What to Wear to Designer Preview, Part I

As Andy Warhol once said, department stores are a lot like museums. And sometimes—like when you’re shopping for Nordstrom Designer Preview—you want a tour guide.

Yep, it’s time for our yearly runway celebration, in which we gather the most amazing looks from brands like Céline, Valentino, Lanvin—and present them together in one gorgeous show. Nordstrom shoppers from all over the country fly in for the presentation and party—and the exclusive trunk show that follows the next day.

simone rocha black separatesFor your consideration: layers of sheer Simone Rocha separates from SPACE

So how about that guide?

Enter Shawn Serven, SPACE ambassador at our downtown-Seattle flagship. A true student and fan of fashion, and someone who thinks big when it comes to personal style, Shawn’s also just crazy low-key, really fun and totally approachable. In his words, he’s at the store “to be the most excited about the designers we love and carry, and to pass as much of it along as each customer wants.”

Basically, he’s the perfect person to help us figure out what to wear on July 28 for this year’s runway celebration.

While it’s important to note that there are no real rules or dress codes when it comes to Designer Preview, it’s worth thinking about how a whole community of fashion lovers will approach this opportunity to relax and be dazzled. To see and be seen in the very best way. As we wandered through the racks of American, European and emerging designers, Shawn and I figured there are three ways to approach fashion shows like this one.

gucci dress shawn serven

The first is to make it about the designer—the brand, the look, the season. To immerse yourself in that one look—say, Gucci‘s eclectically electric glam secretary—and really live that part.

gucci dress

This deceptively sweet sweater-and-skirt look from Saint Laurent feels positively immersion-ready.

saint laurent

As does this wide, wide-legged Céline look—fresh off the runway and ready for our runway. Add a giant gold earring and you’re golden, because of course a pair of exaggerated, extraordinary trousers work every bit as well as a skirt or dress.


On the other hand, you might be into making your look all about you. In other words, going with a collection of pieces you feel excited about and showing off your own take on the season. Shawn pulled out this ruffled mid-length PASKAL dress as a way of talking about a canvas—though certainly not a blank one.

paskal red

From there you might layer on extra-long Simone Rocha earrings. (Red on red, sure, but remember our visit to the designer’s London showroom? It’s all about pink, lavender and the shock of red together.) Or add a pair of her amazing pointy-toe brogues.

simone rocha earring

simone rocha red brogue

Or it might be more your style to rock a sandal, flat, wedge or bootie from Miu Miu, Malone Souliers, Loeffler Randall or Dior. Make it more feminine, make it more ’70s rock ‘n’ roll, make it more your own.

miu miu sandal

malone souliers


dior bootie

Now, the third way to approach fashion-show dressing has everything to do with splitting the difference: taking your favorite designer’s point of view and doing you. It’s all about starting with what you love, whether that means a polka-dotted Dior frock or a Roksanda jumpsuit, and playing stylist with the rest.

Go back and look at the designer’s Fashion Week show; what was their approach, and how can you adapt it? Talk with Shawn or your favorite salesperson about what they know—often they can fill you in on the inspiration and influence behind the pieces, and from there you can put together an homage and a statement.

dior pink

roksanda jumper

Which brings us to the one important element that’s missing from this post: your handbag. We’ll be back soon to show off some of our favorite clutches and mini totes for high-style events.

DISCOVER: all designer collections