Retail Heaven: Buyers Laud Paris for Commercial Creativity

Retailers love Paris when it sizzles, as it did for spring 2004. The season rollicked with femininity and creativity, and best of all, they say, it will sell.

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Jennifer Woo, president, Lane Crawford: “It was quite an exciting season. The femininity in Paris is perfect for Hong Kong. For me, the season was all about liquid jersey dresses like the ones at Chloé, Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent and the glamour and red-carpet rhinestones at Alexander McQueen.”

Cedric Charbit, women’s buyer, Printemps, Paris: “The message was diversity. There was eveningwear, nonchalant jersey pieces, rigorous suits and high-waist skirts. Designers moved toward such colors as green, yellow, pink and orange, and the looks mixed a casual late Seventies mood with eveningwear from the same period. A woman must have a provocative dress in a flamboyant color, such as the long orange dress at YSL, or the short and puffy black-and-pink fluorescent print dress at Balenciaga. Besides the ultra-feminine, there was pure elegance and rigor, such as Stella’s [McCartney] short jackets, YSL’s strong-shoulder short jacket and the short and structured jackets at Balenciaga.”

Judy Collinson, executive vice president, Barneys New York: “This is a season about the business of making beautiful clothes. Maybe because they are clothes made so obviously for the lifestyle of the women who will wear them. The season is incredibly feminine. There are Chanel influences, Thirties references. There are pleats, chiffon, ruffles and lingerie elements. So much is backless, cut out, draped, off-the-shoulder, lace, light colors, pinks, yellows, pale greens, gold and silver. Classic elements like trenches, shirts, shirtdresses and pleated skirts are interspersed.

“Lanvin was movingly beautiful. [Olivier] Theysken’s over-embroidered lace hourglass dress at Rochas is young and feminine with a strong delicate humor. Hussein Chalayan sent out a collection of wearable, well-shaped print vacation dresses. Martin Grant’s gold trench came out amidst a collection of clothes that had chic confidence. Balenciaga’s Thirties-inspired floral print dresses were vibrant, young and creative. And Viktor & Rolf’s evening gowns over one pants leg were great — the perfect comment to make amidst such a feminine season.”

Barbara Atkin, fashion director, Holt Renfrew: “It was all about seasonless, lightweight fabrics and new silhouettes, less about color and pattern. There’s a return to interesting jackets, layering, two-piece dressing and a new coordinated look. Highlights included Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Rochas, Balenciaga, Jean Paul Gaultier and YSL. I think Tom Ford did a terrific job. Also, Stella McCartney had a beautiful collection. Her dresses were magnificent.”
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