We parted ways in a showroom. Working literally up until the final minute before I had to get in a car to be whisked away for an evening flight back to London. It was an impromptu goodbye set in the middle of exactly what this experience was about; life as a buyer for LUISAVIAROMA.
Massimo was shooting piece after piece, Ania was selecting, organising and modelling, Luisa was ordering and clarifying business details, and Silvano was liasing with pretty much everyone in the building. It was a final glimpse and example of how this dynamic team work.
I came into this opportunity with pre-conceived ideas of what being a buyer would be like. I’d read many buyer reports on WWD for years beforehand, and genuinely took an interest in the business behind fashion. It sounded simple enough. And most of the details that define the job, the processes and procedures were almost exactly as I had imagined, give or take a few points.
What was most surprising was the team that I got to accompany. LUISAVIAROMA is a unique and powerful establishment. Since the 1930′s it has been at the forefront of bringing the worlds most important fashion to Florence and the luxury market. Whilst also expanding to offer worldwide sales via LUISAVIAROMA.COM. It is a family business, with an admirable heritage and an incredible far-sighted future. The team is diversified and opinions are varied, which is reflected in the final buying. When catering to an expansive, worldwide clientele this is critical to their successes.
But whilst they know their clients and do the job at hand with incredible dedication, the LUISAVIAROMA team also know how to enjoy themselves.
I developed the nick-name “Scotty Boy”, we took spontaneous group photos, one of which was whilst we were at the Givenchy show, and looks set for the poster of “Now on Broadway: LUISAVIAROMA the MUSICAL”. We kicked off each morning in the car with Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” at full volume. We got lost on multiple occasions. We teased Silvano about many things, which I noticed was a recurring trend. Massimo, sang, drummed or made saxophone sounds (quite a talent!) to pretty much every song we heard. And at the end of the day they really are like family to each other.
It was a complete whirlwind tour of the industry. I met some incredibly talented and dedicated people, who tirelessly represent the best in fashion; not to forget, also the new and independent. I am certain this is merely my first of many more trips to Paris fashion week.
Admittedly, some of the gleaming polish that covers the industry was rubbed off as I got to see people at work. Bright beautifully cropped street-style images, and high-profile events and shows might capture one aspect of the industry but behind closed doors, although still beautifully dressed, business is as usual for the those buyers here to work. Delivery schedules, number crunching, mounds of organization, style codes, and fabric specifications are just a few examples of what we were juggling during 12-14 hour days.
What is reassuring is that I honestly love the reality as much as the fantasy.
Thank you Silvano, Ania, Luisa and Massimo.
Also thank you: Elisa, Camilla, Veronica, Sandra, Graziella and Andrea.
See you next time.
By Scott Stephenson aka Scotty Boy!

We’ve been darting around Paris at a phenomenal speed, fitting in showroom after showroom, and of course the odd coveted fashion show into an almost never-ending schedule.
Luisa and I managed to get to the early showing of Haider Ackermann‘s collection on Saturday, a serene and beautiful show, seeped in exquisite, fluid and technically rigorous garments (Haider if you’re reading this, please start a menswear line soon!). During the same day we also saw Viktor & Rolf put on a show, taking layering to a whole new dimension. We headed back out into the cold Paris air, wishing we had 40 coats on! The Ann Demeulemeester show was next up – cue the dark styling, romantic tailoring and dramatic feathers! Love you Ann! In between the madness of those shows, we managed to buy a bunch of Julien Macdonald, Richard Nicoll, Peter Pilotto and Meadham Kirchhoff. All amazing and all for you guys!
By Sunday morning we were flying around the Lanvin warehouse-size showroom. I for one got a serious workout, doing laps whilst retrieving garments and relaying information between the team. It was tribal, delicious, luxurious, playful and just genuinely amazing. I may have gotten a little emotional at one stage, and I caught myself a few times, just stopping to think of where I was and what I was doing. Still so unbelievable.
But who has time to think, when you have work to do and then shows to get to. Au Revoir Lanvin, Bonjour Celine! See the review by me to get a better understanding of why we love Celine at Luisa Via Roma. The show was followed by a quick lunch, and then it was back to work.
Swung by the Rad Hourani showroom that evening, where I became a model for some menswear pieces (although it’s all unisex really) and found myself wanting it all. “Is that a minimalist, black jacket with slim extra long bunching sleeves, gorgeous collar, transformable details and complimentry amounts of coolness? Why yes, I’ll have four please!”
After they pried me away from the collection, we sped off to the Givenchy show. Headed backstage afterwards to mingle with the talented folks who manage to put such inspiring collections together each season. Bravo all!
Since then we have also attended the Emanuel Ungaro show. Visited the showrooms of: Charlotte Olympia who was offering some serious oh-la-la shoes in daring and fun colours, Michael Angel (a fellow Australian, and more specifically Melbournian!) who we love this season, and Proenza Schouler. And, yes there is more, we also stopped in to see the Giambattista Valli show in which it was nice to see some solid daywear.

