Buyers Divide on Paris: Some Praise Season, Others Call It Lackluster

In one of the most divisive seasons in memory, retailers took distinctly opposing views of Paris Fashion Week: Some said sizzle, some said fizzle.

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Linda Dresner, who operates boutiques in New York and Birmingham, Mich., said she would narrow her focus.

“We’ve been very concentrated on our choices because of the dollar and difficult business. There was sometimes too much of a commercial approach. If it’s too sleepy, it’s not that interesting,” she said. “We’re focusing on looks that are strong and beautiful and have a real signature.”

Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Martin Margiela, Rochas, Balenciaga and Dries Van Noten were among collections offering such qualities. “We’re definitely interested in the larger, looser pants,” she said. “I think it looks good with a small, feminine, curved jackets.”

Dresner also cited a trend toward evening fabrics for day, such as hammered satin, coats with “swagger,” especially military styles with raised waists, and variations on cowboy boots.

“The idea of really decorated clothes doesn’t appeal to us right now,” she noted.

Printemps’ Charbit said the “surprise” of Paris was that “some of the more marginal designers, such as Hussein Chalayan, were less intellectual and more commercial. There were superb collections: Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, which was exceptional. Helmut Lang was also good,” she said.

Joan Burstein, owner of Browns in London, said she found the knitwear strong in Paris, as well as accessories such as brooches and narrow belts with adornment. Her top picks were Lanvin, which she described as “young and elegant,” along with Dries Van Noten, Junya Watanabe and Sonia Rykiel. “All of these collections were completely different, which is rather nice to have in Paris,” she said.

— With contributions from Emilie Marsh and Jennifer Weil
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