A global gallery of retailers choose their favorite single collection of the season. Top vote-getters Dries Van Noten and Chanel got three nods apiece.
This story first appeared in the April 14, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue: “The Chanel shopping center show was this season’s standout and is sure to be remembered for years. Just when we thought Mr. Lagerfeld could not top last season’s ‘Art Gallery’ concept, he’s done it again. Placing an interlocking CC logo on what appeared to be an ordinary box of Kleenex suddenly made it the world’s most desirable box of tissues. Awe-inspiring stage set and hugely imaginative interactive installation aside, there were beautiful jackets and luxurious coats in the collection that are certain to be on our customers’ wish lists for fall. We all coveted Chanel tweed dreadlocks in our hair after the show and were longing for the comfort of those metallic leather-trim sneakers.”
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus: “Mary Katrantzou in London. A decided departure from her signature digital prints, Mary’s witty interpretation of old-world, heraldic coats of arms as patches was rejuvenated, reinvented and made modern through current-day symbols and objects, creating a collection that was more than magical. Clever and charming, robots, sale signs, televisions and more, mixed with traditional icons that were embroidered, beaded and crafted in crystal on pleated and lace dresses, decorating mink sweatshirts and adding a symbolic sense of humor to sequins made a sophisticated and frankly, sassy, collection—much like its creator.”
Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction, Holt Renfrew: “Dries Van Noten continued to delight with his memorable collection. This bold-and-beautiful collection defined modern glamour. Championing creativity and emotion, this collection spoke to an emphasis of sharp masculine tailoring that melds beautifully with lightweight femininity. Delicate embroideries, lush decoration, vivid colors, floral prints, bold textures, fabric contrasts and generous volumes turned each item into a stand-alone art piece to be collected and cherished for seasons to come. Dries Van Noten skillfully transcends gender and seasons. He understands beautifully fashion in the 21st century.”
Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford: “Hands down, Givenchy. Riccardo [Tisci] showed what a truly remarkable designer he is. It takes such a deft hand to pull off the weaving of delicacy, femininity of laces and silk dresses and skirts and nuanced tailoring and strong leathers, all held together with the thread of bold Bauhaus-style bands of colorful leather and fabric. The knitwear with these bands was pulled down to the hips in a louche way. Elegant, sophisticated, luxurious, very French—sensual and erotic—women will love him for it. Nothing got lost in the amazing styling, the silk stockings, the makeup—it was flawless. Tisci showed extraordinary power to captivate. Bravo.”
Nicole Fischelis, group vice president, fashion director global forecasting, Macy’s: “The Chanel show to me was a true ‘moment’ just because it was beyond fashion. It was a humorous as well as intellectual approach to today’s reality, even in the luxury world. In terms of fashion, the idea of lifestyle ‘fusion’ was evident in amazing coats, outerwear, fabulous knits, shine and iridescence, textural effects, new and unexpected artistic colors, mood and a strong new active-leisure statement. Monsieur Karl Lagerfeld did it again!”
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman: “Givenchy had everything you could want going for it. It was sharp and romantic, edgy and beautiful. It was an unexpected and original vision. Counterintuitive and yet so natural…details to die for included zippers. The collection had so much range! I could envision an amazing array of types of women walking out in it and making an incredibly stylish impression.”
Charlotte Tasset, general merchandise manager, Printemps: “Christopher Kane, because his show was rich with ideas and because he offers a unique mix of clothes both experimental and utterly desirable, much like Nicolas Ghesquière did before him. This is an interesting brand with strong potential.”
Polat Uyal, chief merchandising officer, Beymen, Istanbul: “Saint Laurent. Hedi Slimane definitely presented a powerful collection. We’ve finally seen the result of his consistent efforts for the past few seasons. The theme was pop-glam and the era was mid-Sixties. A biker jacket here, a cape there, and the glittery party frock. These are the items Turkish women love. Saint Laurent shoes and bags have been a hit at Beymen and after seeing this collection, the ready-to-wear will be as well.”
