Luxury fashion enjoys a rebound, takes no risks

Fri Oct 8, 2010 12:28pm EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - Luxury designers such as Lanvin and Valentino were playing safe at Paris fashion week with collections strongly focused on their traditional styles, though they were declaring the downturn over.

While buyers are slowly returning to the shops in Western Europe and the United States, designers seem to have received the same instructions to create outfits, bags and shoes that are both sellable and clearly recognizable among fashionistas.

The message being received is now is not the time to test consumers' appetite for something radically new and different.

Many had wondered if designer Sarah Burton, who recently took over at Alexander McQueen after its eponymous founder's suicide in February, would remain faithful to its feral looks and tapestry-inspired dresses.

After the house's show on Tuesday, critics were unanimous she clearly did.

As for Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld delivered the brand's traditional fringed suits and Jean-Paul Gaultier at Hermes drew inspiration from the brand's equestrian heritage, with tight-fitting leather pants and suede panchos.

"Brands have a fantastic advantage when they have a flagship product, which is easily recognizable and very representative of their style," said Luca Solca, analyst at Bernstein.

"Blending the core codes with new ideas, and standing out is not easy - especially in a market where fast fashion retailers are making trends and new ideas ubiquitous."   Continued...

<p>Models present creations by Italian designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli as part of their Spring/Summer 2011 women's ready-to-wear fashion collection for fashion house Valentino during Paris Fashion Week October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>