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NEW YORK — For the scores of Saks Fifth Avenue department managers in town this week for meetings, Dana Buchman worked hard to give about 200 of them a good time Monday evening.

This story first appeared in the July 31, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

She rocked the crowd with a “salon preview” of her fall deliveries at her Seventh Avenue showroom, then bused them all to Jimmy’s Downtown on East 57th Street for drinks, dinner, and the launch of her fall 2002 image video.

“I want everyone to turn off your right brain and go to your left brain,” said Buchman, acting as master of ceremonies for the evening.

“We’re here to see beautiful clothing. You’ll see all the trends today — the romantic, the textured, the seductive.”

It was the first time the Dana Buchman division of Liz Claiborne Inc. staged the event for Saks, believed to be its biggest account, and the bridge designer used the occasion to spotlight the newest elements to her collection — outerwear and spawear.

The runway show featured lots of earth-toned, textured looks as well as black-and-white ensembles.

The 50-year-old Buchman said that as a “feminist from the Seventies, I’m proud of the fact that I design for real women. I don’t need to dress stick figures.”

“This was great,” Buchman said afterward. “I know all of the department store managers so I spend a lot of time on the road. These managers are on the front lines. Saks is a major customer for us. I’d love to do this again next year, but no one ever thinks so far ahead.”

But as with any first-time events, there’s always a glitch or two, and it happened at Jimmy’s. About two minutes into the image video, Joan Kaner, fashion director from Neiman Marcus, appeared on screen, drawing some dissent from the surprised crowd. About a minute later, it dawned on Buchman’s team that the wrong video was playing — the one for Neiman’s, not the one for Saks.

Fortunately, the embarrassment quickly melted, the right video was played, and a big round of cheers went up when Jaqui Lividini, Saks’ senior vice president of fashion merchandising and communication, popped on screen, to give the SFA point of view about Buchman. The one they wanted.

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