NEW YORK — While the current hobo-peasant theme is all the rage, buyers at last week’s Intermezzo show said toned-down versions of similar trends will carry over into spring 2003.

As for emerging trends, many of the 515 vendors at Intermezzo — which took place Aug. 4-6 at Pier 92 in Manhattan — offered Fifties-inspired dresses with fitted bodices and flared skirts to the knee. Often in poplin and lightweight cotton, the dresses are simple, with fashion elements coming from necklines, colors and prints, rather than ruffles and trims.

While the show was busy and attracted around 7,000 retailers, vendors said many of the buyers were still looking for late fall merchandise, rather than resort and early spring, to which the show was geared.

"Some stores say they want to buy closer to the season, which is OK for us because we produce in New York and have a quick turnaround," said Elizabeth Perrin, sales director at Cynthia Steffe.

The desire to buy closer to season resulted in some clients only perusing the merchandise, with plans to send in orders later. Despite that, Perrin said she brought a small preview of the spring 2003 collection, so stores could start to edit what they were going to buy.

As for what did sell at the show, Perrin said embroidered pieces — a trend throughout the show, along with eyelet fabrics — like Steffe’s green printed-silk, embroidered skirt for $129 and knit jersey T-shirts with lace embroidered inserts for $79, sold well.

Kim Carter, Chaiken’s sales director, said the company has decided to attend Intermezzo on a regular basis from now on.

"We see stores that couldn’t make it down to the showroom, and they’re picking up holiday because they like what they’re seeing," Carter said.

Carter also said stores were restocking on current bestsellers, such as Chaiken’s stretch corduroy pants that can be worn into spring.

Lynne Raymond, who owns junior retailer Bala Girls, said she was on the lookout for black, which sells year-round in her Marion, Pa.-based store. Also on her list: leisurewear, such as Juicy Couture’s velour zip-up sweatsuits, bohemian skirts and tank tops."If I like it, I buy it," said Samantha Linn of specialty boutique Present Thyme.

Linn, who is a buyer at the Roanoke, Va.-based retailer, said she was on the lookout for basic items that were appealing to both the mothers and daughters that shop at her store. Michael Stars, Three Dots, Bisou Bisou and Betsey Johnson were her destinations, said Linn, adding that she was still focused on holiday and not yet looking at spring.

Los Angeles-based Joomi Joolz is going more vintage and less rock ’n’ roll with its signature graphic Ts. Currently, Fifties-esque pinup girls on their $33 stretch cotton Ts are top sellers, said Denise Gachpazany, sales associate at the Lily Kate showroom, which reps the line here.

Also feeling vintage was AG Adriano Goldschmied, where director of sales Jennifer Highman said buyers are tending to buy jeans with a larger flare, such as the line’s newest styles "The Legend."

"The Legend is still slim, but it has a wider flare, with no coin pocket, embroidered rivets and a curved back yoke, which is very flattering to a woman’s behind," she said.

Annelisa Gee of specialty retailer Mandarine, which owns stores in Newport, R.I., and Gustavia, St. Barths, said she’s stepping away from peasant-looking items and heading into looser tops in fabrics that evoke a men’s wear feel using shirtings like silk and linen.

"I haven’t found dresses," Gee said. "There’s too much ruffle. Saja, which is a new line for me, has a great choice of dresses though."

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