Buyers Laud Ingenuity on Display During Paris Fashion Week

PARIS  — The fashion crowd knew it would be an unusual Paris Fashion Week, with much of the audience following presentations from screens at home — often from different time zones — and a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the small number of physical shows. With each day, tensions rose as coronavirus cases mounted in France, prompting stiffer travel rules and tightened security measures from local authorities. 

In this environment, what emerged came as a display of resilience. Despite ongoing rumblings of frustration with being anchored at home, buyers expressed extra appreciation for efforts to get the show on the road — with more successful endeavors carrying extra resonance.

“Thanks Chanel for going big — your continuity is reassuring!” enthused Linda Fargo of Bergdorf Goodman, who appreciated the luxury label’s towering Hollywood-style cinema set in the Grand Palais. She noted smaller labels would likely suffer most from the lack of in-person meetings.

“Our buys necessarily will have to be highly edited and thoughtful and every purchase scrutinized and has to count,” she said. 

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With everyone out for a pick-me-up, bold expressions of optimism were appreciated. The Isabel Marant catwalk show shot past all others, in buyers’ minds, singled out for the vibrant and shimmery clothing as well as the dance performance from (LA)Horde.

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Chanel RTW Spring 2021

“The energy was so fun and vibrant, in contrast to reality. The show was driven by a burning desire to go out and escape, which made you want to invest in every style that walked down the runway,” remarked Nahid Kermali, of Al Tayer Group’s Ounass.com.

For Beth Buccini, founder and owner of Kirna Zabête, who is working on easing customers back into luxury dressing, Paris is the place to go.

“It is time to dress up again and invest in joyful, unique pieces,” she said.

For digital presentation, Loewe built on its hit from last season, the show-in-a-box, this time offering even more — glue, scissors, and a tool bag to cover a room with posters of people wearing the collection, or surreal wallpaper. The box garnered even more attention than last time. Balenciaga stole the video show category with a nighttime stroll to BFRND’s remake of Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night,” that featured a range of characters in the label’s collection.

Responses from buyers to the collections contrasted considerably this season, and it was a newbie to the Paris scene, Gabriela Hearst, who emerged as the favorite. Closely behind were Loewe, Dior, Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Paco Rabanne and Acne Studios.

In terms of trends, buyers picked out a wide range of new — and often contrasting — styles. A sensual wave rolled in, with ample options in leather, layers of sheer transparency, knit and crocheted dresses and a slew of midriff-baring options, from halter tops to braletttes. In the color department, there was a rush of gold, a number of black-and-white options and various pastels. There was a fresh infusion of denim, and tailoring and shorts continue to be a focus, and one buyer noted a continuation from previous seasons. Reflecting a growing ecological bent, raw and natural materials, as well as upcycling, figured prominently across labels.

Here, buyers’ reactions to Paris Fashion Week: 

Balenciaga, spring 2021 Courtesy of Balenciaga

Alix Morabito, fashion director, Galeries Lafayette:

Best live show: The Kenzo show was a poetic moment that paid homage to the universe of Kenzo Takada with a very contemporary collection.

Best video format: Balenciaga’s video clip, launching “Sunglasses at Night” by BFRND, continued to top views even after several days and served as the perfect setting for the iconic collection.

Maud Pupato, divisional merchandise manager for womenswear, luxe & designers, Printemps:

Favorite collections: Coperni innovated with new materials and modern shapes. Paco Rabanne, with a “street” feeling, introduced a glamorous, yet very daywear collection, smartly mixing evening pieces with tailoring and denim. Loewe showed a positive collection that introduced an inclusive approach through voluminous shapes. Hermès was the minimalist clean “skin feeling” we needed to feel closer again while distancing.

Top trends:  Black and white is definitely a major trend; sheer and transparency bring a very soft and natural feeling (Acne, Cecile Banhsen); tailoring is still very present (Givenchy, Balenciaga); dresses are very couture and for every day (Coperni, Loewe).

Best live show: Isabel Marant was a blast of colors, dynamism and happiness!

Best presentation concept: Jonathan Anderson for Loewe, explaining how he rethought fashion, codes and aesthetic during the lockdown and how he came up with the collection, with an intimate, documentary feel.

Best video format: Cecilie Bahnsen made a beautiful video that plunged us into her imagination.