If that wasn’t enough (and can you imagine how tired we are?) we also had to fight for our lives at the Balmain showroom yesterday it was that busy, not to mention strain several muscles trying to lift some of those chained, sequined, beaded, jewelled and roped dresses and jackets. Some of them I’m guessing were heavier than the models wearing them! We studied some red-carpet-ready gowns at Nina Ricci and paid a visit to Sandra Backlund. Ending the day with a quiet, relaxing dinner in the Marais district.
In amongst getting to see how life on the inside works, and viewing some of the most influential and important fashion that will ever exist. From designers that I have admired for a long, long, long time, I’ve also had the privilege to start to get to know the team, both here in Paris (including the delightful Graziella, Elisa and Sandra of the accessories and shoes team), and a select few back in Florence (special mention to Camilla!) where Luisa Via Roma is based. They are a big group of friends that always manage to create a dynamic mix of work and play, which comes off as so refreshing in amongst an industry known for its icy reception, at times.
But I can honestly assure you the only thing cold about my time in Paris and with the Luisa Via Roma team, is the weather.
Scott Stephenson

model makeup_givenchy.jpg

There is no denying that Celine at the moment is doing well. It took only 3 collections (2 of which were pre-collections) for Phoebe Philo to develop a sound following of clients, positive reviews and extensive editorial coverage. All of which define a successful brand.
Understandably then, the pressure was on and expectations were high for the Fall/Winter 2010 show held on Sunday in Paris. The formula for the success at Celine seems relatively straightforward, simple wearable clothing, with beautiful finishing. But more importantly it is the timing that has really propelled the brand forward.
Fashion is undeniably cyclic in its nature and the way it re-invents itself with almost predictable precision. Celine has provided the perfect antidote (and for some of us, a complete saviour) to the excess and opulence of recent fashion. She has wiped the slate clean. It not only means she can start fresh with her own ideas at Celine rather than trying to expand on what has already been done within the house under previous designers; but it also means women are being offered a new direction – clean, chic, sportswear.
It’s time to pull out the moulded shoulder pads, scrape off the paillettes, loosen the bandages, lower the hemline and add a good dose of genuinely wearable practicality. Slim, reduced coats. Simple elegantly cut silk blouses. Scatterings of leather detailing. Practical chic shoes and accessories. It was all there, rendered in a versatile and lasting palette of, mostly, but not exclusively navy, black, khaki and white.
It’s safe to say, that the high expectations were met.
This is the new luxury.
By Scott Stephenson

The Givenchy Woman

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Although the venue had an icy draft, coming in from the dark Parisian night outside the red-lit building; the chill which ran down my spine at the beginning of the show, was brought on by the opening look rather than the elements. A clean beige double-breasted coat, worn over a white knit with a high neck, black tailored pants and, jewelled gloves and a clutch in a passionate, resplendent shade of red. It was striking at once.
The dose of paired back severity, against an ornate romanticism remained at a perfect ratio from open to close. It meant that Riccardo Tisci could explore the current mood of fashion in alleviating itself from the opulence, and excess of past seasons, whilst still exploring his own roots as a designer. These broad influences came tied under the idea of ski-wear and scuba-wear. The fair-isle knits, worn tucked into black zippered, peeled down and open dense skirts, were the most obvious example of these references.
The remainder of the collection focused on Tisci’s tailoring. In black leather, black wool and black lace, mixed with jolts of red. Diaphanous streams of silk and feathers kept everything fluid in amongst the jackets and coats. The panelling and proportions seemed right, not too minimal as to seem ordinary or unremarkable, just strong and defiant, yet still relaxed.
Exactly as I imagine the Givenchy woman.
By Scott Stephenson

Experience Lanvin

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So it’s day five, and the biggest, most important appointment of the day is the Lanvin showroom. Whilst other labels settle for small hotel suites, or quaint Parisian apartments to welcome the buyers, Lanvin (although privately owned) means big business. It’s polished, efficient and effective. Their new location, perched literally on the edge of the La Seine river, occupies an entire floor of the sprawling, modern, almost industrial building.
Table after table are lined up with military precision throughout the vast space, with each one manned by a member of the Lanvin sales team. Models are endlessly filing out of hidden change rooms, wandering and weaving around, dressed in the collection. The champagne, sparkling water and croissants are in endless supply.
But when you’re travelling with the Luisa Via Roma team, there is really no time to be swept up by the temptations of expensive alcoholic beverages, and French pastries. Whilst in previous seasons, Silvano explained to me that they could spend a whole day at the Lanvin showroom, this time around we had just three hours. It was full steam ahead. Ania juggled her role as a buyer with that of being a second model. Silvano chose pieces with incredible swiftness, with feathers flying everywhere. Massimo’s camera shutter was at full speed. And Luisa complied the order in record time. I was left darting back and forth lending a hand, opinion or insight wherever possible.
We left on time, with a job well done. Made all the more effortless by the fact that it was indeed a beautiful collection.

