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PARIS — The international marathon of fashion weeks ended on a high note in Paris, with retailers lauding shows that were as business-minded as they were creative.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“If the mission of designers is to offer collections that are viably commercial, inventive and transformative, then the Paris fall collections were a tremendous success,” said Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Canada’s Holt Renfrew.

“It is a city that opens our eyes and our wallets,” agreed Jeffrey Kalinsky, vice president and designer fashion director at Nordstrom. “No words can describe the excitement of the Chanel show. The set was extraordinary — definitely worth a plane trip from anywhere in the world — and the clothes were right on.”

Echoing many retailers, Stephen Ayres, head of fashion at Liberty in London, said he’s going into the fall season confident, and budgets are planned up in line with this. “Paris is a really important city for us businesswise. Across our designer brands, we place 75 percent of our overall budget in Paris,” he noted.

See the Fall 2014 Paris Collections Here >>

Cindy Ho, fashion director at Kuwait-based 360 Style, said her budget for Paris collections went up this season by 20 percent. She noted she visited many showrooms “and found some creative designers from Asia who are doing excellent work. You can feel the new wave from Asia is extremely strong.”

Laura Larbalestier, buying director at Browns in London, also said the budget for women’s ready-to-wear in Paris has grown 20 percent.

“Customers are so aware of shows we are already receiving requests for certain looks, which makes our job easier,” she said. “You have so much customer feedback early and people are really forward thinking about their wardrobes. The early indications are for embellishments and the item coats, so that will be a big part of our budget.”

However, Polat Uyal, chief merchandising officer at Turkish retailer Beymen, said he anticipates a “more challenging” 2014 after registering strong increases the past two years.

He also characterized the Paris season as “eclectic,” given the variety of prints, fabrics and shapes, and no compelling direction in accessories. “There is no single theme dominating the collections, but ideas floating around and completing each other,” he said.

Retailers cited outerwear and knitwear as standout categories, with knit pants, fuzzy sweaters, fur, lightweight dresses, longer skirts and sensible shoes, especially sneakers, among key items.

Collections by Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Haider Ackermann, Dries Van Noten, Dior and Valentino earned wide praise.

Here’s more of what buyers had to say:

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus:
Sound off:
“I am so enthusiastic after a long five weeks of collections by what we have seen in Paris. Because the collections were so strong, and designers infused such amazing color and beautiful embellishment, it’s been a good week. I also liked Saint Laurent. I am a huge fan of what Hedi [Slimane] is doing there, but the models were very far, so you lost some of the nuances in the clothes.”
Trendspotting: “I am loving all the brocade, the plissé and the metallic touches. It’s so great to be in a city where color has made such an important statement. The ornamentation has been absolutely mesmerizing and is something customers will crave — feathers, beads and embroideries are creating this melting pot of a multicultural global wanderer. It’s one of our favorite trends.”
Favorite collections: Balenciaga, Dior, Chanel and Nina Ricci.

Nicole Fischelis, group vice president and fashion director, global forecasting, Macy’s:
Sound off: “This season, there are many different options and lifestyles, sometimes combined together, and we go from urban to even military and poetry and artistry and revamped classicism. There is no one answer anymore, which we’ve seen for the last few seasons, but it’s confirmed.”
Trendspotting: Pleating, ruffles, sheer effect and texture, metallic, bright hues. “The idea of surface and texture is very important, whether it’s knit or woven.” Strong outerwear, long skirts and dresses, layered looks like skirts over pants.
Favorite collections: Chanel, Lanvin, Dries Van Noten, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Guy Laroche and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.
Emerging talents: Cédric Charlier, Masha Ma, Damir Doma, Dévastée, Anthony Vaccarello, Sharon Wauchob, Manish Arora and Undercover.