Talent scouting: Ioannes, Coperni, Thebe Magugu, Mossi. There were many creative designers with a beautiful aesthetic and strong message. We also are considering the vision behind the brands.

Buying process: Maintaining and supporting our partnerships, while opening new brands; exclusive products for a unique selection.

General comments on the season: The general feeling is positive, even through very black and white collections, thanks to a very precise addition of colors. Styling is very important, clothes are versatile and have many functions, at home or outside. Escaping reality through concepts, stories, art and silhouettes is not just a feeling but real inspiration.

 

Elizabeth and Dominick Lepore, owners and buyers, Jimmy’s Brooklyn and the Hamptons:

Favorite collections: Balmain, Elie Saab, Azzi & Osta, RaisaVanessa.

Top trends: Leather in all colors from one statement trench to a full leather look; casual yet feminine with above-hemline skirts; statement pieces and novelty items evoking joy; the bra has been replaced and is now a bandeau.

Best live shows: Balmain and Chanel.

Best presentation concept: Balmain and Elie Saab.

Buying process: This year’s buying process was unlike any in our over 75-year history. We viewed the collections as a family in the Hamptons in our dining room. We took the majority of our Zoom appointments when the fourth-generation “baby Jimmy” was napping; but he did meet a few designers! 

General comments on the season: The DNA of the established houses was at the core of their collections, which is what we’ve seen customers flock to in recent months. Designers offered their take on toned-down items for uncertain times with hints of black prevailing. But we still made sure to find the right combination of runway and editorial glam with monochromatic, long and lean silhouettes.

Backstage at Rick Owens’ spring 2021 show. Adam Katz Sinding

Tyler Franch, vice president, fashion director, Hudson’s Bay and The Room:

Favorite collections: Thom Browne, Gabriela Hearst, Rick Owens, Y/Project, Acne Studios and Balmain.

Top trends: This season revolves around comfort and clothing with a purpose — sustainability or functionality. The season’s must-haves: the knit dress and the lounge set. Utility and protective outerwear in tech fabrics look fresh while crisp poplins were used in everything from oversize dresses and tops to tailored layering items. Unbleached and unwashed linens and denim were served up with monochromatic styling.

Best live show: Balmain brought the virtual world to the runway with a cheeky display of the usual front-row goers and top editors displayed on large screens that filled the seats.

Best presentation concept: A handwritten note and Frank Herbert’s book “Dune” inspired Joseph Altuzarra’s collection. His novel-turned-art, delivered to us ahead of his show, offered an intimate peek inside his design process including pages filled with fabric swatches, fitting Polaroids and look book tears.

Best video format: Designers either opted for a lens of a dystopian future or a return to craftsmanship and raw talent. Thom Browne has always shared his fantasy worlds with us through the runway presentations and married both these ideas perfectly with a video presentation worth rewatching.

General comments on the season: Designers showed the very best of what they do, with more thoughtfulness, letting us into their most personal moments and ideas that are bringing a thread of

Gabriela Hearst, spring 2021 Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

optimism and joy to their collections — which is exactly what we and our customers need. 

 

Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director, Matchesfashion:

Favorite collections: Marine Serre, Balenciaga and Gabriela Hearst.

Top trends: The zeitgeist of this season is the ease and effortlessness of clothes.

Best live show: Chloé was natural, carefree and optimistic.

Best presentation concept: Balenciaga felt uplifting, giving a sense of hope and joy.

Best video format: Marine Serre’s “Amor Fati” allowed for a moment of reflection on the multiple crises facing our world.

General comments on the season: It has been incredible to see creativity and innovative ideas shine through these very difficult times.

 

Nahid Kermali, senior buyer, women’s ready-to-wear, Ounass, Al Tayer:

Favorite collections: Isabel Marant, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten.

Top trends: Bold, vibrant prints and pop colors like pink, red, and lime green, sending a message of light at the end of the tunnel. Metallic and shiny styles added glamour. Almost every collection featured a crop top or staple bralette styled under a sheer or open top or with a high-waisted skirt. Shorts became the must-have item of the season, from sweat shorts, Bermuda shorts, metallic shorts, shorts in various pop colors, and even fancy shorts.

Best live show: Isabel Marant — the energy was so fun and vibrant, in contrast to reality. The show was driven by a burning desire to go out and escape, which made you want to invest in every style that walked down the runway.

