Anne Fontaine’s models marched down the runway in mostly black-and-white looks from her spring collection for what was the designer’s first U.S. show.
The event, Thursday evening, was held at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., with the company planning to hold another show Stateside in New York later in the year.
Fontaine, known for her signature white shirt, didn’t depart from the inspiration she typically draws from nature, working with a neutral color palette.
“I work with the artisans in France and [Italy],” she said. “For me, it’s very important to keep the culture from France.”
Highlighting that artisan work is something she hopes to continue through the expansion of her French artisanal line Les Precieuses. Shoes is another category she also looks to grow moving forward.
The setting at South Coast, though not common for a fashion show, was the result of a relationship established between the designer nearly 19 years ago when the shopping center wooed her to come and open a boutique there. It’s still operating along with 21 other boutiques in the U.S. and another 43 outside the country.
“It’s a long story [with] South Coast Plaza,” Fontaine said of her location choice. “I think the customer here is very [mindful of] fashion and I spend a lot of time here to shop with my girls and I love the mix of brands.”
That the designer chose to show her current collection is part of the broader trend and discussion for the industry around the buy-now-wear-now model to accommodate the immediacy more and more consumers expect across their daily lives.
The designer noted the rapid rate at which technology is changing everything from the runway and on down to retail.
“I think [the buy-now model is] much better in [the] sense [that] today everything goes so fast with the media and people want to have everything in the same time they see it,” she said. “I think it’s also very important because people when they do fashion shows they do [it] one year before and the mass market brands just copy it. It’s a little bit of a pity.”
To create an even stronger link between the brand and consumers, the company finally pulled the trigger on e-commerce in the U.S. last year and is set to launch e-commerce in Europe in July. The online business will continue to be a main focus for the designer moving forward, something she said she was a bit hesitant about initially.
“In the beginning I [thought] it [would be]…impossible for me to sell my clothes in the e-shop but it’s not,” she said. “People really buy. It’s incredible.”