Jennifer Cuvillier, style director, Le Bon Marché:
Sound off: “Creativity and novelty were strong this season, and designers have presented new, exciting collections with key items. We feel very confident. With the amazing creativity we will bring to our store next season, we will try to transmit the excitement we felt during the buy to our clients and propose them unique fashion experiences.”
Trendspotting: Coats, shearling, fur and knitwear. “We loved the mix of winter material bringing a novelty silhouette. The knit in total look is definitely a strong fashion silhouette. Down jacket material also appeared on the catwalk, a novelty this season used in a new, elegant way.”
Favorite collections: Sacai, Céline, Haider Ackermann, Stella McCartney, Dries Van Noten, Dior and Kenzo.
Emerging talent: Gauchère

Judd Crane, director of women’s wear, Selfridges:
Trendspotting: “Knitwear is being used in some of the most exciting ways we’ve seen in years. Almost without exception, knit pieces were used as statements — the extreme contorted wool looks at Comme des Garçons being the most literal example, through to luxuriously realized chunky-knit trousers at Stella McCartney.”
Favorite collections: Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons, Undercover and Sacai.

Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president of fashion direction for women’s ready-to-wear, Bloomingdale’s:
Sound off: “Paris is always exciting because there is a celebration of young designers, spectacular theater at the shows and brilliant new ideas from the established fashion guard as well. Paris keeps you on your toes and the energy is electric.”
Trendspotting: “I’m loving the unapologetic use of embellishment for the season on everything from outerwear to skirts and blouses. I love the focus on special knitwear pieces giving a new face to the category. And although there was still a very dark palette out there, I feel a fresh color palette for fall and am excited about the range in color. In Paris, shades of green and winter white certainly had a moment.”
Favorite collections: Chanel, Cédric Charlier, Carven, Dior, Nina Ricci and Stella McCartney.


Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente, Milan:

Sound off: “Paris is never conventional and this season did not disappoint. Young talents are also on the rise, the LVHM Prize being very interesting in showing a new generation of creative minds.”

Trendspotting: “Masculine tailoring is the backbone of many collections, giving an edge of sharpness to a feminine silhouette. Outstanding outerwear. A Sixties Mod feel, slim and linear, and an artsy touch of Dada inspiration can be read across the season. On the softer side, knitwear is relevant, treated in many sensual, creative ways. Elaborated textures and embellishments keep clean lines interesting and inventive. Luxe sneakers and flats are key.”

Favorite collections: Céline, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Givenchy, Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Undercover, Sacai.


Pascale Camart, head buyer of women’s wear and accessories, Galeries Lafayette:
Sound off: “Paris has been energetic and upbeat, with inspiration drawn from a great mix between young and established designers to luxury brands. From an organizational point of view, it would be a dream to keep shows within the city center. On a humorous note, it would be great to hear the sound of clapping again at shows to show appreciation. Everyone is so busy taking videos and pictures of the finale exit that one young designer asked me, ‘Did anyone clap?’ — so terrified was he that he had not successfully wowed his customers and the press.”
Budgets: “Rtw is more relevant, contemporary and more prominent in its own business right this season. Women want to be feminine, chic and individual, and want to express themselves outside of bags and accessories. We are ready to capture and expand a contemporary high-end customer. We are targeting a growth of rtw in line with the strength of collections this season.”
Trendspotting: Color; flat shoes and sneakers; outerwear, furs and high-necked turtlenecks; skirts in different shapes from pleated to princess to pencil.
Favorite collections: Dior, Kenzo, Céline, Givenchy, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Emerging talents: Jacquemus, Julien David and Risto Bimbiloski.

Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director, Barneys New York:
Sound off: “It’s been a more subdued week in Paris. The energy of change that carried recent seasons has transitioned into something calmer. In the showroom, we are confident in the development of the collections that we have seen. The designer rtw business has been very strong, and we feel the timing is right to grow emerging designers and to bring in new brands we are excited about to address opportunities in a focused way that will expand the business.”
Trendspotting: “We are keeping our fingers crossed for an early, cold winter. In each city, there has been a bold outerwear statement with an emphasis on furry textures, both faux and real. The belted robe coat feels fresh. Head-to-toe sweater dressing represents the cozy, layered look that we continue to see. There are so many great knit top and matching skirt or pant looks. The cape has been a strong silhouette on the runway, whether in coat, jacket or dress form. Tartan, plaid and buffalo check are the patterns of the season.”
Favorite collections: Valentino, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Yang Li and Isabel Marant; Delvaux handbags.

