By  on November 10, 2004

NEW YORK — Paris-based designer Michel Klein took it into his own hands to introduce Americans to his upscale signature label by hosting his first trunk show in the U.S. last week at Bergdorf Goodman here.

With a video monitor playing his most recent runway show, the affable Klein spent the better part of Nov. 2 and 3 on the store’s third floor, greeting customers and showing them the intricacies of the Cher by Michel Klein collection. Had he not been there, they might not necessarily have gone for a $3,400 navy skirt with coral beading or a $630 hand-painted floral skirt with beading and embroidery.

“The U.S. is the only market for luxury. This is where women understand what luxury is all about,” Klein said.

Even so, Klein said he was surprised that his most stylish and more expensive items were the first to go at Bergdorf’s. “That is quite exciting. That means fashion can sell,” he said. “Before, everyone was telling me to do straight skirts.”

Fortunately, Klein did not listen. Shoppers also liked a $1,490 silk satin dress with a hand-embroidered overlay; $2,400 cashmere blazers; $3,400 coats, and a $2,000 cashmere and tweed jacket with velvet hand-painted appliqué with a $1,000 skirt.

Robert Burke, vice president and senior fashion director at Bergdorf’s, said “We had a great response. The collection has a beautiful cut and it’s very well made, with beautiful embroidery and ornamentation. He knows how to cut clothes for a women’s body and there’s a timelessness to his designs.”

“This is our first time in the U.S. and yesterday was Election Day. Everything was against us, but it has worked out well,” Klein said with a smile.

By the end of the first day, Klein said he exceeded projected sales for the two-day trunk show by 25 percent, and sold a total of 60 units. Buoyed by the Bergdorf performance, the designer said he is trying to line up trunk shows at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, Maxfield in Los Angeles and Tootsie’s in Dallas.

On another front, he said he plans to unveil a more affordable collection, retailing from $100 to $350, in the U.S. for the fall ’05 season. No further details were available.

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