By  on September 7, 1994

DALLAS -- The trend to more fitted clothes found a lot of fans at the holiday and cruise market at the International Apparel Mart here.

Gently curving jackets, nipped waistlines and body-conscious dresses -- including spare shifts -- inspired much of the business that was written in showrooms. Holiday evening separates and bright jewel and sherbet tones were other attention-getters.

A swimwear show staged by the Southwest Swim Association on the mart's second floor also drew buyers seeking resort swimsuits and coverups.

Despite buyers' excitement over showroom offerings and reports of increased bookings, traffic had the typically thin look of an August market. Multiple-line sales representatives rated traffic as generally even to ahead 10 percent.

The five-day show ran through Aug. 23.

"Showroom sales are up about 40 percent over last year, but traffic was flat," said Denise Berman, who, with her husband, Jay, owns a multiple-line showroom here. "Stores are having good early response to fall, and trunk-show bookings have them in a good mood. For resort and early spring, color and soft fabrications are key."

Bill Dodson, president of better to designer women's specialty store Lilly Dodson, here, said color was the selling point in the resort collections he viewed.

"Resort is very important at Lilly Dodson because it offers more color than most spring collections," Dodson explained. "Resort offers longevity as well. It arrives early and can be worn for the cruise and into spring. It's a classification that fits the bill."

Dodson looked at casual, colorful resort sportswear from Molto Fino, Canvas Backs and Stephanie by Suzelle, among others.

"Body-conscious silhouettes and waistlines are going to be strong spring signatures," said Dodson. "The Southwest customer loves that look."

He shopped fitted suits from Scaasi Dress, Teri Jon Suits by Rickie Freeman and Julie and Leonard, where he liked the suits with dolman sleeves, broad shoulders and tapered waists.

Dodson typically takes paper home and mails it in later after working choices against his budget, which was up 5 percent for the market.

"It's prudent to play it close to the belt and then go in and buy more as we see trends develop," he said.Finding holiday social occasion silhouettes and fall items like suede bottoms and novelty tops, all for immediate delivery, was the mission of Charles Skibell, owner of Skibell's, Lubbock, Tex., a three-unit women's specialty chain.

With a budget fattened 15 percent, Skibell shopped Sully Bonnelly's black and colorful evening separates, including fitted tops over full bottoms, some cut from silk chiffon and silk taffeta, and Karen Lawrence's long jacket dresses with ribbon lace detail.

Nan Napier, owner of Tres Mariposas, El Paso, Tex., a women's better-to-designer store, came to Dallas fresh from the designer resort market in New York.

She scouted for traditional sportswear, including khaki, russet and gold Moroccan-influenced looks from Cambridge Dry Goods and conservative styles from Alexander Campbell, as well as more contemporary sportswear from David Dart.

Slim and short dresses with back interest by Nicole Miller also got Napier's attention.

Napier, whose budget was up about 13 percent, said she typically studies her potential buy in her hotel room and tries to leave commitments before the end of the market.

"Early fall business has been really strong," she explained. "People seem upbeat."

Joy Roberts, the owner of Roberts, Laurel, Miss., a women's specialty store, said the Dallas market was a mainstay in her market sojourns because of the variety and said this show was no exception.

Her shopping itinerary listed showrooms featuring fall and holiday fill-ins like festive and classic sweaters, holiday eveningwear and resort sportswear and dresses.

With a flat budget designed to keep inventories lean, Roberts looked at dressy wool crepe suits edged in fur from Noviello Bloom, subdued evening separates from Chetta B and bright linen and silk day dresses from Scaasi Dress and Constance Saunders.

Julieta de Terrazas, owner of Boga Regalos/Fasses, located in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico, said: "I've been shopping here about three years, and the offerings are good for my customers."

Though she came with a flat budget because of the uncertainty that surrounded the recent Mexican national elections, de Terrazas planned to leave orders for holiday evening and other social occasion silhouettes from Sully Bonnelly, bright resort sportswear from Platinum and casual lightweight day dresses from DW3.

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