Laura Larbalestier, buying director, Browns, London:
Sound off: “Clients want the statement pieces, and Paris is always good for that. There’s a lot of focus on separates. I’ve never bought so few dresses! The investment piece will be the coat. The commercial potential is good, since everyone wants show pieces.”
Trendspotting: Coats, capes and skirts.
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Céline and Saint Laurent.


Sasha Sarokin, buying manager, Net-A-Porter, London:
Sound off: “A highlight for me was the Alexander McQueen show – absolutely magical. The only low point has been the inconvenient down pours in-between shows!”
Trendspotting: “Lots of coats in an array of different styles and fabrics, such as faux fur and shearling. Coats are also in pretty pastel palettes –  so refreshing compared to the darker pieces we usually see for fall.”
Favorite collections: Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Valentino and Sacai.
Emerging talents: “There are lots of new discoveries and we’re hoping to introduce lots of new Paris designers to the site, so watch this space.”


Polat Uyal, chief merchandising officer, Beymen, Istanbul:
Sound off: “Paris still leads the women’s fashion offerings with its positive attitude, energy and new ideas.”
Trendspotting: “Masculinity, mixtures of materials and prints, tailoring and urban looks are the most essential trends of the season. While outwear and knitwear are two important elements of rtw collections, it is hard to emphasize a certain direction in shoes and bags considering that these categories have not been that varied and strong since a while.”
Favorite collections: Haider Ackermann, Emanuel Ungaro, Givenchy, Christian Dior and Dries Van Noten.

Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction, Holt Renfrew, Toronto:
“We are in the process of expanding and elevating our network of stores across Canada, and our budgets reflect this growth.”
Trendspotting: “Sporty ease, gender ambiguity, fluffy knits, big furs, generous coats, longer lengths, Sixties Mod, melding seasons, winter florals, embellishment and feminine dresses. We are particularly excited to see an abundance of exciting high-performance sneakers and are aggressively going after that explosive category.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Lanvin, Céline, Kenzo, Schiaparelli, Sacai, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Akris and Chanel.

Eda Kuloglu, general manager of merchandising, Harvey Nichols Dubai and Bloomingdale’s Dubai at Al Tayer:
Sound off: “We can’t buy fall-winter easily because of the climate for us, but this fall-winter will be good, because there are many colors, light fabrics and prints. We were very happy with what we saw. We will definitely increase our budgets compared to last fall, by 10 percent. Usually in fall-winter, we try to keep our budgets flat.”
Trendspotting: “Bright colors and prints work well for our market. We used to buy prints from English brands, but now you see prints in many French brands as well.”
Favorite collections: Givenchy, Chloé, Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten.

Sarah Andelman, creative director and purchasing manager, Colette:
Trendspotting: “Lots of shearling and fun fur, Sixties influences, a sport-street touch.”
Favorite collections: Valentino, Junya Watanabe, Céline and Olympia Le-Tan.
Emerging talents: “Thanks to the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize, for which I sit on the panel, I discovered and liked the work of Julia Paskal from Ukraine. I’m also very excited about the upcoming launch of the Barrie cashmere collection. We continue to carry Atlantique Ascoli and Amélie Pichard.”

Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
Sound off: “We will be intensifying our business for several French brands as we continue to evolve our designer matrix.”
Trendspotting: “Textures continue to be one of the key trend messages of the season, with innovative fabric mixes, fur and furlike fabrications appearing throughout. Luxe outerwear in all shapes and forms has been a major statement — the cape is a must-have item. Layers of volume were contrasted by sleek tailoring. Fringe trims were the detail of the moment, along with elements of sparkle and shine.”
Favorite collections: Chanel, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Céline, Nina Ricci, Lanvin, Haider Ackermann, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen.

