By and  on February 2, 1994

PARIS -- The Porte de Versailles Pret-a-Porter show, which ended its four-day stint Tuesday, was bustling with interested buyers and energized vendors, all heralding an unexpectedly upbeat mood for the fall-winter 1994-95 season.

Color and shape appear to be making a solid comeback after a quiet spring-summer spell of drapey white and ecru clothes.

An array of rich autumnal hues, sexy and refined silhouettes and innovative fabric mixes were the show's strongest trends.

Jack Bernard, general commissioner of the Federation du Pret-a-Porter Feminine, said, "We were tense, expecting a difficult, morose show. But Saturday at noon we noted a marked increase in traffic."

Attendance figures were not available at press time.

Foreign visitors accounted for 50 percent of total attendance, mainly from Europe. The event usually attracts 50,000 buyers.

There were 840 exhibitors this season, an increase of 4 percent over last year's salon. Despite the solid attendance, buyers were not necessarily spending, vendors said.

"Though customers came back, they are suffering from the early dates. They are still in the middle of sales from last winter and they just came to look," said Laurent de Blegiers, an organizer of Groupe des Halles, one of a half-dozen sections in the Pret.

"People are more enthusiastic than last winter," continued de Blegiers. "They want something new, more refined and feminine. They're through with the basics; they want fashion again."

And in the more fashion-forward sections -- Groupe des Halles and Atmosphere -- that's just what they found: Mao jackets and Chinese dresses; short A-line skirts and softly fitted jackets; silver, stretch wool, satin and crinkled synthetics; sassy tartan kilts; colorful mohair, and enough knits to keep any granny smiling.

The winter warmers came every which way -- ribbed and roomy, nubby and snug or speckled and Lurexed in jumbo cardigans, swingy dresses, pleated skirts, V-necks, vests and jackets.

"It's a good fair," said designer Corinne Cobson, whose cabled turtlenecks and sexy knit dresses came in an array of soft purples. Knits have been selling best, along with "anything dressy," she said.

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