Summer’s Hot Frocks

By Joshua Greene<br><br>NEW YORK — If summertime living is supposed to be easy, then the one-step process of putting on a dress makes sense for day and evening.<br><br>The peasant dress set aside, bold prints in novelty fabrics, such as suede,...

By Joshua Greene

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

NEW YORK — If summertime living is supposed to be easy, then the one-step process of putting on a dress makes sense for day and evening.

The peasant dress set aside, bold prints in novelty fabrics, such as suede, lightweight silk and jersey have been in high demand in simple, sexy styles with an emphasis on ease-of-wear and comfort. Here’s what a group of dress vendors and retailers said about their hot sellers this summer:

“The peasant dress. A woman can wear it to work and then go out for drinks with the girls or on a date. There is not a lack of peasant looks; just about everyone did the peasant dress, including Anna Sui, Nanette Lepore, Tocca. Some are more embroidered, others are more dressy, everyone did a version of it.”

— Saks Fifth Avenue spokesman

“Our scrapbook, cotton-silk chiffon halter dress. It’s beige and brown and goes to the knee and has sequins and embroidered details. We knew right off the bat that it would be hot for us because it got a lot of editorial and celebrity interest. The dress was inspired from a vintage dress that Cynthia found. She also created three other pieces from it. The whole collection was based on the idea of souvenirs and how clothes hold memories of good times.”

— Keith Gonzales, director of sales, Cynthia Rowley

“For day, our best-selling dress was the Aloha dress. It’s an A-line Schiffli dress with a black base and white embroidery or burgundy base with black embroidery. It has a ribbon belt just under the bust and spaghetti straps. It’s just a great fit, so you can wear it for any occasion. For evening, our plunging V-neck dress in black matte jersey. The customers took so well to it that we recut it for day in a shorter version.”

— Laundry by Shelli

Segal spokeswoman

“Diane von Furstenberg’s peasant-style dresses were clearly the number one. Really, any peasant-inspired dress was a number one. And any dress in white, linen, cotton, silk, embroidered, lace, strapless or slip.”

— Stefani Greenfield,

co-owner, Scoop NYC

“Our black-and-white print was one of the strongest sellers. The floral just jumps out and has a lot of impact. The black and white deals with the sensuality of a woman’s body, yet it has a lot of swing. “

— Joel Orenstein, president and chief operating officer, Halston

“I would say we had two dresses that sold the best. One was a little top-stitch suede pleated dress, the other was an off-the-shoulder red-and-tan zebra print, silk crepe dress. I think that customers wanted something fun and cheery and they wanted novel fabrics.”

— Thomas Girty, senior account

executive, Carolina Herrera

“The black obi wrap dress with red sash. It was record-breaking sales for that dress; we couldn’t meet the demand. Tons of celebrities wore it, like Marisa Tomei, Kyra Sedgwick wore it on “Ally McBeal,” Kelly Osbourne and Diane herself. Because of demand, it’s become a new signature for Diane von Furstenberg going forward and variations will be incorporated into each season.”

— Diane von Furstenberg spokeswoman

“There were two. One was a strapless chiffon gown with a ruched bodice in an orange-and-marigold abstract print. The other was a black matte jersey halter dress with an asymmetrical hemline. Those were the two that were the top- notch performers. I think in the case of the black matte jersey, it’s easy, it’s bare, it’s the perfect knit summer dress.”