Best presentation concept: Some top French fashion houses like Chloé and Balenciaga focused on their Parisian roots and real-life, everyday encounters, with presentations filmed on the streets of Paris and models in a more carefree atmosphere. Designers are adapting to this moment and designing wardrobes for the everyday woman, rather than just occasions.

Talent scouting: Not able to see the collections firsthand, we are focusing on investing in existing brands, but we are excited to add New Zealand-based Paris Georgia to our portfolio.

Buying process: We conducted all of our buys virtually, reviewing look books and line sheets to make a tentative selection prior to the appointment. Brands have made the process as smooth and seamless as possible.

General comments on the season: We were excited to see strong, fresh, fun, and joyful collections. Designers did a spectacular job adapting, with more casual dressing, and elegance and glamour. Bold colors and prints brought about the joy of dressing up again. Average purchasing power is down and designers did a great job offering more entry price points.

Isabel Marant, spring 2021 Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Jennifer Cuvillier, style director, Le Bon Marché:

Favorite collections: Dior, Loewe, Patou.

Top trends: Craftsmanship highlighted by clean silhouettes, emphasis on beautiful fabrics, craft detailing, neutral fresh colors and whites mixed with art-inspired prints or seaside summer vibes. Well-being silhouettes with a comfort attitude from accessories to ready-to-wear and a focus on comfortable shoes.

Best live show: The immersive shows of Dior, Isabel Marant and Ami.

Best presentation concept: Loewe with its digital and live-art immersive concept, Vanessa Bruno with her fresh summer installation.

Best video format: Thom Browne’s futuristic world with its theater experience transposed into digital: we were there.

Talent scouting: Thebe Magugu: great talent and great digital presentation with a strong point of view.

Buying process: Mainly digital.

Backstage at Dior, spring 2021 Delphine Achard/WWD

Joseph Tang, fashion director, Holt Renfrew:

Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten’s bright and bold collection in sunset hues and sheer fabrications; Dior’s new idea of “less-strict” dressing; Miu Miu’s Sixties-inspired, candy-colored sport collection.

Top trends: Standout prints and color from Chloé, Louis Vuitton, and Dries Van Noten; the “new uniform” with designers reimagining traditional codes. The emphasis on the unstructured jacket, wide-leg trousers, and precision tailoring — Givenchy exemplified this.

Best live show: Chanel’s cinematic collection of the house’s iconic muses was paired with a short film prior to the live show. Set in front of Chanel’s own Hollywood sign, the collection consisted of chic short suits, oversize knits, and pops of graphic logos — quintessential pieces for the classic Parisian wardrobe.

Best presentation concept: Loewe’s show-in-a-box which showcased the collection through a wallpaper installation. By watching Loewe’s set of influencers install the collection from their own workspaces you were able to view the collection from multiple perspectives. A brilliant idea!

Best video format: Roger Vivier’s reimagined Hotel Vivier as a film concept, which offered the immersive experience.

Buying process: We continue to navigate the virtual market and find new and better ways to see the product. Designers have been providing more materials for us to review to best understand the collections this season. While we miss being in the showrooms, we have adapted well along the way.

General comments on the season: Designers quickly adapted to create an atmosphere of their collections that allowed us to step into their creative visions. We continue to be excited by the newness the season has to offer — most specifically the new direction at Givenchy — and look forward to how the virtual market will evolve for future seasons.

Sam Lobban, senior vice president, designer and new concepts, Nordstrom:

Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Gabriela Hearst, Christian Dior, Chanel, Altuzarra, Rick Owens, Matthew Williams’ new Givenchy.

Top trends: There was a feeling of escapism, like a luxurious nomadic traveler, with an uplifting optimism. Dries Van Noten felt young and inclusive but elevated. Dior, Gabriela Hearst and Altuzarra had very strong collections in this same vein, with neutrals brought to life through intricate fabrications and texture, as well as strong color used in interesting stripes and tie-dyes, and great accessories. Designers took a nostalgic route with a strong Eighties theme in places — be it in candy pinks, the prints or suits at Chanel, the straight pop of Isabel Marant, or the darker TV horror slash sci-fi mood of Balenciaga.

Best video format: Thom Browne’s video was really fun. I also thought Balenciaga’s video to accompany the collection was strong as the format worked brilliantly to bring the collection to life. I loved its soundtrack — it definitely made me want to be back in Paris!

