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PARIS — Romantic and ethnic looks were recurring themes at the Eclat de Mode/Bijorhca and Premiere Classe accessories shows that wound up Sept. 2 at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center here. But the mix of fall 2002 and spring 2003 collections confounded some retailers.
“Things are too diversified here,” said Gisela Eichler, an accessories buyer for Lolita Lempicka and LM Lulu in Saint-Tropez. “We are finding it really hard to get a feel for what we want and what we should expect from next season,” added her colleague Christine Chapas.
Josephine Bui, export manager for French exhibitor Ventilo at Premiere Classe, also found that the mix of seasons affected business. “I’m afraid it is a bit confusing for the buyers,” she said. “We’re seeing many clients who are looking for [immediates].” Ventilo showcased spring collections for yearend delivery.
At Eclat de Mode, most buyers were also seeking immediates. The show’s organizers said 7,811 professional buyers visited the four-day salon, an increase of 15.3 percent, compared with September 2001. A breakdown of attendee numbers showed that 65 percent of visitors were French, with the remaining 35 percent coming from 95 different countries. The salon hosted stands for 370 companies.
Buyers at Premiere Classe held back on orders, opting to peruse this session’s offerings and make decisions at a larger session to be held at the end of the ready-to-wear collections, Oct. 10-13, following the Paris runway collections, Oct. 3-11.
Still, vendors expressed positive outlooks for the coming season and retailers cited healthy budgets in comparison to the past few seasons.
Bergona Relats, owner of Aita, a boutique in Barcelona, came to Eclat de Mode to scope out trends and make solid purchases on the spot from several vendors. “I’m optimistic about this year,” she said, browsing through racks of textured scarves and patchwork bags. “I came all this way — I’m buying here.”
Parisian jewelry designer Gavilane, who goes by only one name, agreed.
“It’s now or never,” she said. “Clients are here and they are buying.”
Gavilane cited strong sales, led by such jewelry items as elaborate gothic necklaces and glass beaded chokers accented with feathers from the high-end of the collection, with wholesale prices in the $200 to $500 range.
Indeed, money did not appear to be a big concern. Many retailers said they were willing to pay more to get what they wanted: original designs.
“I am looking for special pieces with a pointed difference —no basics,” said Lucy Benzecny, owner of British boutiques The West Village.
“We’re looking for things that no one else has, outrageous stuff,” said Mary Sue Morris, who owns boutiques in Guatemala and Mexico, placing orders for bags and jewelry with wooden and coconut husk beads, feathers and shells. “Our budget is significantly up over the past few years and we feel confident.”