By  on February 22, 1994

NEW YORK -- Buying has been vigorous and the mood buoyant at the Fashion Coterie at The Plaza here. Retailers and exhibitors at the three-day event, which closes today, agreed it has been one of the most spirited trade shows they've attended in some time.

It appeared that spirits were boosted by the spring-like weather pervading the region over the weekend. Retailers reported that while they were looking for items for immediate or late spring delivery, fall was really the season they wanted to see. For the most part, they had bigger open-to-buys than this time last year -- when budgets were particularly cautious -- and they were leaving orders for lines they really liked.

Among the most popular trends at the show have been leather sportswear and outerwear, often distressed; knitwear, with a continued focus on cropped pieces with texture; and lighter-weight fabrics in fall lines so looks could be layered.

Most collections featured muted palettes in grays, browns, tans and, of course, black, but there were pieces of color thrown in, usually in rich, deep tones. Exhibitors did not seem to think the show had been negatively affected by the President's Day holiday. Many of the suites have been consistently busy, and vendors were pleased with the quality of the retailers they were seeing.

Among the retailers, Benny Lin, fashion director for Macy's East, was working his way in and out of suites Monday morning, looking for new contemporary resources and getting an idea of what direction vendors were offering for fall.

"I'm shopping for knits and anything textured -- tweeds, boucles, that sort of thing," he said. Later in the day, Lin said one of his favorite lines at the show was Laundry Industry, a collection out of Amsterdam, Holland, being shown at the Coterie for the first time and represented here by PhD showroom. Mary Jane Denzer, owner of a signature store in White Plains, New York, said she was at the Coterie to find item-oriented lines to carry in the store she plans to open this summer.

Denzer said she plans to relocate from her original space on East Post Road to a store about "four doors up" that is twice as large. The new store will include the European collections she normally carries, as well as leased shoe and lingerie departments. There will also be a lower-priced, more contemporary area for "our younger customers," said Denzer.

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