General comments on the season: We’ve seen a lot of products that can fit into our collective new normal, but also offer some sense of escape, inspiration and optimism, which is in large part why we all love clothes and fashion in the first place.

 

Loewe, spring 2021 Courtesy of Loewe

Maria Milano, head of womenswear and childrenswear, Harrods:

Favorite collections: Hermès for the immaculate separates and the divine clogs (we predict a sell-out), and Gabriela Hearst’s monochrome leather, cut-away dresses and multicolored knitwear, much of which was used from upcycled fabrics and deadstock.

Top trends: Black and white ruled the runways, from classicists like Hermès and Alaïa to Loewe, Issey Miyake, Thom Browne and Yohji Yamamoto. Denim, seen everywhere from Dior to Balmain. Relaxed silhouettes, carrying on from the pre-collections and certainly reflecting the desire for comfort and ease, at Balenciaga, Acne, Kenzo and Dior. Pastels and florals but executed in a nongirly way as seen at Chloé, Isabel Marant and Paco Rabanne.

Best live show: The Gabriela Hearst show, with vocals from Spanish singer Leiva, certainly gave me FOMO.

Best presentation concept: Loewe’s show-on-a-wall was the most impressive concept.

Best video format: Loewe again, streaming a series of art films as well as a presentation of the collection by Jonathan Anderson.

Talent scouting: Not new by any stretch but we are thrilled to be opening an Hermès ready-to-wear boutique as a global department store exclusive early next year. On a smaller scale, we have picked up Rokh and Lemaire for spring.

Buying process: Digital showrooms are increasingly becoming more sophisticated, with pre-material sent to us to allow us to prepare more efficiently. Nothing beats the real thing and we miss showrooms, touching fabrics, seeing the drape and cut of product in the flesh and the thrill of a live show.

General comments on the season: Creative directors have whittled down their collections to the key looks they feel best express their vision for the season, which has made the buying process more streamlined and speaks to a collective desire to become more sustainable.

Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion and store presentation director, Bergdorf Goodman:

Favorite collections: Loewe’s box of almost life-size “wallpaper” of the models was a presentation highlight of the week, and the collectible image-as-artifacts aren’t coming down anytime soon — talk about new ideas!

Best video format: We loved Cecilie Bahnsen’s romantic film on the misty moors, Thom Browne’s ultra-stylized film/presentation; Dior’s “Live” format; the streets of Paris at Chloé, and Chanel against an epic backdrop of Hollywoodland scale. Other standout collections were Dries Van Noten, Alaïa, Gabriela Hearst, Rick Owens, Akris, Givenchy, Schiaparelli and Altuzarra.

Talent scouting: We’re quite excited about a short list of newcomers as well, though emerging brands are probably most hurt by our not being there in person this season.

General comments on the season: Houses and designers get high marks for adapting with an arsenal of digital tools and artistic expression to bring their collections and markets to us. The crisis pushed the designers to fight it with resilience, and remarkable experimentation and creativity.

Chloé, spring 2021 Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Riccardo Tortato, head of the buying departments, Tsum Moscow and DLT St Petersburg, fashion director e-commerce, Tsum.ru:

Favorite collections: Chloé, Isabelle Marant, Gabriella Hurst.

Top trends: It’s a transitional season where most trends are reconfirmation of the previous year.

Best live show: Isabel Marant.

Best presentation concept: Loewe.

Best video format: Balenciaga.

Talent scouting: No one new caught our eye this season.

Buying process: We try to buy as much as possible in person in showrooms, so where possible, we did walk-throughs before finalizing digitally. Some brands we bought only [through] digital.

General comments on the season: We are growing so it would have been better to have a physical experience of shows and showrooms. It is really difficult to buy luxury brands on digital platforms. The biggest brands supported our buying team, giving us the vision of the collection in person. More foreigner buyers should have come to Paris and Milan to support brands and the business in general. I would like to thank every single brand that did their best this season to create amazing collections and live presentations.

 

Mia Young, chief merchant, Lane Crawford:

Favorite collections: Loewe: Jonathan Anderson created a very thoughtful and beautiful collection and explored the relationship between art and fashion. In a time where everyone was working remotely, and repeating past best-sellers, he incorporated artisanal handmade elements to bring together fantasies and reality through the thoughtful use of materials.

Top trends: All-around volume: Shoulder, sleeves, corset/bustier details, square necklines, yellow hues, pink hues.

