What to Wear to Nordstrom Designer Preview

Collections from top American and European designers are almost never shown together on one runway, but each summer Nordstrom pulls together amazing fall looks from Céline, Valentino, Lanvin and more for a best-of-the-best fashion show event known as Designer Preview. This year’s gorgeous parade is on July 23—on the epic Seattle waterfront—and as always, all proceeds benefit the Seattle Art Museum.

An image from Designer Preview 2014

Among those expected in the front row: One of our favorite collaborators, Caroline Issa, and two of the most girl crush-worthy editors from Refinery29, Annie Georgia Greenberg and Paula Goldstein. Instagrammin’ style watchers will recognize Cara Van Brocklin from Cara Loren, Blair Eadie from Atlantic-Pacific and Wendy Nguyen from Wendy’s Lookbook—all flying in for the big event.

You’re invited too, of course—tickets are available via SAMS, Seattle Art Museum’s supporter group. The only question left to settle, then, is what will we all wear?

Such queries always bring us around to Shawn Serven, certified F.O.K. (Friend of Olivia Kim) and Style Whisperer at our Seattle flagship location.

As it turns out, Serven is advising the aforementioned professionally chic Instagram gals on their looks as well, and he was kind enough to pull out some of the options for us so we could share them here.

From right to left, what you see above are three Valentino dresses, a plaid McQueen frock, a graphic and roomy Céline number, Lanvin in leopard, a shimmery collared schoolgirl look from Marco di Vincenzo (also pictured below but not available online; please call our Seattle flagship for more information), a flared floral skirt from Oscar de la Renta and Dior doing neo-tweed. (Our Dior ready-to-wear is also unavailable online; please call so we can help you see it in person.)

But above and beyond those particulars, what Serven is serving (sorry! had to!) is pre-fall in a nutshell: soft metallics, playful text-based embellishments and florals that are fit not just for spring and summer but all year long.

Marco di Vincenzo


First and foremost, Serven says Nordstrom Designer Preview is “fashion month in one night.” It’s a prime opportunity to “wear your most special look.” Neither black-tie formal nor, you know, a daytime ladies lunch sort of vibe, the appropriate frame for an event like this is “fashion-forward cocktail attire.”

To help further clarify (above): Prabal Gurung floral, a Saint Laurent LBD, an emerald two-piece from Marni and Dolce&Gabbana’s gorgeous red roses.

Of course, it’s not just about who and what you wear, but how, when and why, too. Serven says his clients are shopping more and more in the moment these days and getting lots of mileage—in the form of layers and strategic multiseason mixology—out of the in-between seasons like pre-fall and resort.

It’s a buy now, wear now and wear later world, and this is the perfect moment to get in on it.

While you’re at it, keep your mind and your options open. Serven says he actually hates planning outfits—and when he says it he rolls his eyes in a pretty adorable way. What he means is that, sure, he sees the value in laying out Saturday night’s outfit on Tuesday morning, but by the time Saturday actually rolls around … Tuesday’s plans might feel less than perfect.

So have a backup plan, and a backup plan for your backup plan. It might just mean lining up a heel and an oxford, or prepping a poppy jacket to layer over a simple sheath, but it could also mean an alternate outfit. Either way, when Designer Preview—or any other big event—rolls around, you can live in the moment and wear what feels right.

Serven’s pre-fall shoe picks; “Olivia would totally get that Prada oxford and wear it with a skirt,” he says.

Lanvin necklace

Stay tuned to the Thread as we countdown the days that remain before Designer Preview with more inspiration, and check back afterward; we’ll be sharing our favorite runway moments, party details and more.

Shop: Nordstrom Designer Fashion Brands

—Laura Cassidy