Helen David, fashion director of women’s wear, accessories, fine jewelry and children’s wear, Harrods:
Sound off: “One of the best Paris seasons ever. All the key trends were done beautifully. All shows came out with the best they have to offer and interpreted the trends in wearable, beautiful ways.”
Trendspotting: Leather, capes and black and white with injections of bright; chic yet comfortable footwear.
Favorite collections: Balmain, Dior, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Chanel and Valentino.

Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director, Hudson’s Bay Co.:
Trendspotting: “This season the luxe factor was amplified, with so many artisanal fabrications, clever crafted details, luxe furs, coats and sweater knits — even luxury shopping bags! Key trends included gorgeous coats, luxurious furs and shearling clothes and accessories, cozy knits worn head to toe, tailored jackets and pants, feminine silky dresses, an injection of animal pattern and a pop of patent.”
Favorite collections: Junya Watanabe, Dior, Givenchy, Anthony Vaccarello and Nina Ricci.

Emmanuel de Bayser, owner and buyer, The Corner, Berlin:
Sound off: “More and more clients come to our store flashing their mobile phones with lots of street-style images on their screens, saying, ‘This is what I want.’”
Trendspotting: “It’s somehow back to the Eighties. We saw a lot more skirts this season, and interesting outerwear that was less structured. Young brands such as Anthony Vaccarello had a lot of energy. We will stock up on parkas, shearling and fur outerwear, as well as knits. Black is still the dominant hue.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent and Isabel Marant.

Linda Dresner, owner, Linda Dresner, Birmingham, Mich.:
Sound off: “There is a strong push towards individual pieces. Everybody gets to choose who they’re going to be, instead of being dictated to. Originality is key, and we are finding more of it in Paris than anywhere else. “
Trendspotting: “It was mostly about the silhouette, a mix of slim and oversize that looked new and fresh, but wearable. We see longer lengths more often now. Heavy ribbing on the sweater and the oversize coat are also important.”
Favorite collections: Comme des Garçons, Haider Ackermann, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe and Maison Martin Margiela.

Laure Hériard Dubreuil, chief executive officer and cofounder, The Webster, Miami:
Sound off: “We found amazing commercial potential this season in all the brands. The beautiful colors at Dior will be great for our sunny Miami weather, along with the sexy skirts at Anthony Vaccarello and the neon high-tops at Chanel.”
Trendspotting: “Accessories and shoes are always strong for us. The jewelry at Aurélie Bidermann and the ‘grocery basket’ bags at Chanel are sure to be a hit. Julien David did some amazing colorful metallic clutches as well, in the shape of oil slicks, and we love the sparkly boots at Saint Laurent.”
Favorite collections: Dior, Chanel, Céline, Givenchy and Haider Ackermann.

Leila Yavari, fashion director,, Munich:
Sound off: “From a buyer’s point of view, this was an exceptional season. The best collections were artful but with an emphasis on tailoring rather than trend-driven gimmicks. Whereas Milan was about embellishment, Paris appears to be cleansing its palate. This was a thoughtful, sedate season with emphasis on texture and silhouette rather than ornate detailing.”
Trendspotting: Modern art, masculine tailoring and dark romance.
Business outlook: “We believe that our customers will definitely gravitate toward select must-have pieces. Customers are also checking out with more in their online baskets and moving away from buying strictly one designer. Lastly, people are traveling more — we’ve noticed an uptick in purchases sent to different homes and travel destinations.”
Favorite collections: Valentino and Céline
Emerging talent: Julien David

Justin O’Shea, buying director,, Munich:
Sound off: “I am like a kid in a candy store this week. To the extent that I am even staying out of the bar at Le Meurice (well, sometimes), just so I can concentrate twice as much on the buying.”
Trendspotting: Street couture, with a hybrid of luxurious embellishment, fantastic fur and divine artisanal workmanship crossed with flat boots, sneakers, hoodies and parkas; luxury loungewear, with oversize sweaters and couture knit dresses; patent boots and capes. “‘Reverse seasons’ are catching on. After Miu Miu’s fall show for summer ’14, designers are definitely wising up to the fact that the fall runways deliver in the peak of summer. Less coats, more legs. Everyone was jumping on the back of this. Street smart!”
Favorite collections: Haider Ackermann, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent and Valentino.

