Designers’ showrooms are scattered all over Paris. Some are in permanent headquarters, others are located in atmospheric 18th century apartments and industrial ateliers. It is in these rooms that the real business of fashion get underway as buying teams write orders for the season ahead. While the catwalk shows deliver a designer’s message and brand image, in the showrooms one is witness to how the big ideas are translated into real clothes. The highly skilled Lane Crawford team work at lightning speed to decipher the codes, distill the ideas and select the pieces that will make our hearts skip a beat on the store floor.
At Haider Ackermann, all eyes are on the wonderful metallic threaded tweeds. “Ackermann always does beautiful jackets and this season they are more fitted,” says Lianna Man, Vice President of Womenswear, Jewellery and Home & Lifestyle. “Tweed was a huge part of the show, and the stitching detail at the back gives it a punkish element.” Ackermann’s pleated kilt skirts with asymmetric leather waistbands and his metallic threaded leopard print pieces are also a hit with the team who praise the versatility of the styles that segue from day to evening.
On the catwalk, Chitose Abe, the creative designer and CEO of sacai – a Lane Crawford bestseller – delivered a dazzling collection that mixed military sweaters with big oversize dropped waist coats, with tiny pleated cotton dresses and flounced skirts. “sacai works so well because it suits all shapes and sizes and you can wear it in so many ways. These grosgrain ribbon striped shirtdresses for example, you could wear loose or belted over leggings ” says Kelly Wong, Divisional Merchandise Manager, plucking up a multi-pleat cotton dress fastened with bondage like ribbon straps. “I love this pleat dress – the movement is so pretty,” adds Wong, who also adds swishy Baja striped wool skirts, windcheaters and sacai’s signature hybrid knits to the order mix.
The Serbian-born, British-based designer Roksanda Ilincic will debut at Lane Crawford with the pre-fall collection. Ilincic has garnered a global following for her elegant designs that harness a mix of industrial and organic elements and her striking sense of colour. This season expect cobalt blue, fuchsia pink and ochre. At a beautiful apartment showroom overlooking the romantic Place des Vosges, the team hone in on the key items where her versatile pieces take centre stage.
As at all the showrooms, fit models are on hand to model the looks for the buyers. Sinuous fitted jackets with a flounce of chiffon at the cuff; sensational abstract print silk maxi skirts and waterfall neckline dresses with mid-calf hems are all paraded and scrutinised alongside multi-coloured patchwork fur swing coats. The bright optimistic hues and the ladylike lines seduce.
During the week, the team conquers multiple appointments and shows from stalwarts like Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Celine as well as new upcoming brands working from a timetable that is organised with military-like precision. The new mid-calf length skirt, flared trousers and culottes, fitted textural jackets are all given the thumbs up in a season that highlights multi-functioning designs to suit the demands of our busy, varied lives.
One of the last stops is Isabel Marant – a new brand for Lane Crawford – that will be a major new feature for all the stores. “Marant has got a strong following – it suits our customer dressing for the weekend. There are always great prints and a free spirit,” says Man. Standout styles include Marant’s high-waisted slim trousers with military buttons, flirty hemmed wool mini skirts, cropped knits and oversize print jackets.
Passion, innovation, service and a complicit understanding of how design translates into our real lives – these are the qualities of an inspiring store. With Paris wrapped, multiple coffees consumed and suitcases packed, the Lane Crawford team returns to Hong Kong with order books filled and imaginations fired.