Best presentation concept: J.W. Anderson was definitely more on the creative side. Buyers received a fun interactive show-in-a-box from the brand that required the audience to construct and piece together elements from the show.

Talent scouting: In a season of transition, it’s hard to say, but we are constantly on the look-out, and hopeful to find something in future seasons.

Buying process: Akris had one of the more comprehensive buy setups — with a runway video, multiple camera/showroom views, live model, and easy access to line sheets. J.W. Anderson was one of the most creative appointments, with a HoloMe app — buyers were able to see the clothing on a model virtually transposed in their natural surroundings using the app.

General comments on the season: Pre-spring market was a little more quiet. This main market, it seems like designers are starting to get used to the virtual market and thinking more about the product and incorporating more elements of fun and whimsy. We are seeing a more positive outlook from brands.

Paco Rabanne, spring 2021 Courtesy of Paco Rabanne

Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-porter:

Favorite collections: Loved seeing Gabriela Hearst in Paris for the first time; also loved the Balenciaga collection, and Loewe’s couture-like shapes.

Top trends: Joyful dressing, summer escapism and modern couture (as seen at Loewe). For accessories we loved the Rattan and new Shell Tote bag at Loewe, also the continuation of this idea of “House Slippers and Slides” with Loewe doing their own monogrammed version. There was also a lot of monochrome this season in Paris.

Best live show: We loved virtually watching Chloé — it was great to see the way they brought street style to real life.

Best presentation concept: Loewe’s “presentation in a box” was amazing yet again, we loved the “Show on the Wall” concept, and hearing Jonathan talking through the collection.

 Best video format: Balenciaga’s “Sunglasses at night” film was super cool – and I loved the soundtrack, too. Such a great way to be able to see the pieces and the looks in motion.

I also loved the Dries van Noten film by Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen, with the models dancing in front of a psychedelic projection/light show!

General comments on the season: We felt that sense of optimism, but also the idea of dressing the real woman, not only through the diverse casting but also through the clothes. The designers are really addressing the needs of the everyday woman, from denim at Paco Rabanne and Balenciaga to fashion-forward, everyday essentials like the traditional shirt, trackpants and lastly knitwear.

J.W. Anderson, spring 2021 Courtesy of J.W. Anderson

Federica Montelli, head of fashion, La Rinascente, in Milan: 

Favorite collections: Loewe and J.W. Anderson, with their show-in-a-box sequels. Matthew Williams’ Givenchy debut, for its tough image and interesting reinterpretation of archive pieces. Miu Miu was fresh, young, colorful and very Miuccia. I loved Acne Studios for its natural colors and layering of interesting materials. Paco Rabanne had some interesting development on daywear. Strong showing by Coperni, Cecilie Bahnsen, and Marine Serre.    

Top trends: Tailoring, both relaxed and modern for a genderless feel, as well as more fitted and feminine, now the most modern proposal. Bright colors (purple, pink and orange as newness) juxtaposed to natural shades (undyed, optic white and blackout); skirts go from extreme minis to an abundance of split skirts; crop tops, bralettes, stretchy tops off-the-shoulder and “monosleeve” with a modern edge, and mesh and crochet among the most interesting materials. Upcycling, recycling, inclusivity and diversity continue to be the most widespread narratives, together with dystopian and futuristic representations.

Best presentation concept: Balenciaga’s runway in Paris streets at night felt intimate, something new to the brand.  Y/Project for its interesting display of modularity and adaptability, one of the strongest conceptual trends of the season, and Marine Serre for its “Amor Fati” short movie, with a dystopian representation of this pandemic reality.

Best video format: Videos that convey an innovative message and display the product, with close-ups and dynamic movement, are the most effective. Maison Margiela, for its inspirational movie followed by the behind-the-scenes into the creative process featuring John Galliano himself and a focus on craftsmanship.

Talent scouting: Not a proper discovery, but among the new brands I would like to mention is Gauchère, which we have been closely observing for its creative tailoring. Thebe Magugu is another name to follow.

Buying process: We’ve planned digital walk-throughs in order to view the collections and are sometimes missing the direct physical interaction with garments, but by now we have gotten used to this way of buying. We appreciated seeing the collections live in the showrooms where we are based, that is in Milan.

General comments on the season: Paris still offers a brand lineup with luxury players and young discoveries, thus we can’t wait to be back in Paris ­– having also missed last fashion week in March — and experience not only the designers but also the grandeur of the city.

