Rounding out a whirlwind show season, blustery Paris captivated buyers with a fresh breed of French chic that came in a uniform of shorts and blazers, and a broad shift toward dressier and sexier styles.
“It all comes together in Paris,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president, women’s fashion director and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman.
Topping the list of buyer favorites — by a long shot — was the Valentino lineup, which prompted an outpouring of praise for Pierpaolo Piccioli’s modern and feminine proposition.
Retailers also singled out Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Dior and Loewe, and were energized by Dries Van Noten’s surprise collaboration with Christian Lacroix.
Balenciaga led the pack for show venues. While monochrome looks were a big hit this season, simplifying silhouettes, when applied to a show venue — the brand’s was blanketed in a stark blue — it had an altogether different, slightly disconcerting effect. But the Eiffel Tower for Saint Laurent continued to enchant, with added excitement from the natural elements — gusts of wind and sheets of rain.
On the wane? Logos and streetwear, clothing laden with embellishments.
“Heavy-handed, overly embroidered crystal things — that doesn’t feel like it’s happening right now,” said Elyse Walker and Philip Manghisi, respectively founder and senior designer buyer of Elyse Walker stores.
Downpours did not dampen enthusiasm — courtesy umbrellas, it seemed, were available at every show — and many retailers flagged intentions to spend.
“Paris is where the meat is; we are able to splurge on the most expensive steak in the house,” said Jeffrey Kalinsky, vice president, designer fashion director, at Nordstrom, and president and founder of Jeffrey.
Here, a roundup of buyer reactions to the Paris shows:
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, women’s fashion director and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman:
Paris crystallized the season for us. It all comes together in Paris. We’re definitely allocating more of our spend here based on some exceptional collections which were pitch perfect both editorially and commercially.
Favorite collections: Dior’s week opener stayed with us all week with its delicate balance of nature and couture. All the natural fabrics and motifs are timely and emotional. Dries Van Noten was an all-time favorite. The surprise collaboration with Christian Lacroix produced an extraordinary collection which fused the DNA of two design greats masterfully and the showroom was a candy store of desirable options. Valentino and Loewe were also standout shows we’re getting behind.
We won’t soon forget the blue acid spiraling convention hall show from Balenciaga with its incredible casting and menacing soundtrack. The collection thoughtfully underscored [Demna Gvasalia]’s codes for the house and one of the season’s most important tensions, the pull between masculine and feminine codes, self-expression and anonymity. Big thanks to Rick Owens for transporting us again into another unexpected dimension. Chanel had an important moment closing the week with a lightened, youthful evolution.
Top trends: Trends we’re all in on: puffy accessories, sculptural volumes, handcrafted elements, deconstructed utilitarian and jacket dressing.
Talent scouting: We really got a lot of newness out of Paris! The mutibrand showrooms were very productive for us. It’s too soon to say who will make it into the budgets, but we’re motivated to pick up numerous brands this season.
Nathalie Lucas Verdier, general merchandise manager women’s apparel, Printemps:
Favorite collections: Lanvin, Loewe and Nina Ricci with romantic, poetic silhouettes in a modern way. Alexander McQueen and Valentino, who both demonstrate their couturier talent in different registers, and a mastery of volumes.
Top trends: Femininity continues to make inroads, with a discreet return but with sexiness — “bringing sexy back!” Minimalism gained ground, from street style to the catwalks, with neutral tones, and the great return of the total white look, and more purified propositions (also seen in Milan with Gucci and Prada). No hesitating — you have to show your legs. We saw a lot of suits with Bermuda shorts, as well as shorts and Capri pants at Chanel. Shoulder-work was also in action. Large, flowing dresses were romantic. Huge and chunky shoes continue from last season. Golden boots, platform shoes.
Must-have Item: Bermuda shorts and chunky shoes.
Best venue: Balenciaga. Again, a strong and radical setup for Demna Gvasalia: after the obscurity of last season, here it was stark and blue, with everything the same color — from the chairs to the walls, which felt unsettling. And Saint Laurent always dazzles with spectacular shows at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
Is your open-to-buy up or stable?: Up.
