GLAMOUR BUOYS ORDERS AT PARIS TRADE SHOWS
Byline: Ruth Benoit
PARIS — Buyers’ desires for glamorous, feminine, non-classical clothes translated into solid order writing at the series of ready-to-wear trade shows that ended here last week.
There were five important fairs, with offerings that ranged from the new faces at Workshop and street-style designers at Carole de Bona to the more established lines showing at Tranoi, Atmosphere and Paris Sur Mode.
While organizers didn’t have a complete tally on attendance, they estimated it was up about 20 percent compared with the March shows of a year ago. Exhibitors also agreed that traffic was lively, with an international mix of stores interested in buying. There was a lot of buzz throughout the shows about the new local store, Colette, a 7,700-square-foot operation on the Rue Saint-Honore, which is mixing designer fashion, jewelry and home goods — and which took advantage of the trade shows to do some buying.
Among Americans shopping the shows, Karen Lazar, owner of the Beverly Hills boutique Acacia, noted that while most of her budget is already committed by the time she makes the trade shows here, she would not miss them.
“Scouting these shows is what first gave me the idea to open my own boutique, which is now three years old, so it’s important for me to come and see what’s going on, even if I am committed to other designers,” she said.
Lazar noted, however, she placed a small order at French-based company Paul & Joe for pants and blouses.
Showing at Tranoi, designer Julie Skarland said she had signed more orders on the first day of the event, where she showed both men’s and women’s collections, than she did the total of four days in October. The show netted her 15 new clients, most of whom were Asian.
Also at Tranoi, Jeremy J. McAlpine, sales manager for Kostas Murkudis, said that Colette had ordered from the collection. “We’re thrilled about this account; it sounds perfect for the Murkudis line,” he said.
The New York-based jewelry company Ten Thousand Things also reported it sold to Colette. In all, Tranoi housed 60 exhibitors.
At Atmosphere, Michel Klein, who had not shown at the event for the past six years, returned with a new line, Michel Klein Tricot.
“The buyers are looking for sexy pieces and are willing to pay for that. They are fed up with classic looks,” he said, pointing to a black viscose knit dress with gold-edged ruffles that he said was a bestseller. He reported writing orders with four U.S. boutiques from both the East and West Coasts and added that most of his orders were between 80 and 100 pieces.
Among the young designers at Atmosphere was Helene Zubeldia, who trained at Lanvin, and whose stand was busy throughout the show. In all, there were 39 exhibitors at the show.
Carole de Bona, whose show carries her name, increased her exhibitor roster to 33 from 23 a year ago and 25 last October. This number included four American companies: Number Nine and Product, showing apparel, and Frou by Paige Novick and Princess Fou Fou, showing accessories.
Lance Lysinger, a Paris-based commercial consultant, said he plans to organize a group of about a half-dozen New York designers to present their collections at the October session of Carole de Bona. “The idea is for European and Asian buyers, who don’t travel the U.S., to make contact with these American designers,” he said. The project will be called The New York School.
Relfecting the upbeat activity, Sibilla Pavenstedt, who showed through the four days of the Carole de Bona show, stayed on for a fifth day because she booked more appointments than expected. Pavenstedt, whose eveningwear has celebrity fans, was able to do this because she showed in a private space above the show floor.
At Paris Sur Mode, there was a total of 56 exhibitors, with a large number from the United Kingdom and Italy. Amanda Wakeley, showing here for her eighth season, said, “I feel very positive. There were a lot of good European buyers present, which is encouraging,” She said she signed orders from approximately 10 new clients, from the Middle East, Europe and the U.S.
At the Workshop, organizer Hortensia de Hutten noted, “The designers showing here are not looking for huge orders. For the most part, they are not capable of large production, but the idea is to make contact with buyers and build a business relationship.” Japanese and American buyers were said to make up 55 percent of the estimated 3,000 buyers at the show.
Young designer Cedric Huet, whose company Sperm Fish Corp. is now in its fourth collection, said, “This is the first time I’ve showed at Workshop. I’ve made some contacts, but have not written any orders so far.” He showed fiberglass pants, jacket, coat, skirts and a shirt and continued his quilted pieces with an embroidered Sperm Fish logo.
British designer Abe Hamilton, also at Workshop, was upbeat. “I’ve sold to Japanese clients and made some great contacts. I’ve seen buyers from France, Sweden, Greece and Turkey — these buyers don’t necessarily travel to England. That’s why I show here in Paris.”
Throughout the fairs, strong trends included:
Lace dresses, as seen at Alexandra des Gastines and Whistles.
Knits for both day and evening, seen at Angela Missoni, Julie Skarland and Michel Klein Tricot.
Strong hues in red, orange and greens, getting a play in such collections as Alexandra des Gastines, Whistles and Angela Missoni.