By  on March 14, 1994

PARIS -- Premiere Classe, the four-day accessories show here, part of the larger Carrousel de la Mode fashion trade show at the Jardin des Tuileries, enjoyed strong traffic and an international diversity of buyers.

About 8,000 people from 4,000 stores attended the show, which ended Tuesday, an increase of about 25 percent compared with last October's session.

There were 202 exhibitors this season, 54 of which had come to Premiere Classe for the first time. About 41 percent were from outside France, from countries such as Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands, Italy, Japan and the U.S.

U.S. exhibitors included Ann and Catherine Prevost, Patricia Underwood, Christopher's Enterprises, Leslie Block Designs and Timmy Woods.

A big change this season was that the temporary tents of the Carrousel formed one large rectangular show space, which encouraged buyers to stroll through the whole show, down to Premiere Classe, even if they had originally come just for the main apparel offerings.

Last fall, when Premiere Classe joined forces with Atmosphere d'Hiver, Paris sur Mode and Groupe des Halles, the accessories were housed in one tent grouping, while the fashion trade shows were in another.

"It is much better, mixed like this," said Deborah Cates, co-owner of Christopher's Enterprises, an Albuquerque, N.M., resource that sells Native American jewelry and western accessories.

Cates, whose company has been with Premiere Classe since its beginning in October 1989, said it "was the best mix ever" of accessories shown, but said buying was stagnant.

"Everything is still price driven," Cates said. Even so, she landed new accounts from Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece.

While some exhibitors appreciated the rise in traffic, others felt that Premiere Classe had become too big. The show itself had a makeshift entrance due to ongoing construction at the Tuileries site. The construction also meant that the tents and stands could not be organized uniformly and visitors found it hard to shop.

"For us, it has been a good show," said Lieve Van Gorp, an Antwerp, Belgium, designer of trendy leather accessories, and leather and fabric apparel. "But now, it's too big. It's so messy, there's not enough room. The level of the goods is going down. And now, there are new levels of bureaucracy."Xavier Clergerie, a co-founder and co-organizer of Premiere Classe, agrees that there are some technical problems that need to be resolved.

"This is our first time grouped together under one roof. Of course, there are things that need to improve," Clergerie explained, "Because of construction, it was a bit of a maze, but next season, there will be two distinct entrances for Premiere Classe and the apparel shows, and hopefully, the construction will be finished."

Buyers, though, seemed pleased with the offerings.

"I don't really like shows," said Marilyn Marks Cooper, president and co-owner of Nan Duskin. "We picked up quite a few things. But it was huge, and we felt like we didn't have enough time."

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