Say bye-bye to: Unsurprisingly, streetwear continues to disappear from the catwalks, ceding to a more relaxed, effortless and easy chic. Opulence also gave way to minimalism.
Talent scouting: Bruno Sialelli at Lanvin, noticed last season and who again proved his talent with a perfectly constructed collection.
Elyse Walker, founder, and Philip Manghisi, senior designer buyer, Elyse Walker stores, Los Angeles:
Favorite collections: Valentino was the show. It was everything we were thinking about this season — solid colors, a bit minimal, volume. We also liked the Stella McCartney and Givenchy shows for classic-fitting blazers and trousers, blouses, skirts and florals. At Saint Laurent there was a lot to buy — the styling was casual, which resonates with our customers. It felt different from other Anthony [Vaccarello] collections.
Top trends: Shorts; square-toes; big clutches; tailoring, including oversize blazers (ours will be slightly less). Citrus colors, the yellows to mustards, limes to pistachios and the oranges to burnt terra-cotta.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral: All up.
Talent scouting: Regina Pyo shoes, L.A. brand Staud for clothing and accessories, and Matériel Tbilisi for the fresh point of view and color.
What are you saying goodbye to? Animal prints. We will always have a touch, but we’re slowing it down. Streetwear. Heavy-handed, overly embroidered crystal things. That doesn’t feel like it’s happening right now.
Roopal Patel, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
Favorite collections: Paris really delivered the magic, romance and creative spirit with an incredible lineup of shows for spring. Sarah Burton’s McQueen was an exquisite masterpiece and had all the elements of what makes a spectacular show — beauty, craftsmanship and imagination. It was incredibly touching when she took the runway with her entire team at the close of the show.
Pierpaolo’s Valentino collection was such a dream. From the crisp, white dressing that opened the show, to the bright gowns that closed the show; there was no shortage of amazing fashion. Maria Grazia’s collection for Dior brought together the concept of sustainability and couture design. She transported us with a magical lineup of tailoring, dreamy couture dresses, tie dye and ombré denim. Not to mention the standout lineup of accessories and shoes to match.
The Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix collaboration was an unexpected surprise. The show was poetic, romantic and dreamy with the mix of neoclassical baroque meets punk. Other standouts were Balenciaga (the futuristic finale gowns were a knockout), Givenchy, Isabel Marant, Saint Laurent, Celine, Loewe and Thom Browne.
Top trends: Clean lines, trench dressing, the new neutrals, sharp tailoring, the boxy blazer, the short suit, the short, ‘white out’ – lots of white dresses, the flowy dress, Seventies bohemian glam, blue jean baby, utility/cargo dressing, jungle prints, capes, sequins, tuxedo dressing, embroidered evening, volume, evening, polka dots, crochet, lace, orange, pink, pastels.
Must-have item: Anything head-to-toe Valentino.
Best venue: Models walked among mesmerizing bubbles at the Rick Owens show, giving it a tranquil feel with a sublime backdrop.
What are you saying goodbye to?: Logos. Less is more this season.
Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew:
Favorite collections: Valentino continues to be the place where workmanship, sophistication, and modern femininity converge. This collection offered the best of summer whites, bright color, prints, and strong accessories. Saint Laurent is the go-to for the best youthful evening clothes. Le Smoking, although an old code of the house, felt extremely new and something young girls will dream about. It didn’t hurt to have a light show at the base of the Eiffel Tower with one of the season’s strongest casts of models. Noir Key Ninomiya was about experimentation which will influence the rest of the industry for seasons to come. The shapes and the techniques were extreme and really blurred the line between art and clothing.
Best venue: The rooftops of Paris recreated at the Grand Palais for Virginie Viard’s Chanel collection.
