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The season, which was once limited to basics and clichés of the blue-and-white striped variety, is now a legitimate bellwether when designers break new ground.
"There's such a great emphasis on resort that [the season] seems longer and even more important than it already was," said Michael Fink, vice president, women's fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. "It's always been a very important season. Now it has high glamour attached to it. Resort used to be an easy, quick, throw-in-a-suitcase kind of collection and basics. Now it's all of that, plus resort is introducing fashion and introducing new ideas. Resort collections are becoming fully rounded. There's more offerings across the board."
Fink saw plenty of ideas, from wide, high-waisted pants to body-conscious suits and clingy dresses.
"The use of color is just outstanding," he said. "We're not seeing the classic navy and white, we're seeing tropical fruit colors for resort. We're seeing the fascination with fabric technology, with coated fabric and painted fabrics. In accessories, there's a wonderful evolution from high-heeled pumps for fall into sexy high-heeled slides for resort."
Linda Fargo, senior vice president and fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, said: "This is a good time for designers to experiment with introducing new capsule collections. Lanvin has a bridal group geared for flying in and traveling in. It was sparked conceptually by the idea of resort."
If there was any doubt that resort's status and stature is inching closer to that of spring and fall ready-to-wear, look no further than Milly, which recently flew about 75 fashion editors to a resort in Punta Mita, Mexico, to experience the collection.
"Talk about elaborate presentations," said Ann Watson, fashion director at Henri Bendel. "They wined and dined 75 people, some of whom brought their friends and families. [Milly] is more of a contemporary resource compared to a luxury brand whose stagings were equally elaborate, particularly in the case of Chanel."
Fargo said elaborate resort presentations were the news last year when "Dior and Chanel did really full-out shows." This year, young firms, such as Proenza Schouler and Thakoon, are getting their toes wet with first-time resort collections. "Fantastic," Fargo said of the collections. "We're thrilled."