By  on September 12, 1994

NEW YORK -- Buyers will have a lot on their minds, from new versions of slipdresses to high tech fabrics, as they shop the Fashion Coterie here this month.

The show, to be held Sept. 25-27 at the Plaza Hotel with more than 300 exhibitors, will give retailers the opportunity to check out emerging trends for spring, as well as find new resources. But many already have definite targets.

One trend that seems to be hanging on is the slipdress, which retailers say was a hot seller, but needs some reinterpretation or the high-end market. Also piquing interest are new fabrics, whether in high tech synthetics or textured natural fibers. Shine is becoming more important, they also note, and color continues to shake off the long hold of neutrals.

"Shine will go forward," said Lavelle Olexa, vice president of fashion merchandising for Lord & Taylor. "I think it has a long life. "Silver has been strong, and I think gold will become important going forward. There will be a continued interest in the technological aspects of fabrics, and new fabrics and ways of working with them."

As for color, Olexa said, "It's only beginning. Once the fashion community starts to wear it more, it will take off."

Olexa noted that the enduring slipdress will go forward, but "with new interpretations."

The retailer also gave a nod of approval to the Coterie. "It's easy to get an overview of trends when everyone is together in one place. I always see some common denominators, and our buyers find the Coterie an opportunity to become aware of new people."

Dana Hurwitz, owner of Scarboro Fair in Glencoe, Ill., uses the Coterie to look for new resources, check out accessories lines and finish spring buying. Even though her store is not trend-oriented, she said, "I want to see what's new and directional." Hurwitz said she doesn't usually leave orders at the Coterie. "I prefer to work in the showroom, so I use the Coterie to get an overview of people I want to visit later."

Hurwitz will be exploring dress resources. "Women are looking for dresses and have a big problem finding them."However, the retailer added that she thinks slipdresses are finished at her price point. "When something goes down to every price level, then my customers stop wanting it," she said.

Mel Baker, owner of Mel & Me, a designer boutique in Cranston, R.I., will come to the Coterie looking for new resources and to pick up immediate merchandise. He finds most trends are determined by his trips to Europe, "but I'm always looking to see what's around."

Baker said his customers are responding well to innovative fabrics, such as a Tasmanian wool with Lycra spandex, and textured fabrics.

"Bouclé has been selling very well. Texture is important. Flat fabrics are too boring, and there has to be something interesting, a reason to buy," said Baker.

Something interesting to buy is what vendors hope they'll be showing.

Contemporary sportswear firm Go Silk, for example, will feature "a lot of sportswear dresses and beaded vests from India," said Denise Williamson, director of sales, "and our knitwear groups have really grown."

She expects a ribbon yarn racer-back tank top and matching cardigan to do well and some multicolored textured knits that work with wovens.

"Our collection has taken a much more body-conscious approach with jackets hugging the body more," said Williamson.

The Coterie is the only New York show the company does, she added, and the company's show appointment schedule is already almost full. At the last show, she said, the firm had 60 working appointments.

Donna Maione, a contemporary knitwear designer, has been attending the Coterie since she started her business two years ago. "I didn't even have a showroom the first time I did the show. I got all my customers there."

Maione will show immediate fall deliveries, because she has a lot of requests for reorders, as well as resort and early spring. She expects her terry knit group to do well for resort and continue into spring.

"There's always an interest in my textured nubby sweaters, and I'm showing a new grassy green color for early spring, which is different," said Maione.The contemporary showroom Annett B. will take four lines to the Coterie: Beth Schaeffer, Elizabeth Wayman, Jill Stuart and a new line, Ava.

Annett Breindel, owner of the showroom, expects Elizabeth Wayman's rayon prints and ensembles combining pastel linens with softer fabrics to do especially well.

Expected bestsellers for Beth Schaeffer are her knits in a muted, dusty pastel palette and her dresses in linen with chiffon and satin, in long or short shaped or flowing styles, Breindel said. Schaeffer also introduced some new length silhouettes -- at the knee -- for spring. The Ava line is strong in triacetate suit separates in dusty metallic shades.

"Jill Stuart will continue to do a very itemy line," Breindel continued, citing silk plaid taffeta dresses trimmed with velvet, satin kilts and small luxurious angora sweaters in pastels and black and white.

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