Top trend: Bold, punchy colors were seen at almost every collection this season. Dries Van Noten’s collection in partnership with Christian Lacroix featured saturated pinks, yellows, and blues — it was a standout collection. Botanical prints in bright, bold hues — from tropical leaves and monkeys at Valentino to the garden-inspired prints at Christian Dior. Soft tailoring, more specifically seen in the short suit with a more fluid and oversized ease from Givenchy or in a tweed playsuit variation at Chanel. Washed neutrals in soft linen jackets or gauzy knits from Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen paired with cotton poplin shirting. Raffia and woven accessories, like bucket bags, straw totes, and hats were seen everywhere, including at Loewe, Christian Dior, Valentino and Miu Miu.
Must-have items: Patchwork trench jacket from Junya Watanabe, raffia V-Ring tote from Valentino, the CDG Nike sneakers, ruffled jacket from Rick Owens, Dior’s lattice cut-out boots, the leopard sequin-embellished coat from Balenciaga, a sequined short suit from Saint Laurent, Chanel tweed romper, Louis Vuitton’s giant egg bag, the dip-dyed feathered dress worn by Kaia Gerber at Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten mixed-media Lacroix top and skirt.
What are you saying goodbye to?: Show crashers who disrupt the fashion presentations — especially at Chanel.
Are your budgets up, down, or neutral?: Budgets are stable.
Jay Bell, executive vice president, general merchandise manager, women’s, Barneys New York:
Favorite collections: We loved Celine, Loewe, Dries Van Noten, Margiela, Thom Browne and Valentino in a class of its own.
Top trends: Familiar denim styles from Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Celine look fresh, elevated, chic. Dresses with volume that exude a free-spirited, confident elegance.
Must-have item: Tailoring from Celine. Boots from Saint Laurent. Crisp, white poplin anything from Valentino. Its opening passage is a masterclass in the cloth.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral?: Budgets reflect the power of the collections.
Best venue: Saint Laurent, bar none. It’s hard to beat the view of the glittering Eiffel Tower against the runway’s clever light show (and Naomi [Campbell] closed it with fireworks!)
Talent scouting: Dauphin, a newcomer to the realm of celebrated Place Vendôme jewelers. It epitomizes the discreet, modern elegance we favor.
What are you saying goodbye to?: Goodbye to haphazard “street style”, hello to understated, nonchalant chic.
Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director, Matchesfashion.com:
Favorite collections: Valentino, Margiela, Noir Kei Ninomiya, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga.
Best venue: I loved the Valentino venue, it was set in a beautiful garden and we could see all the residents around us sitting on their balconies watching the show.
Top trends : We have seen a lot of polka dots, daisies and neon. We saw so many different takes which was quite refreshing as the trends can appeal to everyone.
Must-have items: Miu Miu’s daisy clog.
Laura Larbalestier, group fashion buying director, Harvey Nichols:
Favorite collections: Paris wasn’t a coherent season, it was many individual messages so it’s hard to name a standout. However, there is a new bourgeois trend.
Must-have item: Bermuda shorts and plenty of tailoring
Best venue: Saint Laurent.
Talent scouting: 1/OFF Paris for a modern take on up cycling.
What are you saying goodbye to? Sneakers.
Tyler Franch, fashion director, Hudson’s Bay:
This season, Paris delivered thoughtful storytelling through the exceptional fashion.
Favorite collections: Maison Margiela, Paco Rabanne, Mugler.
Top trends: The Paris spring shows brought us tailoring in every iteration, on and off the runway. From twisted, bold shoulders and over-sized shapes to minimalist and refined silhouettes. The Sixties and Seventies inspire the update on the new casual – denim, soft pleats, floaty dresses. Across all categories, shades of green were everywhere – from apple at Kwaidan Editions and Balenciaga to dusty mint on utilitarian looks at Stella McCartney, while a clean neutral pallet continues to feel fresh when monochromatic or paired with brights or pastels. Leather continues its dominance on the runway with notable highlights coming from brands such as Nanushka, who offers a vegan option. Crafty details such as raffia, crochet and rope felt new again and this season’s square-toed heel, mule sandal and structured cross-body are all accessory must-haves.