Laura Vinroot Poole, owner, Capitol, Charlotte, N.C.:
Sound off: “Our business is performing very well. The app that I developed, House Account, has become an incredibly important tool for our buying team in market because we can gauge consumer interest in real time. It’s the next best thing to our clients traveling with us to the showroom, and has really changed the way in which we work.”
Trendspotting: “It was exciting to see designers embrace the art of beautiful dressing. Everyone really did what they do best, averted difficult trends and created gorgeous, wearable clothing for women with real lives.”
Favorite collections: Valentino, Givenchy, Céline, Bouchra Jarrar and Saint Laurent.
Emerging talent: Stella Jean

Carmen Borgonovo, fashion director,
Trendspotting: “The skirt is still the hero item of choice, with lengths ranging from maxi and below-the-knee skirts to really short skater skirts. The longer lengths invariably had a nod to the Thirties and Forties silhouette. In terms of colors, earth tones — browns, khakis, rust, salmon and burgundy —combined with pastels. Fiery reds also featured heavily. Pop culture elements and details have been eye-catching, featuring knee-high boots and flats, a real Sixties revival. This will, of course, translate well onto the high street and prove very popular for everyone to buy into.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Carven and Acne.

Charlotte Tasset, general merchandise manager of women’s apparel, beauty, lingerie and children’s apparel, Printemps:
Sound off: “It was not a very creative season, but a very desirable and wearable one, and still a few amazing shows. Globally collections are quite balanced with the right price points. Designers have gone for what they do best, therefore there may be a lack of novelty or risk, but tons of bestsellers. Our budgets are generally stable or up. The shows were better organized than in previous years, but it’s still a very heavy schedule.”
Trendspotting: “A return to the Sixties; strong presence of leather and fur, and still a lot of masculine and oversize coats as seen in New York, London and Milan. A return to a strong self-confident woman: She’s well traveled, educated and powerful.”
Favorite collections: Givenchy, Anthony Vacarello, Kenzo, Junya Watanabe, Haider Ackermann, Cédric Charlier and Balmain.
Emerging talent: Léa Peckre for Maison Lejaby

Kelly Golden, owner, Neapolitan Collection:
Sound off: “This season, the Paris collections were incredibly uplifting, unrestrained and commercial. Absent were the austere, dark, formal looks typical in Paris. The runways were bright, colorful and heavily layered.”
Trendspotting: “We saw lots of interesting mixes of springlike colors done up in fall fabrics. The biggest trend of the season was fur, and it will be a big business for fall, especially after the polar vortex. Head-to-toe knit looks were another big trend, as were heavily layered looks, calf-length and asymmetric hemlines, sensible shoes, embellished sneakers and textured fabrications.”
Favorite collections: Haider Ackermann, Lanvin and Valentino.

Sarah Easley, co-owner, Kirna Zabête, New York:
Trendspotting: “You will have no choice but to get a new coat for fall. We loved and bought from Dior, Céline and Chloé. These are not the gray flannel coats, but embellished with a fur collar, giraffe print or ostrich feathers. There was a lot more texture this season, as well. We saw slightly Eighties-inspired silhouettes, great men’s wear tailoring and fringes at Valentino and Lanvin. Also, knitwear is major. We stocked up on knitted pants and sweaters, which felt new and fresh at Céline and Stella McCartney. “
Favorite collections: Lanvin, Dior and Valentino.

Elizabeth Lepore, owner and buyer, Jimmy’s in Brooklyn and The Hamptons:
Trendspotting: Relaxed sportswear, chic grunge, embroidered and sequined eveningwear.
Favorite collections: Isabel Marant, Anthony Vaccarello, Bouchra Jarrar, Balmain and Elie Saab.

