By  on February 7, 1994

NEW YORK -- Whether from large specialty stores or small boutiques, retailers will be heading to the Fashion Coterie later this month to get a jump on fall, a focus on direction and to look for fresh new talent.

They already have some clear ideas as to what they expect for fall. They're talking about:

  • Continued interest in soft dressing generally, although some say they would like to see more variety.

  • More structured silhouettes in suits, which could be one exception to the soft, drapy trend.

  • Another round of popularity for short skirts.
Buyers will be looking to the Coterie for new ideas as well, and to help confirm direction before heading off to see the collections in Europe.

The Coterie, produced by ENK Productions, will take place Feb. 20-22 at the Plaza Hotel. It will feature 270 collections from designers in Belgium, Holland, Ireland, France, Italy, Great Britain, Finland, Canada and the U.S.

Buyers and vendors alike note that the recent spate of bad weather has soured business for the start of the year, but at the same time the usual enthusiasm that comes with the start of a new season is expected to give the show a lift.

"I always like the Coterie," said Toby Lerner, an owner at Toby Lerner in Philadelphia. "It gives me a preview as to what some of the American collections are all about. I get ideas for direction, although it's a bit early for me to write orders." Lerner said the show gives her a sense of things before going to Europe. She usually finds items at the Coterie, she noted, while she reserves Europe to shop for collections.

"I need both for a good mix in the store," she said.

For fall, Lerner said she is hoping to find more variety than she saw at the spring show.

"Spring seemed so short and drapy," she said. "I need things for real women."

That means structured and unstructured merchandise that is both short and long. Lerner said she was also hoping to find special occasion dressing.

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