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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  • Scott Tepper, fashion director and divisional merchandise manager of apparel, accessories and lingerie at Henri Bendel: "We found the Milan season to be a bit quixotic towards the beginning; however, when we left the showrooms, we were very pleased with how the buys came together. The main trends, such as white eyelet, creamy linens, short jackets with portrait collars, chiffon ruffles, embroideries and the omnipresent dresses, are all charming and valid for our customer, however with the overall feeling of the season so incredibly soft, we needed to mix in some of the more substantial pieces to create a compelling story on the floor.

    "We loved the new extra-wide zigzag coat at Missoni for this reason, as well as their yellow chiffon printed evening dress. Versace was a collection we thought was outstanding — Daniela's breakthrough moment, with her fluid jerseys and ombré chiffons that combined clean strength with the softness of the season. Francisco Rosas has a clear and modern point of view that combines the luxury of couture details with wearablity. We think he has a very bright future. Antonio Marras was also quite beautiful in a unique way; we loved his soft, short kimono jackets as well as his black and white evening dresses. Marni and Dolce and Gabbana delivered smashing and commercial collections that will more than satisfy their legions of followers. The dazzling and exuberant array of Miu Miu platform shoes made us end the week with a smile.

  • Janet Brown, who owns a namesake store: "The calendar is grueling. It's easy to be negative, but the graciousness of Milan for me is always strong. Not only did it have great collections such as Marni, Jil Sander, Missoni and Bottega Veneta, but there are brilliant young people working so hard." These included Ezicho, "a Japanese boy that does wonderful jackets," Cor De Adamich and Francisco Rosas "with wonderful evening dresses, feminine and beautiful, such great taste."

  • Julie Gilhart, vice president and fashion director at Barneys New York: "I really thought once again that Prada was uber-directional. At Marni the bags, shoes and ready-to-wear were strong. The Fendi bags were incredible and the show had a lot of energy. The B-bag has so many incantations. It's just cute in every single way. Dolce & Gabbana lived up to 20 years of fashion. It was one of their best collections. They took the trend of lace and eyelet and they DJ'd it really nicely. I think the direction of Milan was deceivingly powerful. It doesn't hit you on the head. It fits the mood of what women want. They want to wear the clothes rather than have the clothes wear them. Last season all you wanted to wear was a skirt and this season all you want to wear is the dress. There is a lot of white, tan and beige and makeup colors. Accessories like a bigger handbag or a crystal or fuchsia shoe like we saw at Prada. That becomes very important."
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