London Show Rooms

Posted by camilla in Follow The Buyers | VIPs - (Comments Off)

Paris fashion week isn’t just about the French. Droves of designers from around the world set up base during the week in clusters of showrooms, to exhibit their wares.
The collections from London fashion week are almost impossible to order and buy whilst over in the UK. Instead, most British based designers hold off and present their collections during the Paris shows. For this reason there is an event organised by the British Fashion Council titled “LONDON show ROOMS”, which provides a high-profile platform for many London based designers.
Although we arrived early, it wasn’t long before the split level building, with small interconnecting rooms was brimming with important buyers, editors and press.
During the hustle of trying to select pieces from Mary Katrantzou, House of Holland, and Todd Lynn (all of which the designers themselves were present, to talk you through each piece), we managed to bump into an ornately dressed Anna Dello Russo. Meanwhile, Carine Roitfeld was getting a whirlwind tour in the next room by David Koma.
It was madness!

With the stadium seating at capacity, moody amber lighting and whirls of theatrical smoke thinning over the giant room, it was that time of the season again; it was unmistakably time for the Lanvin Fall Winter 2010 womenswear show in Paris.
The opening look, a belted neutral coat, with untamed fur tracing the back of the sleeves and around the shoulders, established the mood. Strong and wild.
As usual Alber Elbaz continues to handle fabric in a unique way. Embedding incredible structure into voluminous, lively folds and draping. Beautiful tailoring made soft, pliable and infused with a visible lightness, formed the first chapter of the show. The dropped sleeves, untamed darts that melt away into the body of a jacket, and pinched edging seems to be becoming a signature in Lanvin tailoring; instantly recognisable. It not only gives the garments a point of difference through beautiful shaping, but also ensures the rigidity, and severity usually associated with tailoring is eliminated. Jackets and coats remain malleable and easy to wear, in fact, a pleasure to wear.
This is something Lanvin always delivers on, and why women continue to buy. Complimenting and hospitable cuts, paired with luxe fabrics, and romantic details (grosgrain ribbon, raw edges) elicit great emotion and considerable comfort. A reason to invest.
As the show picked up momentum, details got sharper. With each exit, the tribal reference explained by Alber before the show started to become more and more evident. Feather trim. Asymmetrical toga cuts. Sharp pleating. Brazen metallics. Fierce furs.
Ultimately it was a strong statement within the Lanvin vocabulary, that spoke of something new and modern, whilst also whispering the undeniably familiar.
By Scott Stephenson

Day One

Posted by camilla in Follow The Buyers - (Comments Off)

Bonjour! So I’m finally here. After years upon years of waiting, dreaming and working towards touching down in Paris (especially when fashion week is involved) I can safely say, it does not disappoint. It was beautiful architecture, quaint streets and history-soaked-high-fashion from the get go (Hermes duty free anyone?)
In the space of 24 hours with the uber-talented, ultra-amazing, multi-tasking, fashion buyer geniuses of Silvano, Ania and Luisa; and expert photographer Massimo, we’ve managed to squeeze in the following: a visit to the Christopher Kane showroom (ladies, start pre-ordering now, the embroidered leather biker jackets are simply worth financial ruin. Plus Mr. Kane swung by, and he is such a gentleman!) viewings of the Jean-Pierre Braganza collection (also a nice guy!), a mad dash to the Balmain show, which left Silvano with gold fever, and a front row view of the Rick Owens show. I could almost smell the leather as it sped past, elegantly tailored and zippered around the body of each model.
With every experience comes a wealth of knowledge, day one is down, and I retire with the conclusion that this is a tough job. But here at Luisa Via Roma, it is a job done by people who honestly love what they do. Seeking out the worlds best, most advanced, most forward moving fashion and presenting it to you guys, their clients, at exclusive speed comes naturally to this team. And they always manage to have fun along the way.
I’m so thrilled to have been invited along for the ride. Talk to you soon.
Scott Stephenson

Introducing Scott Stephenson, fresh off a flight from London! Here the buying team snapped him in front of the Tour Effiel before beginning day one of getting to experience life as a buyer for Luisa Via Roma!

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