By and  on September 21, 2005

NEW YORK — Finding high-end specialty items is what it's all about at the Atelier and Pacific Designer Collection shows, which ended their three-day runs at the Rihga Royal Hotel here on Tuesday.

The Atelier show featured 86 designers, who took a colorful Arts and Crafts approach to fashion. Many of the suites featured lively ensembles with everything from unusual cuts to colorful Japanese hand-dyeing techniques. Even with this approach, the new sense of simplicity so prevalent in sportswear has begun to impact these designers.

German label Heide Ost, for instance, showed almost-minimal white silk, cotton and microfiber jackets, pants and skirts, some of which featured large black dots. Vitamin Inc.'s collection offered white cotton poplin and cotton seersucker jackets, as well as a graphic jacket with a red, black and gray pebble motif. Vitamin's line wholesales from $75 to $220.

On the artsier front, Ocelot offered silk-knit fabrics in an Itajime dye, which takes three days and uses plant and insect dyes. Angelina DeAntonis, designer, said, "We have a lot of repeat buyers. People are not quite as conservative in terms of buying as they were in past seasons."

Ocelot's wholesale prices range from $118 to $380. DeAntonis added that she has had a lot of requests for immediate deliveries. "A lot of people have asked for merchandise at the beginning of October," she said.

Kane & Sells also went for unusual, one-of-a-kind Shiburi dyeing techniques for separates, which ranged in wholesale prices from $200 to $1,000. "The show has been excellent," said Michael Kane, a partner in the firm. "It's been more energetic, and the consumer confidence seems up. People finally seem to be relaxing with all the political and environmental stresses. They are a lot more calm."

Lola Herrera, designer of the Lola of San Francisco and Lola Too lines, took more of a seasonless approach, offering light pieces alongside wool bouclé coats, asymmetrical wool jackets with rainbow-thread topstitching and hemp denim coats with cotton lining. Wholesale price points range from $250 to $1,100.

Carol Furr, a buyer at Memphis-based boutique Kittie Kyle, was perusing the Lola showroom. "In this day and age, you have to have something to make people want to buy it, something with an edge," Furr said. "We are always looking for designers who use fabrics in innovative ways."Just a floor away, the Pacific Designer Collection was celebrating its 20th year. It showed holiday and spring looks from 20 designers throughout North America.

"Our show continues to be very specialized, high-end and very carefully juried," said Ann McKenna, the show's organizer, who also brings her own line of knits and wovens. "It's very important that we show lines that are of great quality and have a record of delivering on time."

As for McKenna's line, she said she was selling her novelty knits in classic shapes along with her printed silk bias-cut skirts. Her line wholesales from $185 to $245.

Nancy Lowe Turner, who is opening her 2,000-square-foot Atlanta-based boutique, Elements of Style, in just a couple of weeks, was browsing the show for her spring needs.

"I was hoping to be open before I got here, but it didn't happen that way," Lowe Turner said. "I was working for IBM for 31 years and finally decided to do what I really wanted to do and open a clothing store."

Lowe Turner said she was looking forward to seeing Catherine Bacon's spring line, since she bought quite a bit of it for fall.

Catherine Bacon's Novato, Calif.-based collection was rich in color for spring, with Africa and Tibet being her main inspirations. Specializing in hand-painted and printed textiles for both day and evening, the line featured a silk trumpet skirt, an ivory and brown silk and linen jacket, blue and green reversible silk charmeuse pants and various hand-painted tops. Wholesaling from $110 to $550, the collection has been recently modernized by Bacon, who said she realized the importance of denim in today's wardrobe.

"I'm purposely wearing this jacket with jeans to show the versatility," Bacon said. "That way buyers will see how modern the line can be."

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