By  on January 13, 2005

NEW YORK — Despite a power outage that left a number of vendors at the Nouveau Collective trade show here in the dark, retailers continued their hunt for classic, sophisticated pieces that could easily transition from work to play.

“This show was very item-oriented,” said Joanne Feinstein, director of Nouveau Collective, a ready-to-wear and lifestyle show. The show took place Saturday through Tuesday at the Park Central Hotel here. More than 730 labels were represented, in addition to roughly 1,700 retailers from around the world.

Retailers that weren’t turned off by the sporadic lack of electricity on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the hotel were beckoned into vendors’ dim rooms by candles and flashlights. Some retailers were willing to inspect the collection by candlelight.

“I came to this show looking for pieces that could work for career women who go out directly from work,” said Vanessa Lashley, owner of Vanessa’s Boutique in Baldwin, N.Y. Lashley said flared skirts, cropped jackets and natural-hued linens were her top finds. Lashley said she was hoping to find more plus-size vendors than were exhibiting.

Lashley and a number of other retailers were buzzing about Planet, an apparel company based in Plantation, Fla. “This collection has been retailing phenomenally well for us,” said Lauren Grossman, owner of Planet. “The way our clothing is loose and drapes the body makes it work on everyone.”

Planet uses only natural fibers, such as Irish handkerchief linen, and the silhouette is Japanese-inspired and so, like a kimono, tops and skirts loosely drape the body. Chocolate and ink are used as neutrals to tone down colors like cherry, kiwi and cantaloupe, said Grossman. Wholesale prices for  the collection range from $58 to $99.

Toni Moore, owner of a boutique bearing her name in Riverside, Calif., said she has carried the Planet collection for four years. Moore said the collection’s versatility appealed to her most.

“I feel like women have too much clothing and nothing to wear,” Moore said. “Planet solves that problem.” She added that her customers, both twentysomethings and fiftysomethings, are fans of the collection.“My daughter pairs my Planet skirt with ballet slippers and white tank top,” she said, adding that she wears Planet in her shop and dresses it up with accessories and fashionable shoes.

Judy Bailey and her daughter, Brooke Nungesser, co-owners of the Soho of Sewickley boutique in Sewickley, Pa., said they were hunting for classic pieces in colors like gray and brown to pair with brighter colors like turquoise and fuchsia.

“We’re searching for neutral colors and smock dresses, too,” said Bailey, adding that her clientele consists mostly of entrepreneurial career women.

At Bentley A., buyers still keen on the poncho trend were happy to see an updated, three-way Glam Tandy poncho, which can be cinched in three places to be worn draped over shoulders, around the waist or tied to make a strapless dress to wear with pants.

“Our three-way poncho has been very popular for spring and summer,” said Shelley Fleming, a spokeswoman for the company. “It can be worn as a poncho, a tube top or a sarong.”

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