By  on May 16, 2005

It's a laid-back, bohemian spring, at least fashion-wise.

Stores from J.C. Penney to Bloomingdale's to Neiman Marcus report the bohemian trend really took off this season, with women buying fuller skirts and embellished tunics and camisoles across different price points. Tunics; short, flippy skirts; longer, tiered skirts, and anything in white — especially denim — are all being scooped up by shoppers, according to a retail check around the country.

Even though April’s comp-store sales results were a mixed bag because of rising gas prices and economic jitters, there appear to be pockets of strength, especially among teen retailers and stores that focus on high-end merchandise. The latter are seeing sales increases this season of up to 25 percent, with consumers showing little price resistance.

“Our customer is loving the whole look and feel of all this ethnicity,” said Joan Kaner, senior vice president, fashion director at Neiman Marcus, where comp-store sales rose 14.2 percent last month. African tribal prints, gypsy and tiered peasant skirts have been selling very well, she said, also noting that Jean Paul Gaultier’s multistriped, floor-length skirt with ribbon appliqué has sold out. Neiman’s also has done well with Dries Van Noten’s printed skirts, Marni’s African print separates and Roberto Cavalli’s zebra tunic. In the bridge area, “the whole Tahari collection has been phenomenal. it’s priced well and has absolutely beautiful detail, beading and embroidery,” said Kaner.

“We are having a very good spring season,” said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s. “White is the big color, but trends also include fuller skirts and skirts that are slightly ruffled and feminine-looking and always worn with flat shoes.”

Other trends at Bloomingdale’s include the next stage of ponchos, such as shrug-like wraps or sweaters with loose sleeves, including those by Max Azria. Among Bloomingdale’s top-selling lines are Viktor & Rolf, Theory and Giorgio Armani black label. Ruttenstein added that recent window displays of Jean Paul Gaultier’s big skirts resulted in 80 of them being sold.

Michael Fink, Saks Fifth Avenue’s senior fashion director, said top spring sellers include a ruffled collar cotton Junya Watanabe blouse; Marc Jacobs’ full-pleated cropped pants, full skirt and cashmere cardigans; Moroccan-inspired styles from Blumarine, and embellished jackets from Dolce & Gabbana and Moschino, which, Fink said, women wear with their jeans or full skirts.

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