Dresses to the Rescue: Save Otherwise Safe, Chaotic Milan Season

After an underwhelming Milan season, the dress emerged as a savior and lifted retailers spirits about the feminine, if safe, direction for spring.

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  • Cedric Charbit, general merchandise manager for women's fashion at Printemps: "We're returning to eclecticism the more we go. People pick up items they like from different brands. A lot of brands are doing what they're known for: Armani is doing Armani, Dsquared is doing Dsquared, focusing on the core business. Overall, we were quite happy with what we saw, the Sixties Brigitte Bardot looks and the influence of Seventies-era Yves Saint Laurent."

    Charbit praised a range of collections, among them Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Marni and Burberry Prorsum.

  • Jeffrey Kalinsky, president and chief executive officer of Jeffrey New York, and director of merchandising at Nordstrom: "Marni is an eternal favorite, and we can never buy enough of it. It's just always wonderful — between the prints and great skirts, it's just a big, big business. I liked the new direction at Gucci. I think women are going to wear it. I think it is going to sell well. I loved Prada and Burberry Prorsum. I thought Fendi was a surprise. I can't wait to get to the showroom. Miuccia Prada is just a genius. She keeps it fresh season after season. She takes a beautiful, simple dress and she makes it magical somehow. I loved Versace. It thought it was powerful. Overall, I loved the neutral palette, but it's my job to infuse something interesting so that things aren't too restrained. Where I find color, I'm going to buy color."

  • Robert Burke of Bergdorf Goodman: Burke saw no shortage of standout collections, among them big names such as Prada and Dolce & Gabbana and smaller labels such as 6267 and Sinha-Stanic. "We thought Fendi was an outstanding collection both in ready-to-wear and accessories. We thought Gucci showed a lot of courage to show a new statement. Etro showed a huge evolution and wonderful sophistication. Also Giorgio Armani looked very couture and his experience with the Privé [couture collection] has carried over into the ready-to-wear line."

  • Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, owner of Villa Moda: "My favorites were Marni, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana. The accessories at Fendi, with the new B. Fendi bag, are amazing. The shoes in Miu Miu are the best in town. Trends were the summer coats — the attention to the waistline, with lots of Empire waists — and a lot of prints. Coats are the items of the season. The softer side of Prada is strong, the new Gucci girl is young and fresh. Dolce & Gabbana's red numbers are great and [I'm pleased] there's a return of red, which has been absent for a while. It was a strong season, and with our climate, the weight of the fabrics is excellent."
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