PARIS GETS COMFORTABLE
Byline: Jennifer Weil
PARIS — Comfort was a key theme for a lively edition of the Salon International de la Lingerie here last week.
There were also two disparate trends in silhouettes. Simple, versatile looks were the focus of some firms, while an abundance of more elaborate, couture-inspired ideas was evident among upscale vendors.
Despite the troubled European economy, the four-day show, which ran through Jan. 27, generated an 11.5 percent increase in visitors over a year ago. They totaled 18,571, including buyers, suppliers and mill representatives. Non-French attendees were up about 18 percent. The largest segment of foreigners was Italian — 1,203, up 5.2 percent. Belgium ranked second, with 879 visitors, and Spain third, with 814. Not surprisingly, there was a drop of visitors from Germany and Austria, two European countries that have been especially hard hit economically these days. The number of U.S. attendees increased 9 percent, to 307.
“Overall, the morale is better this year than last. I think that people are more positive in their outlook,” said Jehan Quettier, show director.
Several U.S.-based or owned lines were showing for the first time, including Warnaco Group’s Calvin Klein Underwear, Vanity Fair and some of Sara Lee’s brands, such as Playtex, Dim and Rosy, Quettier said.
In all, the show had an international assortment of 420 brands represented by 330 exhibitors from 12 countries in Europe and North America.
Discussing the trends, Sue Chidler, marketing manager of British foundations maker Gossard, said, “People are not willing to forgo comfort for esthetics these days.”
Tactel and microfibers are gaining in importance as consumers seek out comfort in foundations, she said.
The comfort idea was apparent at French foundations firm CiDessous, where a top show item was a lightly quilted bra and panty set of microdenier Modal and Lycra spandex.
Along with comfort, simple silhouettes — a paring back of ruffles and laces in a trend some called minimalism — were also apparent.
“This year’s minimalist movement reflects the hard economic times that have hit most of Europe,” said a spokesman for Barcelona-based Andres Sarda, a maker of innerwear and swimwear. One best-selling style for Sarda is a black thong-back bikini with matching push-up bra in polyamide, cotton and elastic.
Simply styled sleepwear was another idea. Italian maker Verde Veronica reported strong sales for its spare sleepgowns done in a textured black and white viscose and polyamide.
Calvin Klein Underwear — one of the top examples of minimalism — decided to debut at the salon to spark European exposure, said Terri Speiser, vice president of sales and marketing. She noted that the launch of the line’s ad campaign in France was timed to coincide with the trade show. Posters were displayed at the salon, as well as in French metros.
“The show has been a 100 percent success for us. The exposure the salon has given Calvin Klein is astonishing,” Speiser said.
In addition to the simple silhouettes, there was some interest in high color.
“There is an emergence of strong colors, especially in the blue and green shade ranges,” said Carole Schmitt Bonnery, product manager at CiDessous.
Meanwhile, couture-inspired pieces were hardly overlooked in high-end lines.
“It’s been a very good show for us,” said Fanny Liautard, designer of the upscale Paris line that bears her name. “The boutiques typically take orders at the show, while department stores usually take orders afterwards.”
Ninety percent of Liautard’s collection is exported, of which 80 percent goes to the U.S.
Liautard’s said her best-booking items were a little black silk chemise patterned with tiny hologram rectangles and a long, ecru silk georgette sleepgown detailed with flower motifs. Much of her collection is of silk mousseline.
At Vannina Vesperini, another Paris firm, a floral-print bustier and coordinating silk briefs sold well, as did a silk mousseline kimono edged with marabou, reps said.
Other ideas generating interest included sheer looks and briefs that resembled little shorts with low-cut waist treatments at Dim. At Warner’s, reps said the reaction was strong to a line of foundations, daywear and sleepwear with the Marilyn Monroe label.