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WWD Week in Review 10/2/09

The top stories for the week ending Oct. 2, 2009.

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Paris Fashion Week Gets Off to a Strong Start

Paris Fashion Week began with several strong showings. Gareth Pugh’s spring collection rolled in like a soft Gothic fog. In his collection for Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière went back to his audacious roots, in a dazzling display of chic that flaunted rock ’n’ roll bravado and edgy futurism. And at Nina Ricci, Peter Copping delivered a buoyant premiere. (Click to see runway videos, complete party coverage, backstage beauty and Fashion Scoops.)

From Sexy to Romantic, Buyers Praise Milan Fashion Week

Whether fembot or uberfeminine, the collections on view during Milan Fashion Week hit the right note with buyers and had them looking forward to spring. “The Milan collections felt more commercially relevant than in recent seasons: either hot and sexy or light, fluid and romantic,” said Jennifer Wheeler, vice president of designer apparel at Nordstrom. (Click to see all the Milan Fashion Week coverage.) At the much smaller Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week, Spanish designers came up short on edge, long on déjà vu — and commerce was clearly on their minds.

Uniqlo's Comps Jump 32 Percent

Uniqlo’s same-store sales in September jumped 31.6 percent, getting a boost from a string of national holidays and cooler weather in Japan. Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. said the number of consumers at its 695 stores rose 22.8 percent in like-for-like terms. The average spending per customer was up 7.2 percent as shoppers snapped up fall items like synthetic leather jackets and flannel shirts. The strong results came on the heels of a new Uniqlo flagship opening in Paris, the celebration of which involved a sake ceremony hosted by founder Tadashi Yanai and actress Lea Seydoux, one of the faces of Uniqlo in France, to bring good fortune. (Click to see images from inside the new flagship and the opening party.)

With Consumers Wary, Fashion Industry Faces Long Road Ahead

A handful of new reports painted a dim picture for retail and apparel after the nadir of the recession. Consumer confidence dipped unexpectedly this month, and 60 percent of retail finance chiefs said they feel excess inventory will pose a bigger risk to sales than stock shortfalls this holiday season. Luxury retailers, too, are scrambling — in as dignified a manner as possible — to hold the attention of well-heeled shoppers who aren’t as immune to recessions as once thought. To examine challenges facing the luxury sector, WWD hosted a forum titled “Luxury Redefined: Strategies for Success in the New Economy.”

Everyone's Doing It: Brands Take on Social Media

Once reluctant to cede control, brands and retailers from low to high are embracing social media and using it to boost sales and brand awareness. Having a presence on the top five social sites — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and YouTube — is de rigueur. The top luxury fashion brands on Facebook in terms of fans are Gucci, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Coach and Prada (although the Prada page is an unofficial one). A few companies this week alone expanded their online presence. Louis Vuitton announced it would stream its ready-to-wear runway show. Etienne Aigner launched its flagship retail venue online. And Italian brand Meltin’ Pot established its first stand-alone branded store, also online.

Sonia Rykiel to Design Lingerie for H&M

Picking up the pace of its designer collaborations, fast-fashion giant H&M selected French designer Sonia Rykiel to create a lingerie collection for holiday retailing. The collection is to be launched Dec. 5 in 1,500 H&M stores worldwide, and also at Rykiel boutiques — the first time a guest designer for H&M will do so. The French firm counts 44 boutiques worldwide, along with 52 shop-in-shops.

Kim Kardashian Discusses First Scent

By her own admission, Kim Kardashian’s debut fragrance has been a long time coming. “When I was little, my sister Kourtney and I tried to make our own perfume by picking flowers and putting them in the blender, because that’s how we thought fragrances were made,” Kardashian said during a phone interview. “Our parents thought we were crazy — and it smelled totally gross!”

Upbeat Mood Permeates Trade Shows

Retailer attendance at the Moda Manhattan show was up 20 percent from September 2008. Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which organizes Moda and AccessoriesTheShow, credited the increase to an aggressive marketing campaign, as well as a renewed retail attitude. “It’s not because Ben Bernanke says that the recession is likely over and everybody’s going to run out and spend,” said Jones. “But from the experience on the floor, retailers feel optimistic about the upcoming season.”

Obituary: Don Fisher, Gap Co-founder, 81

Donald G. Fisher, who with his wife Doris founded Gap Inc. and revolutionized global specialty store retailing, died at his home in San Francisco after a long battle with cancer. He was 81. Fisher’s demise comes just more than a month after the 40th anniversary of when he and his wife founded the company, named for the “generation gap” between Baby Boomers and their parents. Then 41 — and with no retailing experience — he abandoned a well-established career in real estate development to become the clothier to his sons’ generation just weeks after Woodstock and a month after man landed on the moon. (Click to see milestones in Gap history.)

WWD Back in Time: The New Look Debuts

In February 1947, Paris’ chic Avenue Montaigne played host to a seminal moment in fashion history — Christian Dior’s first show. And WWD was there. “A bright new star flashed into the couture firmament today when Christian Dior presented the first collection of his house,” read the opening to the review in the following day’s paper. Though WWD didn’t coin the phrase, “The New Look” — it’s credited to Carmel Snow, then editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar — it did wire back enough information on the event to make readers feel like they were front-row guests. (Click to see all the images.)

Click to read the previous WWD Week in Review (9/25/09).