, in fact. We wish designers would stop showing at the Halle Freyssinet and other too-distant venues.”
Trendspotting: Pastels, fir greens, reds and blues, and all-black or all-white; metallic and lacquer; lace, or lace on tulle used as insets; one-shouldered tops; maxiskirts, often pleated, and very short skirts, often worn with reworked sweatshirts; backpacks; floral decorations.
Favorite collections: Céline, Chanel, Valentino, Acne and Kenzo.
Business outlook: “Our budgets continue to increase. We are seeing a real pickup in business. Paris is a real center for luxury, designers and trade.”
One to watch: Julien David

Nicole Fischelis, group vice president and fashion director, global forecasting, Macy’s, New York:
Sound off:
“I thought it was a very good season, whether with the established designers or the new guard. There is no other country in the world that can offer 23 countries showing in one week, and in addition, having all those creative showrooms like the London Show Rooms, the CFDA showroom and the Designers Apartment showroom, with a lot of new rising talent.”
Trendspotting: “The influence of art came through in a lot of collections, and some ethnic influences. It’s a kind of very individualistic attitude coming through. The sport influence is major everywhere, but what’s interesting is how it’s fused, not just with high-tech materials and technical materials, but also combined with lots of femininity and print and shine.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Lanvin, Rick Owens and Nina Ricci.
Ones to watch: Cédric Charlier, Anthony Vaccarello, Le Moine Tricote, Damir Doma and Nicolas Andreas Taralis.

Hanae Nakajima, women’s buyer, United Arrows:
Sound off:
“The Paris collections were very inspiring with a lot of variety. There was power again.”
Trendspotting: “Volume and layering provided a sporty chic feeling. The colors were relaxed; there was clarity and lightness in the fabrics. Some collections had Nineties culture influences.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Lanvin, Carven, Sacai and Acne.
Business outlook: “Our budget has remained stable. United Arrows’ retail business has been growing and is doing well. United Arrows Ltd. is opening its first overseas store in Taiwan this October, and we hope that this store will bring more international attention. The Japanese sales tax will increase next spring, so we will watch carefully how shoppers are affected by it. Also, the Japanese yen is weaker versus the euro this year, and we have to adjust the retail price range in Japan.”

François Schweitzer, general manager fashion and retail, Chalhoub Group Middle East, United Arab Emirates:
Sound off:
“I wasn’t completely bowled over, but it was a season of very pretty ready-to-wear. What was important in Paris was that the brands showed slightly fewer handbags than usual. There was a greater focus on ready-to-wear, and Paris brought some very likeable touches of color at Chanel, Dior and Céline.”
Trendspotting: Black and white and graphic effects; lamé and metallic effects; lagoon and pink tones.
Favorite collections: “Céline was very pretty because it was completely different from what we have seen in the past, so that was quite surprising. It marked a departure from all the purity of the previous seasons. It’s a collection that is really gaining in confidence. Dior is also very pretty right now.”
Business outlook: “Our budgets are up slightly. The Middle East is quite confident at the moment.”

Emmanuel De Bayser, owner and buyer, The Corner Berlin:
Sound off:
“This was a superb season with a new silhouette on the rise. Still sexy and rock ’n’ roll, but with longer skirts. It will take a while for the customer to adjust to this, but the change is good. We need something new in fashion.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Dries Van Noten and Saint Laurent.
Business outlook: “Our budget for French collections is up. Our shop is performing very well — sales in September jumped 30 percent versus the same month last year. This is partly due to the fact that customers identify very quickly with the showpieces. Women come with pictures to the store and say, ‘This is what I want.’”

Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president of designer merchandising, Nordstrom, Seattle:
Sound off:
“Paris Fashion Week always leaves us feeling exhilarated. There were so many new ideas that were both provocative and influential, and this kind of creativity is what makes Paris so important to the world of fashion. Our budgets will be up in all the places that wowed us.”
Trendspotting: “I think that separates will drive our business. Skirts were particularly strong, and there were many diverse offerings, from supershort to midlength and long.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Chanel, Dior and Saint Laurent.

Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong:
Sound off:
“Paris is incredible at providing that ability for dreams, inspirations, making us think and reengage in a season in a fresher way, planting seeds and ideas for the future.”
Trendspotting: “A prevailing sense of lightness and fluidity, sports influences and technical innovation of print and fabric. Lengths are elongating; pleats; shine, and metallic and gold. I loved seeing flat shoes and sandals. Categories driving our business will be skirts, shirting, flat shoes, sandals and sneakers. Bags are bigger, softer, unstructured, folded over and held like a clutch.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Sacai, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Chanel.

Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager of women’s and men’s apparel, Printemps:
Sound off:
“The collections had great energy with designers such as Céline freshening up their DNA. What [Phoebe Philo] did in terms of renewing her key items, silhouettes and colors will set the tune for other brands.”
Trendspotting: “It was interesting that a lot of the brands proposed superflat shoes this season, which gave the clothes another point of view. This was a white and ecru season with touches of color. The prints have changed — before it was about single pictures, now they are all over with an uptick of classic flowers. The skirt is coming back and, with it, tops. Our new brands will include Cédric Charlier and Anthony Vaccarello.”
Favorite collection: Céline
Business outlook: “Worldwide, the economy is suffering, so we are paying more attention to the French customer. We understand that to develop turnover we need to make our store really attractive, so we are working a lot to improve our services, not just the offering.”

Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction, Holt Renfrew, Toronto:
Sound off:
“Luxury collections have elevated their brands from ‘just clothes’ to collections of wearable art. Each piece becomes a collectible piece showing the artistry of the designer. This notion of wearable art now takes luxury collections out of the seasonal cycle as seasons meld, and the line blurs between day and nighttime dressing.”
Trendspotting: “Our shopping list consists of special statement lightweight toppers; shirts cut with precision; feminine dresses; leather pieces; new cropped, boxier jackets; full, soft pants; softer, longer skirts, and matching two-piece dressing as a new interpretation of a suit.”
Favorite collections: Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Dior, Céline, Givenchy, Lanvin, Kenzo, Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney.

Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director, Barneys New York:
Sound off:
“Paris feels really exciting. There were a lot of shows where you could feel the electric energy in the moment. Rick Owens is one we won’t forget, the soul behind the show and the spirit behind the performance. Kenzo and Céline were really dynamic shows. There was a fun sense of energy and ease, compared to a few seasons ago where it was a competitive energy.”
Trendspotting: “Pleats. They’re everywhere: micro pleats, crinkle pleats. Also different interpretations of ruffles that are less frilly and more romantic and modern, like those that Dries used. The shirtdress continued from New York, London and Milan.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Cédric Charlier, Nina Ricci and Balenciaga.

Stephen Ayres, head of fashion, Liberty, London:
Trendspotting:
“Pleats were prevalent in most shows, and this is a trend we will buy into across the board, as it translates commercially and the femininity will resonate well with our consumer. Categorywise, skirts will be a big driver next season, as well as a continued growth in sweats.”
Favorite collections:
Dries Van Noten, Céline and Alexander McQueen.
Business outlook: “Business was great through spring-summer 2013 and remains positive into early autumn-winter 2013, so our spring-summer 2014 budgets are being planned up in line with this. The brands showing in Paris make up a large part of our advanced contemporary and designer portfolio, so budgets are looking healthy for this mix.”

Linda Fargo, senior vice president fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman:
Sound off:
“There was a marked exuberance and optimism to key collections. Both art and the artistry of fashion prevailed.”
Trendspotting: “Pan-ethnic inspirations, artistic references, shaped volumes, shine and shimmer, shirtdressing, elevated sport elements and floral motifs.”
Favorite collections: Chanel, Céline and Dior.

Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president, fashion director, Hudson’s Bay, Toronto:
Trendspotting:
“Sport, femininity and artistic expression were the main messages. There was also an undercurrent of house party/rave attitude with tribal/ethnic influences that will influence advanced contemporary markets. Shirting is key, metallics, the item skirt in longer lengths or ubershort, exotic flowers, techno fabrics, ruffles and lace, pleated details and loads of fringe.”
Favorite collections: Lanvin, Dries Van Noten, Rochas, Nina Ricci, Céline, Del Pozzo and Atto.

Carmen Borgonovo, fashion director, My-wardrobe.com:
Sound off:
“There seemed to be a dichotomy between two very different sensibilities: tribal female empowerment and polished feminine silhouettes in soft pastels.”
Trendspotting: “Strong silhouettes for the season include voluminous and body-skimming below-the-knee skirts and dresses, pleating details, culottes and an oversized rounded shoulder in tops and sweatshirt shapes.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Dior, Dries Van Noten, Vilshenko and Isa Arfen.

Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president and fashion director, women’s ready-to-wear, Bloomingdale’s:
Sound off:
“Hands down the Chanel show. The art exhibit was inventive and pure fashion fun, and the show was fantastic. Also, the flowers at Dior — the visual was something I will never forget, a true fashion week ‘wow.’”
Trendspotting: “The City of Light brought a lot of embellishment and shine for spring. There were also new bold prints and color, as well as a nice continuation of athletic-infused fashion.”
Favorite collections: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cédric Charlier and Dior.

Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
Sound off:
“With designers balancing theatrical presentations with saleable clothes, there will be plenty for us to buy here. A little ventilation or air-conditioning wouldn’t hurt. Something needs to be done to make the steaming-hot venues more comfortable, particularly at the tented Espace Ephémère in the Jardin des Tuileries and the Ecole de Médecine.”
Trend spotting: “Shine and metallics were one of the major trends here in Paris, with an abundance of sequins, lamé fabrications and metallic leathers and jacquards, even for daywear. Shirts and shirtdresses continue as a key trend item, offered with special details in new silhouettes. Fringe appeared for both ready-to-wear and accessories. Artful prints popped in bold primary colors. The Eighties were a point of reference for some designers, and tribal inspirations were throughout. The shoes with little socklets looked great at Chanel and Saint Laurent.”
Favorite collections: Nina Ricci, Junya Watanabe, Givenchy, Sacai, Céline, Chanel, Valentino and Alexander McQueen.

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus:
Trendspotting:
“It’s a story of two ideas this season — the more pared-down, architectural approach, which has a Nineties riff to it, or the idea of maximalism with a scope for opulence of jewels, gems, crystals and paillettes, the more the merrier. I am insane for the color, especially the continuation of all the pinks on the runway. Pink is always popular at retail. I feel very strong about pleats, especially the long pleated skirts, when paired with the midheeled shoe, or a flatter sandal, and the beautiful romantic lace we have seen the entire season and which has been brought to a crescendo in Paris, reembroidered, metallicized and reapplied with flowers.”
Favorite collections: Givenchy, Chanel, Céline, Nina Ricci, Dries Van Noten and Dior.

Helen David, head of women’s wear and fine jewelry, Harrods, London:
Sound off: “If you could have the gowns and cocktails from Valentino (as well as a fringed croc tote), your daywear and fun sexy minidresses from Balmain, and your lunchtime and suiting needs from Chanel, I would say you would be one of the best-dressed women in London. And if you mixed them all up it would be even better.”
Trendspotting: “African and tribal influences were seen at Alexander McQueen and Givenchy. Saint Laurent, Balmain and Roland Mouret revisited the Eighties for a new take on power dressing. Dior and Balenciaga continued the floral and pastel trends much evident in New York, London and Milan.”
Favorite collections: Valentino, Chanel and Balmain.

Elizabeth Lepore, owner, Jimmy’s, Brooklyn and The Hamptons, New York:
Sound off:
“We are avoiding the basics and concentrating on the cutting edge, dynamic and creative new ‘must-haves’ for both sportswear and eveningwear. For the young, Isabel Marant delivers a cool, sweet and strong fashion-forward collection.”
Favorite collections: Azzedine Alaïa, Anthony Vaccarello, Chloé and Vionnet.

Laura Larbalestier, buying director, Browns, London:
Sound off:
“I think the collections in Paris have been very clear. The trends and commercial pieces are easy to spot. I think it will be a very strong season.”
Trendspotting: “It will be a pleated, metallic spring-summer.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten and Céline

Ikram Goldman, owner of Ikram, Chicago:
Sound off: “I absolutely loved this season — loved it — in that you had designers like Rick Owens putting no models on the runway, using real people, which translates to what’s happening in humanity, society and culturally. So that was really the highlight of Paris for me — the Rick Owens fashion show.”
Trendspotting: “If you don’t buy an embellished piece for day this season, you’ve missed a whole season. Everything is embellished — either sequined or beaded or embellished somehow with a feather or lace.”
Favorite collections: Nina Ricci, Azzedine Alaïa and Sacai.

Raya Dernaika, co-owner of Plum, Beirut:
Sound off:
“I think we are kind of overwhelmed with the many things and the many ideas and the many shows. But also we need to feel like the pieces are more realistic and more wearable.”
Favorite collections: Givenchy and Céline
Business outlook: “Considering the situation of our country, we are cutting back all budgets, unfortunately. We are doing that for all the brands.”

Justin O’Shea, buying director, MyTheresa.com:
Trendspotting:
“The overriding Nineties vibe is probably the most important feeling of the season. A lot of the shows are only doing flat shoes. It’s a continuation of street and couture — that was something Givenchy was doing for fall with the sweater and the couture skirts — that we’ll be following from a styling point of view more than a trend point of view.”
Favorite collections: Valentino, Givenchy and Haider Ackermann.

Polina Kitsenko, creative director, Podium Market Fashion Group, Russia:
Trendspotting:
“Regarding colors, I think we will have quite a joyful season. There is lots of glitter and shiny fabrics, which we haven’t had for a few years, and a lot of embroideries with shine. Red is becoming stronger. We’re going to have lots of pleats, which our customers love, as well as the continuation of the peasant style and lots of lace, which are really flattering and easy to wear. We’ve also seen the continuation of the rock ’n’ roll theme launched by Saint Laurent.”
Favorite collections: Rochas, Isabel Marant and Nina Ricci.
Business outlook: “I don’t think that the crisis has really left us. The luxury market is loaded with goods, so you have to be really careful with your selections. Our major luxury customers are having a cool-down. People are no longer buying ‘It’ bags, for example, they are going more for evening clutches. Affordable fashion, at the contemporary level, is really growing. High-budget consumers are mixing and matching, because they want something different.”

