By and  on January 31, 2007

The dress is more popular than ever in recent memory, but you don't have to tell Nicole Miller.

The designer has made dresses the centerpiece of her collections for the past 25 years, and retailers said the quest for dresses in a range of categories, from daytime to social occasion and petites, has made this Miller's moment.

Of course, Miller has had many moments. Over the years, she has mined everything from the ancient Mayan civilization and Byzantine mosaics to Celtic priestesses and vintage Seventies and Eighties styles for her prints and silhouettes. The designer's ability to find ideas in diverse places is what keeps her collection interesting and keeps fans coming back. Beloved by bridesmaids for her elegant alternatives to the typical poufy atrocities, she's equally admired by professional women for her unique color palette and use of innovative fabrics. Then, of course, there are her evening gowns, which are long and slinky for spring.

Miller has described her designs as "sexy and feminine with an edge." Retailers use superlatives to describe her business.

"The dress business in general has been very strong, but [Nicole Miller] is the best of the best," said Frank Doroff, senior executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women's at Bloomingdale's. "Their business is incredible. They're probably one of the best-performing dress resources that we have. Nicole Miller has carved out a great niche for themselves. The growth rate is incredible."

Donna Wolff, divisional merchandise manager and operating vice president of dresses, coats and swimwear at Bloomingdale's, added, "Miller's clothes have an amazing fit, and nobody has a pulse on prints and color the way she does. There's a great synergy between those dresses and our customer because the prints and styles are fresh and young and sexy."

Nicole Miller sales are also on fire at Macy's Herald Square, according to Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director of Macy's East. "She's very individualistic. She has a definite sensibility and has been known for her prints. I love the way she reinvented herself with her prints and shine. She's been evolving. Her colors are quite unique. Nicole has her own source of inspiration and point of view. She's definitely going for a more refined approach."

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