View Slideshow

A slew of new labels is coming to town for the fall market, March 27 to 30, drawing retailers to FashionCenterDallas.

This story first appeared in the March 13, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Hotel bookings are up, and we expect a healthy March market,” said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of Dallas Market Center, the parent of FCD, noting the March market provides a unique opportunity for buyers to source across apparel, accessories, gift and home. “Meanwhile, the second half of the year is more likely to improve, according to economists, and retailers tell us they are keeping focused on new merchandise for a new selling season.”

Though retail business is tough, traffic in Dallas is expected to rise because many fall collections weren’t complete in time for the Coterie and MAGIC shows a month ago and buyers want to see them, said Marie Conners Lavigne, senior director of marketing at DMC.

“We’re finding prospecting [retailers] much easier,” she said. “We’re calling Michigan and other areas and they’re saying, ‘Yeah, we’d love to come to Dallas.'”

Dozens of labels new to the Dallas market will be introduced in permanent showrooms as well as the juried Scene show, which will have several glam new resources among its 91 exhibitors.

If it all seems overwhelming, buyers can catch the season’s highlights at presentations by Gregor Simmons Ltd. “It’s all about quiet, sexy, elegant,” said Simmons, whose buying office tracks contemporary, bridge, designer and accessory trends. “Knits rule with lots of attention to ponte knits and lots of attention to price point.”

FCD also will stage “Fashion Attack” runway shows with nibbles and drinks Friday evening in the front and back atriums of the 13th and 15th floors.

The highest-profile label making its Dallas debut is House of Deréon, the feminine cocktail collection by Beyoncé Knowles and her dressmaker mom, Tina.

“I think she is right on target for our customer base in the South,” said Brad Hughes, who will show House of Deréon at his namesake showroom. “It’s very visual — right on trend with color, print and embellishment — and it’s all about the body and the girl who wants to stand out. What also impressed me was the price point of $139 to $269 wholesale, so that’s the magic $280 to $650 retail, which is right where our customers want to be.”

Fortune Denim, a year-old local denim company that’s gained a following with Fergie and other celebrities, will open a corporate showroom in the District 15 contemporary area.

Inspired by her Chinese ancestry, founder Karen Noseff left law school to start the premium jeans company, giving it the twist of positive statements stitched in metallic thread onto interior satin waistbands.

New fall styles include boot- cut jeans with good-luck Chinese characters etched by laser onto the back pockets. The company also is introducing knit dresses, T-shirts and hoodies.

Other newcomers include:

– Dream on by Juan Carlos Pinera: Sexy silk cocktail dresses, some with crinoline skirts, and gowns, at Scene.

– Ella Brown Couture: Body-conscious and Grecian-inspired eveningwear plus exotic skin evening bags, at Scene.

– Jessica Cushman: Whimsically inscribed resin bangles seen on Paris Hilton and other celebs plus jeweled mammoth tusk bangles and other baubles, at Scene.

– Tao Freedom: Aloe-infused, yoga-inspired knitwear designed to soften skin at moxiefashions.