François Schweitzer, general manager of business development, Chalhoub Group Retail:
Sound off: “Our women’s activity is performing well, but more in accessories than in ready-to-wear.”
Trendspotting: “The season was very homogenous, with a strong presentation of the trends, like pastels and khaki. Customers in the region respond very well to color.”
Favorite collections: Dior, Chanel and Céline. For accessories, Delvaux and Saint Laurent.

Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente, Milan:
Sound off: “Paris is never conventional and this season did not disappoint. Young talents are also on the rise, the LVHM Prize being very interesting in showing a new generation of creative minds.”
Trendspotting: “Masculine tailoring is the backbone of many collections, giving an edge of sharpness to a feminine silhouette. Outstanding outerwear. A Sixties Mod feel, slim and linear, and an arty touch of Dada inspiration can be read across the season. On the softer side, knitwear is relevant, treated in many sensual, creative ways. Elaborated textures and embellishments keep clean lines interesting and inventive. Luxe sneakers and flats are key.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Givenchy, Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Undercover, Sacai.

Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong:
Trendspotting: “Outerwear reigns at the top of every collection with amazing coats and fur, literal ‘head-to-toe knitwear,’ masculine tailoring, Forties and Sixties touches, along with sharp shots of bold color.”
Favorite collections: Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Sacai, Valentino, Balenciaga, Junya Watanabe, Céline and Miu Miu.

Cindy Ho, fashion director at 360 Style, Kuwait:
Sound off: “Compared with Milan, there are some houses in Paris missing the entry-price products which can cater to a younger clientele that the houses want to deliver the message to. Also, the show schedule is long but the trade fairs are short. I wonder if there is any way to make the schedule more productive — for instance, to have the trade fairs after the shows.”
Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Lanvin and Junya Watanabe.

Ikram Goldman, owner, Ikram, Chicago:
Sound off: “I can’t even breathe it was such a great season. [To the people who said otherwise], they’re so wrong. They’re bored and they need to quit their jobs and go find something else to do.”
Budgets: “It is virtually impossible not to increase the budget because fur was everywhere. We probably will increase our budget not in quantity but in numbers, because I’m sure the furs are going to be much more expensive.”
Trendspotting: “Things were either superchiffon or superthick. The in-between crepes and drapes are gone. What you found are really incredible, reworked knits in the shape of a little, skinny legging that comes out wide from Céline, to a really incredibly chiffon tweed top from Martin Margiela. It’s a spread in weights and fabrics, but the biggest trend that came down the runway was furs. Every collection had a fur.” Favorite collections: Nina Ricci, Junya Watanabe, Sacai, Givenchy, Céline and Alexander McQueen.
Emerging talents: Muveil and Danielle Romeril.

Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman:
Sound off: “Thank heaven for Paris, where the show is a party you don’t want to miss, and you leave remembering why you fell in love with fashion in the first place. ”
Trendspotting: “The city for us was less about the commonality of trends — though outerwear strength and longer lengths were prevalent — and more about designers and houses pushing themselves to exciting and sophisticated heights.”
Favorite collections: Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Chanel, Dries Van Noten, Junya Watanabe, Céline, Balenciaga and Valentino.

Jeffrey Kalinsky, vice president and designer fashion director, Nordstrom:
Trendspotting: “Leggings, parkas, knits of every variety and strong color will ring the register for fall 2014. We loved shorter lengths in skirts and dresses, and the influence of streetwear on the collections and the Mod influences.”
Favorite collections: Céline, Junya Watanabe, Haider Ackermann, Saint Laurent and Chanel.

Stephen Ayres, head of fashion, Liberty, London:
Trendspotting: “The statement coat was prevalent in most collections, so I think this will be a commercial driver through the fourth quarter. Separates are still key, and I expect to see a strong growth from skirts — both the fuller silhouette and longer lengths as well as wide leg trousers, either full length or culottes. We will be sourcing good quality fake furs to cater for the huge trend in fur while still respecting our no-fur policy.”
Favorite collections: Haider Ackermann, Dior, Lanvin and Valentino.