European Union: Buyers Upbeat About Luxe Offerings

Luxury footwear made a serious statement during the European collections, and top buyers are again betting big on the category for fall ’13.

Fueling the excitement is a shift from sky-high platforms to more wearable single-sole, pointy-toe styles in a range of heel heights. Sexy over-the-knee boots and flats also are proving to be major trends.

“We are confident that fall will be a strong season,” said Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director at Barneys New York. “Heel heights are getting closer to the ground. It’s a season of flats. The strong story surrounding men’s-inspired shoes is very appropriate for us in terms of styling, and it’s a trend we can embrace and invest in heavily because the shoes are functional and comfortable.”

On the brand front, retailers also applauded the emergence of new designers such as Paul Andrew and Aquazzura. Meanwhile, Charlotte Olympia Dellal, Nicholas Kirkwood and Tabitha Simmons — who have all significantly expanded their collections and retail presences in the past few seasons — continue to top must-have lists as well.

Here, buyers unveil the biggest hits and top trends on and off the runway.

Ken Downing, SVP & fashion director, Neiman Marcus Group

Key trend: Fall gives us sexy pointed-toe shoes that add uptown glamour and lady luxe appeal to the rock-chic attitude of the season. On a single sole or platform, the pointed-toe pump is everywhere and worn with everything. Pointed toes on Chelsea and rocker boots add a downtown edge. Second-skin boots that are over the knee and often to the thigh become an alternative to a leather legging.
Brand hits: I am insane for Charlotte Olympia’s fairy tale. Who doesn’t love a great story? The owl handbags are a hoot.

Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director, Barneys New York
Key trends & brand hits:
On the runway, we responded strongly to Prada’s tread sole and Saint Laurent’s buckled combat boot (and all the various renditions of the combat boot in the showroom). Off the runway, the kilted vamp studded oxford at Church’s was a favorite. In terms of a newer extension of the men’s-inspired shoe trend, we are starting to see the monk-strap shoe. Colorwise, there is a strong black-and-white story. This message was particularly strong at Prada, Robert Clergerie and Gianvito Rossi, whose collection looked fantastic this season. We’re also seeing over-the-knee boots that fit like a pair of leggings. The leather pair we saw on Céline’s runway was a standout.
Name to watch: We are excited for the launch of Alberto Moretti this spring and feel the fall collection looked even more developed. The printed pony and patent leather double-monk-strap shoe was great.

Jeffrey Kalinsky, EVP of designer merchandising, Nordstrom
Brand hits:
The accessory of the season is the stretch leather over-the-knee boot at Céline. It is just beyond desirable. I love it in navy and gray. I loved the cool girl boots on the Saint Laurent runway.

Elizabeth Kanfer, fashion & co-brand director of accessories, Saks Fifth Avenue
Key trends:
We will be focusing on the range of menswear-inspired shoes, the bootie, over-the-knee boots, thigh-high boots, combat boots, motorcycle boots and the single-sole pointy-toe shoe in any silhouette. The colors that excite us the most are deep navy, army green and bordeaux. In Europe, we really saw the domination of black come through.
Brand hits: Footwear looked strong in New York, Milan and Paris. We loved the over-the-knee boots at Phillip Lim. In Milan, the range of menswear-inspired shoes from Marni stood out to us. In Paris, we expect to be excited by the boot offerings at Céline, Givenchy and Chanel.

Brooke Jaffe, fashion accessories director, Bloomingdale’s
Key trends:
Fall will be a season where fabrication and materials are so important. We saw less color in footwear and a greater emphasis on materials and interesting combinations.
Name to watch: While she isn’t brand-new, the Tabitha Simmons collection is divine.

Nicholas Mellamphy, VP & buying director, The Room at Hudson’s Bay Co.
Brand hits:
Lanvin’s presentation of lace-up oxfords proved how chic and interesting a flat could be. [I liked] the subtle shaping of the toe and discreet details such as gold piping. It’s interesting that in a time when the flat is being so celebrated Pucci manages to make their hyper-sexual over-the-knee boots so enthralling. I couldn’t stop looking at them. The use of a demure cognac suede helped convey the idea of sinner versus saint.
Name to watch: Paul Andrew. A mini stampede of excitement has grown around this emerging brand. For his second season, Paul presented a collection of sophisticated silhouettes that play well for the consumer that expects under-the-radar luxury without sacrificing a fashion aesthetic.

Rebecca Farrar-Hockley, buying director, Kurt Geiger
Brand hits:
Charlotte Olympia had an amazing collection, between her core styles and fantasy product. Roger Vivier keeps getting stronger and stronger. For our London designer customer, the Saint Laurent catwalk boots will become a must-have item.

Alberto Oliveros, head buyer, Level Shoe District
Brand hits:
Gianvito Rossi’s incredible combination of colors, materials and shapes have really caught my eye. The single sole has become a huge trend. Nicholas Kirkwood’s adaptation is spectacular, as it is still truly Nicholas Kirkwood — so strong and powerful, with his signature sophisticated twist.
Names to watch: To discover Paul Andrew is definitely one of my season’s highlights. His shoes are sophisticated, sexy, feminine and chic, but with an artisan look. At Aquazzura, Edgardo Osorio’s collection is extremely feminine, sexy, timeless and elegant — and each season he continues to prove his extraordinary talent. Sophia Webster has impressed me again this season for her incredible use of colors and materials, bringing an even more playful, vibrant and fun collection.

Heather Severs, accessories & jewelry director, Modaoperandi.com
Brand hits:
This season, we are adding Roger Vivier and Sophia Webster to our boutique. Roger Vivier has brought back an archival heel with a unique sculptural shape. We love Sophia’s fun, feminine and unexpected color and material combinations.

Laura Vinroot Poole, owner, Capitol
Key trends:
Towering heels feel like a dying breed and boyish oxfords and mid-calf boots are taking their place.
Brand hits: Céline’s leather legging boots were spectacular. Stella McCartney and Dries Van Noten hopped on the creeper trend with black patent and rich neutrals. Lanvin sent out almost every cocktail dress with lace-up oxfords, while Giambattista Valli sent out my dream look of white-soled creepers with some of his fluttering confections. Tabitha Simmons and Rupert Sanderson showed the most perfectly gorgeous kitten heels.