Acne Studios, spring 2021 Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Bosse Myhr, director of women’s wear and men’s wear, Selfridges, in London: 

Favorite collections: Ami Alexandre Mattiussi, Acne Studios and Rick Owens.  

Top trends: Corsets, lace, cropped tops and a really strong emphasis on separates.     

Best live show: Ami was simply brilliant.   

Best presentation concept: Without question Loewe, a fun and creative idea that could only have come from Jonathan Anderson. The entire team was talking about it.

 

Heather Gramston, head of women’s wear, Browns Fashion, London: 

Favorite collections: Balenciaga, Loewe, Rick Owens, Y/Project and Acne Studios.

Top trends: Denim on denim, neutrals, tone-on-tone pastels, voluminous skirts and sheer layering.

Best live show: Acne Studios.  

Best video format: I loved Balenciaga — the models who were all wearing sunglasses were walking through the deserted streets of Paris with a Corey Hart “Sunglasses at Night” soundtrack sung by Demna [Gvasalia’s] boyfriend.

Buying process: We have adapted to the virtual buying process, which has improved since pre-collections, as brands have had some additional time to work on the best format.

General comments on the season: There were a few key players absent from the schedule, so it will be interesting to see how they next showcase their collection.

 

Beth Buccini, founder and owner, Kirna Zabête, in New York: 

Favorite collections:  Dior, Chloé, Paco Rabanne and Rokh.  

Top trends: Leathers, gold, bra dressing, knit dresses in sets, bright pops of color in orange and green, and crochet.    

Best live show: Dior was as magical as it always is with the modern opera singers in a church. We were transported to a different era but could still feel the emotion in the clothes without being present.

Best presentation concept: The Cecilie Bahnsen video was a beautiful short and suspenseful film with gorgeous cinematography.

Best video format: The best video format was Loewe. I loved hearing Jonathan give insight as to why he designed the collection and then witness the fantasy of the photography and video that went along with his presentation.

Talent scouting: We love Rokh. It is the right mix of romantic and conceptual at a fair price.

Buying process: I think we’ve all become experts pretty quickly at remote buying, but none of us will really know how well it works until we see the sales results next spring. Having a mix of a look book/video, and appointment with the team in person in front of the clothes with a model, and actual fabric swatches sent to us in advance usually works best.  

General comments on the season: This was the first October in 25 years that I have not attended the collections in Paris. I definitely missed the creativity and inspiration of being there and seeing the clothes in person. I also feel terribly for the new designers who don’t have the big budgets to pull off these highly produced videos.  

Giambattista Valli, spring 2021 Courtesy of Giambattista Valli

Arielle Siboni, women’s ready-to-wear fashion director, Bloomingdale’s:

Favorite collections: Dior’s bohemian casual aesthetic with escapist-inspired dresses and prints. Bloomingdale’s customers will be pleased to see the accessories. Giambattista Valli’s designs fully embraced femininity with soft pastels, poplin dresses with lace, and garden party florals. Tailoring and gorgeous knit pieces at Altuzarra, along with the refined simplicity behind Gabriela Hearst’s collection, demonstrated how garments can exude strength and confidence.

Top trends: Halters, shirting and shirt dresses, knitwear and crochet, sheer dresses and relaxed tailoring. We saw strategically placed cutouts and strong shoulders, in addition to leather sportswear as a continuing trend.

Best live show: Isabel Marant always keeps it fun and this season was no different. The live dancers brought so much energy to the show and showcased first-hand how the garments effortlessly move on the body.

Best presentation concept: The life-size posters and model poses at Loewe were just as dynamic as the clothing itself. The garments commanded your attention in a charming and playful way, and the presentation’s overall concept enhanced this feeling even further.

Best video format: I love when designers give us a glimpse into their creative process and inspiration, similar to what Altuzarra did. Balenciaga’s and Acne’s videos were inventive and transported the viewers into each designer’s vision for the season. The music, set design, location and how the videos were filmed brought the collections to life in a creative way.

General comments on the season: The most successful balanced desirable and emotional with wearable. There was a sense of optimism, but also a pragmatic understanding that the world we live in has forever changed. Collections were about looking inward and posed the question of fashion’s role and impact in this new world, with a focus on sustainability.

