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Contemporary Push in Dallas

Buyers will find new showrooms and a bigger selection of junior clothes at FashionCenterDallas.

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WWDStyle issue 01/19/2011

Buyers will find five new contemporary and accessories showrooms and a bigger selection of junior contemporary clothes at FashionCenterDallas when it hosts a spring and summer market, Jan. 27 to 30, at the World Trade Center.

“Our contemporary neighborhood is 98 percent leased,” noted Stephanie Cole, vice president of apparel leasing at the Dallas Market Center Co., which operates the venue. “And young contemporary temporary exhibits have expanded more than 30 percent compared to 2009, and we don’t see that slowing down.”

Further, Cole hopes to attract additional bridge resources with a new shared showroom called Salon that will open in March. Located on the 15th floor near the rear skylights, it is designed to house six collections.

Tops, dresses, margin builders and brands that don’t wind up at discounters will continue to be priorities for retailers, predicted sales agents. They expect business to focus on deliveries from February through May, though some showrooms will be ready for fall.

“The January show should be good,” said Bill Guice, who owns the Tableau accessories showroom. “People were very conservative last fall, and their stock levels should be low, and they have to refill the wagons.”

Seven Threads showroom will make its debut in room 15014 in the contemporary area known as District 15. Veteran sales rep Terry Harner founded the company with her daughter, Kaleigh Bergstrom, and longtime employee Christina Runnels. Harner left the showroom she started with her husband, Scott Harner & Associates.

“We were together doing business for 28 years,” said Terry Harner, explaining that the couple is getting divorced. “But I love this business too much to let it go, so that’s why I started my own showroom.”

Harner will show Big Star premium denim for men and women, which had been at Scott Harner. She’s also introducing two T-shirt lines by Evelyn Riddle, the former designer of Skinny Minnie tops: Libertalia has a contemporary vibe and wholesales from $7 to $12; Gypsy Daisy is the same price but has a younger look. Seven Threads will also represent Willow Creek Designs Jewelry, a sterling collection with inspirational and faith-based inscriptions.

New to the 15th floor atrium is the Pam Martin & Co. showroom, which moved from Fashion Industry Gallery. Martin said she couldn’t resist the glass-walled corner room 15256 because of its prime location and layout. It was previously leased to Leon Max, which closed its Dallas office.

Martin has long represented tops and dresses by Bordeaux, Creme Fraiche, Weston Wear, Zola, Central Park West and Shae, plus Isabella Fiore handbags. Next week she’ll also introduce edgy knit tops wholesaling from $30 to $45 by Pete.

“A lot of people need to fill in spring, and the fourth quarter was better than they thought it was going to be,” she observed. “Right now my stores are buying tops 9-to-1 over bottoms.”

Other District 15 showrooms will sport renovations, including The Block, Leon & Associates and Samax Inc.

On the 13th floor, Jayden Star accessories from New York will introduce upscale fashion jewelry collections in room 13564, formerly occupied by The Silver Tribe, which is moving to a bigger space. Jayden Star represents seven lines from Italy, including 1AR by UnoAerre, Giorgio Martello, Rena Luxx, Madame Mystique, Margherita Buonanno and I. Bijoux Di Simonetta, plus Anat Collection Israel.

Meanwhile, The Silver Tribe, owned by Jayshree Dalal, has expanded into the atrium space 13682 previously held by Kathy Flahavin & Associates, which closed after many years in business. Dalal has an established clientele for antique Indian fine jewelry with royal and tribal provenances. She also offers contemporary pieces inspired by Indian artistry and crafted in silver with semiprecious stones.

Total Design Jewelry by Jeff Lieb, a sculptural collection, has leased showroom 13892. Lieb’s lightweight, curlicue pieces are made of a lead-free aluminum and resin that he developed. Lieb is based in Highland Park, Ill.

Plenty of sparkle is in store at Crystals on Fire in 13810, a local manufacturer that styles crystal and semiprecious jewelry, plus pavé crystal shoes and cell phone cases. Designed by Stephanie Berman, the two-year-old company is based in nearby Plano, Texas, where it has a store at the Shops at Willow Bend mall.

Another growing accessories business is Seasonal Whispers, a New York-based company that more than doubled its showroom space to 1,700 square feet on the atrium in room 13727. Seasonal Whispers offers an extensive line of trendy crystal, pearl and chain fashion jewelry and hair accessories. Esther Lixenberg and Yafit Goldfarb, the mother-daughter team behind the brand, will share the space with handbags and accessories by Leaders in Leather.

The Scene’s temporary show on the 13th floor will showcase Mitta by Vicki Audette, a trendy line of fingerless gloves made of repurposed sweaters and fabrics so that each pair is unique. In addition, Virgins, Saints, & Angels jewelry inspired by religious icons will show for the first time at Scene.

“I am trying to focus on customer service and the best way to see as many of our existing clients as we can,” said Cheryl Finnegan, designer.

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