Jeffrey Kalinsky, vice president, designer fashion director, Nordstrom: “I never thought I could love Chanel even more than I did last season. The Grand Palais was set up like a grocery store—the ‘set’ was so overwhelmingly happy. All the product was branded with Chanel. It was an over-the-top kind of fabulous, and then the clothes came out. From the trainers on the feet, there was this whole idea was that this is our life, this is every day, and this is how Chanel does it. There were iridescent leggings and Lurex leggings underneath the outfits, great colors and swing coats. Women across the world who buy gorgeous clothes end up at the grocery store at some point. It was influenced by the street and by reality. It was worth the plane ticket to fly to Paris just for that show. The clothes were amazing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director, Barneys New York: “The collection that still resonates after a month’s journey is Dries Van Noten. It was visually captivating. The vibrant colors, graphic motifs and mash-up of textures…the seeming randomness of it all was perfect. Walking through the Dries Van Noten exhibition at the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs, it was clear that any of the pieces that went down the runway will be relevant and just as beautiful 30 years from now.”
Coco Chan, buyer for international designer collections, Harvey Nichols: “Valentino. Each season, the collection continues to evolve. Besides the gorgeous eveningwear we have come to expect, we [saw] fabulous wardrobe-building day pieces that put the collection within better reach of those with a ‘normal’ lifestyle, which is obviously great news as Harvey Nichols is opening a corner for Valentino this summer.”
Kazuyoshi Minamimagoe, senior creative director, Beams: “At Sacai, elegant styling was perfectly balanced with a sporty taste. To see this kind of Japanese sense gaining deserved attention during Paris Fashion Week made it a memorable collection. This is the real ‘cool Japan.’”
Innis Liu, regional merchandising manager, The Swank, Hong Kong: “The only one I was really into this season is Dion Lee. The Swank Hong Kong is always the pioneer for scouting and grooming new talents from all over the world. Dion, a native of Australia, has created such a wonderful collection by showcasing a womanly wardrobe with his signature architectural designs. Dion has indeed presented the modern way of being chic and sleek.”
Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s: “Michael Kors’ fall runway was wildly romantic and feminine; it was the combination of dreamy textures and layering that resonated with me the most. Michael’s fall woman can look feminine and cozy in comforting fabrics, but also chic and elegant in over-the-top luxurious furs. Standouts included longer fluid skirts paired back to perfect sweaters and tailored blazers, larger-than-life furs grounded back to real-life skirts, all-enveloping knitwear that looked like it had been touched by grandma’s knitting needles and the most elegant winter white peacoat. The models were not only beautiful, but they had an air of happiness that did not go unnoticed.”
Helen David, fashion director, Harrods: “Balmain is always a first favorite and didn’t disappoint this time. I absolutely loved the injection of khaki, which was fresh and very current, as well as the more ladylike tailoring.
Emmanuel de Bayser, owner and buyer, The Corner, Berlin: “Dries Van Noten. With an exhibition at the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs, Dries Van Noten’s acclaimed work is on everyone’s mind. His fall collection is a perfect translation of his remarkable talent. Prints, stripes and colors. Van Noten is a master of reinterpreting these codes in his own way and giving customers perfectly recognizable, yet very subtle fashion pieces.”
Kelly Golden, founder, Neapolitan Collection: “Derek Lam’s well-edited [collection] was full of unpredictable color combinations—some of the best and most interesting of the season—that gave a modern jolt to his sportswear separates. His knitwear was right on trend for fall, and his loose silhouettes gave the collection a commercial ease and wearability. Accessorized with his mink clutches and slouchy boots, Derek’s collection encompasses everything that is cool for fall without trying too hard.”
Tracey Cheng, head of merchandising, women’s wear, I.T, Hong Kong: “Kenzo. Fresh colors, amazing prints and very feminine silhouettes. There were very strong skirts and they managed to do some dresses that are quite evening, yet very wearable.”
Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente: “Céline. It’s the perfect marriage of art and commerce.”
Stephen Ayres, head of fashion, Liberty: “What drew me to the Haider Ackermann collection was Haider’s loyalty to a silhouette that has now become his signature. The men’s wear fabrics were used to create beautiful floor-grazing coats, slouchy sweaters and matching trousers. The dresses were by far the coolest and most understated of the season.”