Best venue: Being transported to a surreal and fantastical world in the gardens of Versailles for Thom Browne’s whimsical runway show.
Talent scouting: Excited to have launched Rokh at Hudson’s Bay, The Room for fall. With his sophomore collection, Rok Hwang continues to show great promise by being a forward thinking designer who also understands what a woman wants — a sensibility that further proves his time at Celine has left the designer most primed to fill the void left by Phoebe Philo’s departure.
Jeffrey Kalinsky, vice president, designer fashion director, Nordstrom, and president and founder, Jeffrey:
Favorite collections: Dior, Dries Van Noten, Valentino, Chanel, Celine.
Top trends: Tailoring continued to be a strong trend. Denim seems to be more important than ever, not just as a jean. Denim is going to retail super well. I believe strongly that all of the animal prints are going to sell well. Floral prints, lights, fluorescents.
Must-have item: The one must-have items is going to be a spring boot. [Otherwise], a great tailored jacket, a white poplin shirt, a boot-cut jean.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral? Paris is where the meat is, we are able to splurge on the most expensive steak in the house.
Best venue: Saint Laurent
Talent scouting: Not this season.
What are you saying goodbye to? This is a personal thing, but I think it’s time to say goodbye to puffy shouldered dresses.
Riccardo Tortato, men’s fashion director, Tsum Moscow and DLT St. Petersburg, director of e-commerce:
Favorite collections: Valentino, Saint Laurent.
Best venue: Balenciaga, Saint Laurent.
Top trends: Man blazer, shirts, sandals.
Talent scouting: Bruno Sialelli for Lanvin.
Must-have item: Valentino fluo dress.
What are you saying goodbye to?: Streetwear and sportswear
Are your budgets up, down or neutral?: Up.
Elizabeth and Dominick Lepore, owners and buyers, Jimmy’s Brooklyn and the Hamptons:
Favorite collections: Valentino, Saint Laurent.
Top trends: The empowered woman was first and foremost this season in Paris; embracing the power of the new femme fatale. Taking control of her look, the season brought over the top drama in bold neon colors with sparkle and silhouettes reminiscent of the Eighties and Nineties. Celebrating the fun of summer travel and parties, exposed bras and corsets were prevalent on most runways. Feathers were everywhere with whites in both shorts and jumpsuits, crystal and sequin embellishment and chainmail dressing on every girl.
Must-have item: The old designers have returned to the scene and showcased wearing a pant suit for the most classic of looks. On the other end of the spectrum, wear something that has a large shape and volume to it, whether it is an overexaggerated bow or ballgown to an over-the-top sleeve on a dinner blouse.
Talent scouting: Each season we come to Paris to find the next up-and-coming big name. We found talent from across the globe from Barcelona, Istanbul, Beirut, London, Vienna, Russia, Colombia and more. It was exciting this time around to meet with young talent that trained under the big established houses where they found new light designing collections of their own.
What are you saying goodbye to? Athletic wear and the expected and traditional! Allow yourself to enjoy fashion, take a risk and wear what actually walked the runways buying from boutiques that showcase the passion of the designers.
Nelson Mui, fashion merchandising director, Lane Crawford:
Favorite collections: Loewe, Valentino, Dries Van Noten, Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Nina Ricci.
Top trends: Lace/craft details: The most definitive trend of the season. Our customers love feminine looks, but done in a modern way. Lace, tulle, eyelets, crochet, embroideries, roped details done in relaxed, unexpected, and twisted ways fits with the renewed interest in craftsmanship and handcraft details. Loved them at Loewe, McQueen. Couture shapes, volumes, draping: The exploration of some of the couture techniques, shapes, draping and embellishment from the Eighties [and] Nineties looks fresh but our customers like those ideas with a more relaxed and modern interpretation for today. Best when served up with more modest or fluid fabrics such as poplin or linen, but finished off with unexpected glam finishes or proportions. [for example at] Valentino, Nina Ricci. Leather: In full swing, with leather shirting, shirt dresses, skirts, culottes leading the way. Though it’s appeared in prior seasons, it’s now a trend staple.
