By  on August 9, 2007

NEW YORK — Contemporary designers who showed at Designers & Agents cast away the somber color palettes and tailored looks synonymous with current fall collections in place of eye-popping brights, jewel-toned tops and dresses and eco-friendly designs.

D&A ended its three-day run at the Starrett-Lehigh Center on Monday. The exhibition had 56 booths, a 16 percent increase from last August, and 1,120 stores visiting, a 29 percent jump, according to Barbara Kramer and Ed Mandelbaum, co-producers of the exhibition.

For the spring 2008 show next month, D&A will undergo an expansion with a second location for exhibitors, and new partnerships with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Trade Council of Denmark.

Those who thought dresses were a trend of yore were proven wrong at this D&A. The resort season is rife with frocks in an assortment of silhouettes and rich, sultry colors — much to the delight of vendors and buyers.

"Dresses are very strong now, it's so happening," said Kramer. "I see it in the stores changing quite a bit. It's getting a little more feminine and sophisticated, and even though there is some novelty, it's more about the fabrics and the workmanship. It's a little fresher."

Barbara Sued and Sara Bibi, owners of Breeze in Brooklyn, N.Y., purchased a bubble dress and asymmetrical dress from Maggie Ward, as well as tunics and dresses from Charlotte Ronson.

Ann Gitter, owner of Knit Wit, a five-unit chain throughout southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, also bought an assortment of T-shirts and dresses from Maggie Ward, as well as basic T-shirts and tanks from Christina Lehr and skirts and dresses with a resort feel from Coolchange.

Lori Friedman, owner of Great Stuff, a five-unit contemporary retailer throughout New York's Westchester County and Connecticut, placed orders at Maggie Ward, Rory Beca and Christina Lehr. Friedman caters to young mothers in towns such as Greenwich, Conn., and Rye and Chappaqua, N.Y. "My customer has just gotten out of maternity clothes," she said. "They are looking for something to show the figures off that they work so hard on.

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