 

Roopal Patel, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:

Favorite collections: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s collection for Dior was exceptional and such a beautiful start to Paris Fashion Week. Her take on “the new uniform” of tailoring with a softer hand feels right for these times. It’s an elevated approach to how fashion, design and comfort come together for the Dior lady. Other top shows: Loewe, Chanel, Dries Van Noten, Alaïa, Gabriela Hearst, Altuzarra, Chloé and Rick Owens.

Top trends: Flowy dresses, relaxed tailoring, oversize blazers, knit dressing, denim, crochet, lace, “ladies who lounge,” chunky platforms and oversize straw totes.

Best presentation concept: Jonathan Anderson’s “show on the wall” concept for Loewe was genius. It made us feel connected as a community.

Best video format: Balenciaga’s video presentation with multiple looks walking through Paris was engaging and tapped into how technology is allowing us to see the shows. It felt like one big fashion story on Instagram that we could have kept watching for hours.

General comments on the season: Paris helped bring some much needed joy, optimism and beauty to our world. It is positive and uplifting to see all of the designers looking ahead with their creativity and design magic. It was a strong week of shows, fashion and trends to move us forward.

Altuzarra, spring 2021 Courtesy of Altuzarra

Lisa Aiken, buying and fashion director, Moda Operandi:

Favorite collections: Highlights were far from cohesive, ranging from the grown-up and assured collections of Altuzarra and Gabriela Hearst, to the playful escapism of Isabel Marant, bold spirit at Paco Rabanne, Alessandra Rich’s ultimate femme and finally Demna’s powerful vision at Balenciaga.

Top trends: Ultra-feminine silhouettes and an overriding sense of modern sensuality, with cut-outs, draping, puff sleeves and exposed necklines. Washes of color, particularly unexpected shades of yellow and pale pink. The idea of modern craft, from patchworking to crochet. And a little bit of glamour, we love!  Next summer will bring outdoor social events, and with that, a reason to get dressed up again (no matter the scale) — a big opportunity.

Best live show: The energy of Isabel Marant was infectious from afar.

Best video format: Undoubtedly Balenciaga has the best video of the season, it evoked a mood and was very original.

Buying process: Brands have done an exceptional job of providing as much content, insight and information as possible, but ultimately the buying process has remained challenging. But making a decision the same way the e-commerce client shops, does provide a good lens.

General comments on the season: It has been impressive to watch how the industry has handled everything, adapted to the challenges, and collaborated. Every single person: designer, buyer, editor, customer has been living through a huge shared experience. The season opened up a lot of questions on what we can do better, what responsible retail and production looks like, what is necessary for a brand to invest in. This is only the start of the conversation.

 

Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, Mytheresa:

Favorite collections: Loewe was amazing — I love how the whole collection was presented, the “show on the wall” concept gets you involved and all the looks were beautiful and so dramatic when displayed on a life-sized poster. Rick Owens perfectly reflected the times we live in in his collection and it was presented in such an elegant way.

Top trends: We saw a lot of bold and bright colors. Overall there was a very positive vibe in Paris. Capes and shoulder details also stood out, as well as flat shoes.

Must-have item: I am loving the oversize bags from Acne Studios.

Best video format: Marine Serre’s digital movie was fantastically well made and really set the bar high for any digital show movies.

General comments on the season: Sadly, I was not in Paris but digital shows were executed very well. Timings were on point and brands produced really great digital assets.

Charlotte Knowles, spring 2021 Courtesy of Charlotte Knowles

Brigitte Chartrand, vice president of women’s wear buying, SSENSE:

Favorite collections: The Row, Kwaidan Editions, Charlotte Knowles, Miu Miu, Wales Bonner, Collina Strada, Jil Sander.

Top trends: This season, checks, flower prints, and crochet were prominent across many collections, all heavily influenced by an overarching Seventies vibe. Spring/summer 2021 showcased a mix of vibrant colors and earthy neutrals as well as oversize, androgynous and effortless tailoring.

Best live show: Chloé.

Best presentation concept: Loewe.

Best video format: Balenciaga and Prada.

Talent scouting: Maximilian, Feben.

Buying process: Brands have been extremely helpful in sending strong content to help inform our buying decisions.

General comments on the season: This season, we’re providing support and guidance to rising talent like Nensi Dojaka, Charlotte Knowles, Kwaidan Editions and Louisa Ballou.

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