Talent scouting: Koché…Loved the new polished, elevated direction, with less of an emphasis on streetwear than previously.
Jessica Crawley, head of women’s wear, Al Tayer Retail (women’s wear divisional merchandise manager, Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale’s and Ounass):
Favorite collections: Valentino was not only one of my favorite collections, but I felt it was one of the most representative of the season. Designs were thoughtful, elevated and the collection was wearable. Alexander McQueen was another favorite. The construction, the detail and the movement; Sarah Burton created in every piece is something incredible. Alessandra Rich never disappoints, but spring was particularly strong with exaggerated ruffles with models blinged-out from head-to-toe yet it somehow looked effortlessly cool. At Balenciaga, there was something for everyone, Gvasalia’s signature bold shoulders and of course an element of fun with flouncy ball gowns and a Hello Kitty bag. As the venue suggested, it was really about today’s modern woman and power dressing.
Top trends: Suiting is back in a big way and was present in almost all collections. Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten and Saint Laurent focused on structure and opulence while at Chloe and Stella McCartney there was a more relaxed vibe. Solid colors have replaced florals. A spring/summer trend report is never complete without the signature floral print, but this season it was all about pops of color. During PFW, designers did not shy away from color with neons from Valentino, pastels from Stella McCartney and Chloe, jewel tones from Balmain and Sacai, and hot pink from Off-White.
Must-have item: A continuation from fall 2019, the must-have item for spring 2020 is definitely the square toe sandal. For those who were not quite ready for it last season, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral? Neutral for designer [pieces] but way up for contemporary [looks].
Best venue: Alexander McQueen. The venue was intimate, the live orchestra was magical and the collection was breathtaking. Balenciaga – it was worth the drive to this venue, which was set in a political arena with every inch of the room covered in blue.
Talent scouting: Sandra Mansour and Nafsika Skourti are two Middle Eastern designers to watch. Their Paris showrooms were buzzing with buyers and influencers.
What are you saying goodbye to? We are stepping away from leopard, but not quite ready to say goodbye just yet. For now, our focus has shifted to zebra and python prints. We are saying good-bye to logos and streetwear though.
Federica Montelli, head of fashion, La Rinascente:
Favorite collections: Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Dior. Dries Van Noten with its one-time liaison with Christian Lacroix was a brightly colored dream. Bruno Sialielli’s Lanvin convinced once again, as well as Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne. Saint Laurent delivered once again a great spectacle and a convincing collection.
Best venue: So many great venue choices here in Paris it is hard to choose from. I would certainly mention Dior’s sustainable garden, Courreges’ futuristic outing on Canal Saint Martin, Chanel’s reconstruction of the Parisian rooftops, Balenciaga’s disturbing blue spiral at the Cité du Cinéma.
Top trends: Seventies, with elongated suiting, high-waisted pants and flowy long sleeve dresses. A focus on strong shoulders and more fitted waist. Volume was a strong story, with ample sleeves still being a strong trend, but also taffeta dresses showcasing dramatic shapes, trains and fluffy tulle dresses. Also in Paris the leitmotiv of the week was sustainability, from Dior’s garden to Stella McCartney. White versus black versus bold colors was a formula often used on the runway.
Talent scouting: Casey Cadwallader’s Mugler was once again a collection that pushed the boundaries, in this case of inclusivity, and is a name to have. Noir’s Kei Ninemiya was the most interesting discovery of this fashion week. On another note, the relaunch of Patou was also on point.
Must-have item: Seventies-inspired suiting, moccasins — flat or heeled, Bermuda shorts — tailored or in denim. A white dress.
What are you saying goodbye to? Oversized blazers, the shapes are now more fitted at the waist, longer and with strong shoulders. No sneakers were spotted on the runway!
Are your budgets up, down or neutral?: Up
Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, Mytheresa:
Best venue: The parliament setting at Balenciaga was amazing.
