By  on September 10, 2005

NEW YORK — Change is in the air and retailers have gotten a whiff of it.

After a season of wall-to-wall prairie skirts, bohemian tunics and frilly blouses, fashion executives are getting weary of whimsy. They're ready for a new approach.

A few have invoked the "M" word, but some are afraid to mention minimalism lest it bring back memories of the severe fashions of the mid- to late-Nineties, where lines were strict and embellishment was scarce. Retailers expect to see cleaned-up silhouettes, soft color palettes and a judicious use of beading and embroidery. They also hope to find something they've never seen before that can add a new phrase to fashion's vocabulary.

Before they headed to the shows, WWD asked some store executives about their hopes and fears for spring.

Jeffrey Kalinsky, owner Jeffrey New York, and director of merchandising, Nordstrom.

What I'd like to see: Probably what's not on my shopping list. I always have high hopes of finding new things that are inspirational unto themselves.

People have been buzzing about: Brian Reyes. I've definitely heard a lot of buzz about his show.

Changes I'm anticipating: I'm going to need some skirts with volume and pencil skirts. The prairie skirt has legs, especially in the luxury market if done differently than the street versions. The tunic also has legs, but it has to be new. I don't think they can depend on the embellishment of last season.

Designers I'm watching this season: I love all the American designers we carry: Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler, Thakoon, Behnaz Sarafpour, Libertine and Project Alabama.

Open-to-buy: Very open. We had a great spring and fall has started really strong. I'm going in with a very optimistic point of view.

Scott Tepper, fashion director and divisional merchandise manager of apparel, accessories, and lingerie, Henri Bendel.

People have been buzzing about: There is tremendous buzz around Gwen Stefani's first runway show for L.A.M.B. The line is on fire for us, and we are excited to see what level she will take it to next. Heatherette's launch last month in the store was literally a mob scene. As this is only their second collection, it should continue to be an interesting evolution.

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