By  on October 25, 2006

LOS ANGELES — Loose and easy may best describe the looks and mood that prevailed at the five-day contemporary fashion market that ended here on Tuesday.

Encouraged by lower gas prices and the popularity of dresses, retailers wrote orders at a brisk pace.

Buyers appeared to be enticed by Sixties-era styles as evoked by Jackie O-style shift dresses, widened pant legs and lengthened waists.

"Dresses are still the thing," said Nevena Borissova, owner of Los Angeles specialty store Curve.

"Wider-legged pants will be really important for us," added Jaye Hersh, owner of the Los Angeles specialty store Intuition. For spring, Intuition reordered wide-legged looks from Lotta and GoldSign.

Reduced gas costs may leave extra cash in the pockets of young shoppers who are the prime market for the contemporary clothing featured at Brighte Companies and Designers & Agents, two New York-based trade shows that ran in conjunction with the Los Angeles market at New Mart, Cooper Design Space, California Market Center and the Gerry Building.

"When the cost of living goes down, you go on a little trip to Fred Segal, [and] you have fun," said Jake Campbell, a representative for J & Company. The Los Angeles jeans maker unveiled a pricier line called Select, which wholesales from $85 to $95 and is being scouted by better department stores.

Prices are also rising in the accessories market. "It used to be that $300 was the magic retail [price for purses]," said Richard Luna, owner of the handbag showroom Richard Luna + Associates Inc. "Now, $400 is the new $300. I am sure a year from now I will tell you $500 is the new $400."

The Sixties permeated the 300-plus booths at Designers & Agents. Cap-sleeved shift dresses in knits, silks, prints and solids were seen at Voeu, Crispin & Basilio, Anna Sui and Mel en Stel. France's April, May showed versions in solid-white organza and in silk Pop Art prints.

"It's all a mix between Sixties' ‘Dolce Vita' and French pop star Mareva Galanter," said Diane Sitbon, the designer for April, May, which received orders from Los Angeles specialty retailers Fred Segal, Madison and Lisa Kline, among others.

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