Favorite collection: Maison Margiela and Bottega Veneta really stood out.
Top trends: For sure short suits, soft tailoring and Nineties Japanese minimal.
Must-have item: Bottega Veneta’s oversized bag. This will surely be heavily featured in editorials and on Instagram.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral?: Up. As always.
Pascale Camart, buying director for women’s ready to wear and lingerie, Galeries Lafayette:
Favorite collections: Nina Ricci: very feminine, chic but also a bit fun. Valentino: delicate couture. Loewe: a luxury and designer brand. Saint Laurent: the comeback of a nice Marrakech inspiration.
Top trends: Raffia everywhere — shoes, bags earrings. All in white, all in black: very chic. All in beige, very BCBG style, and neon colors with a lot of flash, pink and green.
Must-have item: The black satin dress and suits, and the very short shorts or short skirt. Oversize blouses and man-size jackets. Sandals made of rope, cord. Umbrellas offered in most of the shows.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral? Always up.
Best venue: Nina Ricci, Patou, Nanushka.
Talent scouting: Kwaidan Editions.
What are you saying goodbye to?: Street wear attitude.
Maria Milano, head of women’s wear, Harrods:
Favorite collections: Dior for its sublime silhouettes and easy-going elegance, Loewe for its spectacular line-up of white dresses, Hermès for its slick leather separates, Valentino for its pops of color, Alexander McQueen for its utter romance — Sarah’s best collection yet — and Alessandra Rich for her usual naughty-but-nice sensibility.
Best venue: Hands down Saint Laurent’s moonlight parade under the Eiffel Tower. A spectacular front row, supermodel lineup and fabulous eveningwear was the perfect kickoff to day one in Paris.
Top trends: A continuation of the trends we have been seeing all season: clean lines, tonal neutrals, pops of orange and yellow, tailoring, shorts, waistcoats. Paris has also served up polka dots, trench coats galore and fresh white dresses as seen at Valentino, McQueen and Loewe.
Talent scouting: We’re excited to have picked up Bernadette as well as some great new brands for our evening and contemporary departments.
Must-have item: A white Loewe dress — perfect for summer.
What are you saying goodbye to?: Trainers. It’s all about a neutral slide with a manageable heel.
Denise Magid, executive vice president and general merchandise manager, ready to wear and concessions, Bloomingdale’s:
Favorite collections: I loved Dior. The romanticism of the intricately detailed dresses paired with flat espadrilles or hiking boots was a highlight of the week. Other favorites were bold, colorful dresses interspersed among voluminous white ones at Valentino and McQueen’s use of leather, lace, and lace-up details. Another standout was Stella McCartney and her take on feminine suiting.
Top trends: Shorts continue to be must-have items for spring while feminine dresses made with lace, sheer fabrications and puff sleeves also ruled the runway. We’re continuing to see suiting and leather separates in shows as these styles become wardrobe staples. Minimalism and the use of white have also been popular this week. In accessories, hats dominated the runways; everything from a bucket hat to a wide brim. In handbags, the hobo shape continues to be strong.
Lisa Aiken, Fashion Director, Moda Operandi:
Favorite collections: Valentino, Junya Watanabe, Loewe, Balenciaga, Isabel Marant, Miu Miu, Marine Serre, Y Project, Alessandra Rich.
Top trends: Interesting necklines, new approaches to tailoring, soft summer leather, cotton poplin and shirting, flashes of neon, dramatic proportions and silhouettes.
Must-have item: The re-worked trench has become a modern staple designers continue to showcase. Also, cotton poplin shirting, shorts and new versions of the blazer. On the accessory front, the soft clutch, including the reintroduction of the Flamenco at Loewe.
Are your budgets up, down or neutral?: Overall, our business has been growing.
Best venue: The staging of Balenciaga was incredible. The Parliament-like setting, diverse casting, music, and the scale of the production showcased the theme of ‘power dressing’ in the best light.