Jennifer Cuvillier, style director, Le Bon Marché, Paris:
Sound off:
“Paris was all about emotion and creation, for a powerful and sensitive woman. We loved the season and really feel a strong energy from designers.”
Trendspotting: Metallic and iridescent fabrics; transparency, cutouts and pleats; southern tribal inspirations, and modern folk. “Paris confirmed the athletic direction we saw in Milan, with the highlighting of beautiful technical materials inspired by couture, as well as a soft, rounded architectural inspiration with bright-colored modern art painting pieces like at Céline or McQueen.”
Favorite collections: Givenchy, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Julien David, Sacai and Haider Ackermann.

Laure Heriard Dubreuil, chief executive officer and cofounder of The Webster, Miami:
Sound off:
“[The commercial potential is] very high; it felt very light and fresh with a lot of pastel colors as well as primary colors — very good energy! I felt like it was a much more peaceful, positive and relaxed season. The weather was absolutely amazing, and it felt really nice to look at the collections in the same weather we’ll be wearing them in.”
Trendspotting: Shirting, pleated lamé, metallic fabrics and colorful prints.
Favorite collections: Céline, Givenchy, Haider Ackermann, Delfina Delettrez, Julien David, Chanel, Dior, Lanvin, Saint Laurent, Chloé, Olympia Le-Tan, Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Cédric Charlier, Anthony Vaccarello, Balmain and Pierre Hardy.
Business outlook: “[We’re] very confident. Spring-summer is always a very good season for us, plus we’re opening a second location in Miami — where the weather is warm all year long.”

Linda Dresner, owner, Linda Dresner, Birmingham, Mich.:
Sound off:
“This season provided many options. This is particularly important for independent stores. Too much sameness discourages people from shopping.”
Trendspotting: “We love the idea of longer silhouettes and pleated skirts; skirts in general are back, at times with asymmetrical hems. There was a lot of veiling — under the jackets or over the pants. Soft colors, including pale gray and off-white, and lingerie looks with peekaboo lace tops were a key trend, while skinny jeans and leather with metallic touches remained.”
Favorite collections: Junya Watanabe, Céline, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann and Saint Laurent.
Business outlook: “Our budget is the same, but there are three to four new designers I’m interested in carrying. We need a little freshness. And Paris is catching up compared with London. We saw some up-and-coming designers that provided a fresh look and feel. I’m sure they’re going to be important, such as Atto and Léa Peckre.”

Sarah Easley, co-owner, Kirna Zabête, New York:
Sound off:
“This was a fantastic season. One of our favorite shows was Valentino — timeless, real and satisfying. I want to buy everything.”
Trendspotting: “We saw a lot of wearable pleats, which is new. A new length of skirt was rendered very wearable with asymmetries at Céline and Lanvin. Lurex and shine were also key. We will avoid buying black with this nice palette of rose, gray and raspberry that we saw. In terms of fabrics, mousseline was light and airy and there was lace again. The key theme was chic modesty — covered but light.”
Favorite collections: Valentino, Céline, Lanvin and Dior.
Business outlook: “We moved into a 10,000-square-foot new store at the end of June, so our sales are up 30 percent versus last year. We also added new designers, which was another reason why our business is very, very strong.”

Cindy Ho, fashion director at 360 Style, Kuwait:
Sound off:
“The collections are getting enormous, and it is hard to cover all the shows and trade shows. I suggest the trade shows should be split into two and not all on the same dates. It would [allow] the buyers to have more time to cover [it all].”
Trendspotting: “There are two extreme trends: couturelike craftsmanship and very easy-going, laid-back collections, but which still have a twist.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Junya Watanabe and Valentino.
Business outlook: “We are strong in spring-summer business and increase our budget [for it].”

Innis Liu, merchandising manager, Swank, Hong Kong:
Sound off:
“I will wrap up the season with more up-and-coming and emerging designers, including Anthony Vaccarello, Dion Lee, Gabriele Colangelo, etc. They are pretty new and niche in the fashion market, and that’s what most shoppers are looking for at the moment, something new and not too mainstream and overexposed.”
Trendspotting: “The dress will be filling wardrobes next season, especially those with asymmetric lengths and uneven hems. Also, pleats and 3-D details. Small purse-bags are cool for the season. Everything oversize is now passé. For shoes, wedges and platforms are definitely coming back. Less is more for jewelry.”
Favorite collections: Anthony Vaccarello, Paule Ka, Dior and Cédric Charlier.

 

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