Diversity Rules N.Y. Hotel Shows

NEW YORK — The latest round of hotel trade shows in New York covered a wide range of apparel categories and price points. There were elaborately beaded gowns in one room and minimal gowns in matte jersey in the next; daytime suits in wool blends...

NEW YORK — The latest round of hotel trade shows in New York covered a wide range of apparel categories and price points. There were elaborately beaded gowns in one room and minimal gowns in matte jersey in the next; daytime suits in wool blends next to mother-of-the-bride suits in satin, and slinky cocktail dresses hanging with eveningwear separates.

This story first appeared in the March 4, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

American International Designers at the Waldorf-Astoria took place Feb. 22-26. The show is best known for its elaborate eveningwear from designers such as San Carlin, Michael Casey, Pesavento and Peter Langner. However, London-based newcomer Eavis & Brown gave the show some diversity with her folkloric-type gowns and bustiers. Eavis & Brown wholesales for $225 to $2,000.

But that didn’t mean the show’s mainstays didn’t still have some tricks up their beaded sleeves. San Carlin’s silk chiffon paisley gown for $1,365 was an eye-catcher and was an example that the design duo knows when to offer some less-constructed styles.

Langner strolled further away from his bridal roots by designing more evening separates, such as a Murano-beaded evening jacket for $3,300 wholesale. The red satin strapless gown with beaded whipstitch trim was also a hot item at $2,040. While strapless is tough for this market, Langner offered a matching red satin bolero jacket for the more discreet crowd.

Langner said he is looking to double his U.S. eveningwear business this year — it currently represents about $120,000 and is sold in five stores — by opening a showroom to house the eveningwear and bridal collections by the end of the month in time for bridal market.

Separates continue to play an important role in the eveningwear category and were on hand at Lady Vivienne and Arend. Meanwhile, daytime looks for MOB and Ladies Who Lunch were well represented at Lourdes Chavez and Abigail Kate.

Chicago-based resource Mark Heister — who showed at Designers at the Essex House Feb. 22-27 — is better known for his dressy daytime looks, but is venturing into beaded eveningwear separates, according to vice president Linda Heister. Strong examples of this look include black pants at $350 wholesale, a black jacket at $470 and an oyster beaded jacket at $620.

Heister’s bell-sleeved tunic with a button shoulder and fancy collar was a strong look for day at $390 in a gray cashmere-wool blend and $450 in the charcoal angora-cashmere blend.

At Kevan Hall, the designer’s matte jersey gowns continue to be a staple of the collection since their entry price at $550 wholesale is popular among buyers.

At Atelier and Pacific Designer Collection, which were held together at the Rihga Royal Hotel Feb. 22-24, an increased marketing push on behalf of Atelier show management attracted several new vendors.

Since the show takes place on several floors of the hotel, buyer circulation has been a problem in the past. To address it Atelier show director Susan Summa put the check-in on one floor and the show office on another and offered goodie bags to ensure buyers would make it to the lowest floor. There was also the addition of a style suite that addressed trends and featured looks from several vendors. A slicker image for Atelier was also evident in new graphics found on preshow mailers, press material and its Web site.

Overall, trends at these two shows are difficult to grasp as many of the designers consider themselves artists working with a cloth medium. They don’t try to forecast or chase trends, such as what the latest skirt length is or what the next hot color will be.

Highlights at the show, however, included a handprinted, lime green satin kimono from East Hampton, N.Y.-based designer Amy Zerner, Austrian boiled-wool coats from Provincetown, Mass.-based designer Mary Deangelis starting at $169 wholesale; New York-based Susan Unger’s silk chiffon poncho and fur-trimmed wrap coat at $120 and $760, respectively, and Harding Design Studio’s silk evening jackets.

Meanwhile the 350 vendors at Nouveau Collective — held at the Park Central Hotel Feb. 22-25 — took up seven full floors, the hotel mezzanine, as well as the ballroom. While the floors were grouped by sector — eveningwear, California brands and sportswear, for example — which helped to steer buyers in the right direction, the range of merchandise was wide and not always well edited.

“We saw everything and we got a little bit out of the shows we saw, even though it was exhausting,” said Marsha Posner, vice president of JP International Fashion, a New York buying office. “However, I wish some of the shows had a more definitive viewpoint of what type of stores they would like to attract.”