Milan Fashion Week Spring '08. The Retail Buyer's Verdict. Second City Style Fashion Blog

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Even though the strong euro made it ridiculously expensive, the pace was impossibly fast (shortened to 4 days)and the weather grim, retailers left Milan in high spirits thanks to a gust of fresh, colorful and feminine fashions, according to WWD.

Collectively, buyers said they welcomed a shift from overt hard-edged sexiness to something softer and more romantic, with lots of floral prints and artistic touches. Praised were collections by Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander, 6267, Marni, Fendi, Prada and Versace. Ethnic-themed prints, transparency and full skirts of all lengths were cited among key trends.


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"I’m very, very positive for the spring-summer season. It’s luxury, it’s feminine, it’s colorful — bravo!" enthused Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford.

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"I thought Milan reconfirmed fashion at its best. Usually when there are a lot of ruffles, chiffon and florals, it can end up being too saccharine, but it’s not like that this season," added Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director of Henri Bendel. "Many designers mastered restraint and in doing so showed how sexy the power of suggestion can be."

Here’s what other retailers had to say:

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus

"There’s a bold color statement coming out of Milan, with turquoise looking the newest, plus all the pretty pastels. At Versace, those draped Grecian dresses came out like a rainbow. We also liked this multicultural, global referencing, which keeps some embellishment on the clothes. Another strong message was the hand of the artist: prints that really looked touched by a brush or had an artisanal feel."

Downing also highlighted floaty dirndl skirts, multiple layers of sheer, lightweight fabrics and colorful patent leather accessories. Standout collections included 6267 for "redefined modern femininity"; a "bold and exhilarating Jil Sander"; Marni; Versace and Fendi, which was "intelligent, yet feminine and sophisticated."

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Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s

"Milan has just been bursting with color and bold dreamlike prints. It’s one of the best seasons I have seen in Milan. It’s full of optimism. I thought Giorgio Armani was a relaxing and calming show with its water-like prints. His evening gowns at the end were like diamonds in the sea. 6267 are big talents to watch. This was true craftsmanship with couture details and Japanese influences." Her favorites also included Marni, Prada, D&G, Blumarine and Versace. "I’d like to see a schedule that is a little bit more sensitive to the needs of retailers so that we have little pockets of time to visit the unknown people who could become something important."

Michael Fink, vice president and women’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue

"Sophisticated tailoring is alive and well at 6267. Our customer will love choosing between the new romantic mood with softer shapes, exploded florals, gossamer weight fabrics, in dusty colors or the energetic, bold and colorful global tribal ideas. Prints were outstanding this season, ranging from the mystical faeries at Prada to the florals at Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli. Jil Sander’s translucent layers move long and lean dressing light years ahead. The Versace collection was exceptional in its confident statement of chic day clothes and beautifully draped, unornamented eveningwear — no bling needed. The evolution of the shoe bootie at Gucci and Dolce looked just right and toughened up romantic dressing. Interesting heels were everywhere. Prada’s were so fun. I loved that mini and maxi lengths lived equally on the runway, and both look right."

Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director of Barneys New York

"Milan was great this season. What with all the newness in color, print, softer volumes and the new longer lengths, we have high expectations at retail. A more poetic, romantic approach based in the craftsmanship that Italy is known for makes more sense to us versus the hype and following of trends that has been more prevalent in season’s past. The best examples of this shift in consciousness were at Prada and Dolce & Gabbana." Her other favorites included Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta, Marni, Fendi and Versace. "Despite all the talk of the euro and how it will affect sales, Milan delivered special pieces that will attract customers because of the sheer artistic craftsmanship and strong femininity that they express."

Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director of Henri Bendel

"Our customer is going to love the new sense of romance and the softer shapes. The prints in particular were great: the small florals at Cavalli were fresh and the art-inspired prints took them to a new level. One couldn’t help getting excited about the modern art inspired prints at Dolce & Gabbana; they took my breath away. The art nouveau prints on easy tunics and dresses at Prada reflect the softening up of the silhouette and that was fresh to see. The fabrics, when compared to last season, lost their rigidity. I also loved the zigzag patterns and floral prints at Missoni, they had a Seventies feel. Our budgets are up for this season and we are continuing to see this trend going forward. The exchange rate is a concern but the luxury customer has not shown any resistance thus far."

Tiziana Cardini, fashion director at La Rinascente

Cardini cited Prada, Jil Sander and Roberto Cavalli among the best collections. "Each designer reinforces and strengthens his or her own identity, DNA and image — which is also a way to communicate the brand," she said. Cardini praised Fendi’s accessories. "It was a wonderful idea to revisit the baguette," she said. Cardini said she chose dresses, high-waist pants and Seventies pieces, in line with that trend. She did not mind the four-day week, but encourages secondary lines and young designers to hold presentations rather than shows. "It’s good to have big directional brands together, while the other more commercial products should be regrouped before or after those shows."

Jennifer Wheeler, vice president of designer apparel, Nordstrom

"It was a beautiful season for Milan. It felt more refined, sophisticated, sensual, softer. That Grace Kelly, refined Fifties silhouette felt new. And florals were such a huge trend." Other important trends and items included Seventies-flavored lean knits and flaring pants, cuffed shorts worn with tunics, color-blocking effects, layers of transparency and soft eyelash fringe. Wheeler also praised the broad range of appealing color, from blends of pale gray, mushroom and golden khaki through to brights. "We loved 6267, the dresses in particular, and also Marni and Versace. Dolce and Prada offered fashion escapism, and it was nice to see a return to elegance at Dolce & Gabbana."

Read "Grueling Pace Aside, Buyers Praise Milan For Color, New Shapes"


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