ESCADA MAKES BIG SPLASH IN DALLAS

Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS — Escada scored when it staged a runway show at the Dallas Museum of Art and managed to rack up $1.2 million in orders of sportswear and eveningwear in the next three days at its store here.
The champagne reception and show April 26 drew about 750 people, a record crowd that reflected participation by supporters of the museum as well as Escada fans.
That represented a 50 percent jump in attendance from previous shows that typically have been held in a tent outside the Escada boutique at Highland Park Village shopping center.
“It was a little risky because it was the first time we came out of Highland Park Village,” remarked Caryn Lerner, president of Escada. “We have always performed well in Texas, but we weren’t sure what would happen and we are thrilled.”
“I love Escada — I wear it everywhere,” extolled Janine Turner, who lives on a ranch near Dallas. “Besides, it’s the best fashion show I’ve ever seen.”
“We’re interested in everything the museum does,” said Stanley Marcus, chairman emeritus at Neiman Marcus and a retail consultant.
Guests quaffed wine and champagne in the atrium and on the wide ramp of the museum, gazing at models posed like mannequins on high platforms. They also wandered through galleries exhibiting $820,000 worth of fashion, home furnishings and jewelry that were to be auctioned later in the week at the Beaux Arts Ball. “Degas to Picasso: Painters, Sculptors and the Camera,” also was open, but few ventured in to view the art.
Bizarre shrieks could be heard from backstage as the crowd took seats in the atrium for the runway show. The sounds turned out to be the howling of three nervous spider monkeys who crouched on the shoulders of models striding the runway at the beginning of the show. Escada usually features an animal in the show, and this season’s monkeys were a reference to an India-themed group in the collection.
The show was highlighted by cashmere coats and novelty items like a tiger-striped sequined skirt, but the Texan crowd’s biggest applause erupted for a western-themed group, complete with fringe and cowboy hats and the Dixie Chicks blasting on the soundtrack. The chic cowgirl look never totally fades here, especially since western dress is the code for two major annual charity balls.
Bestsellers were nine red and six champagne reptile leather jackets at $3,150; 10 black pinstriped suits at $1,675 for the jacket, $835 for the blouse and $565 for the pants; six long pink mohair jackets at $1,565, and six rabbit fur-trimmed cowlneck sweaters at $1,475.
The store has achieved about an 8 percent to 9 percent sales gain so far this year. The company’s 15 U.S. stores are averaging slightly higher sales, Lerner noted.
“Dallas was late starting up, but we had a very strong March and April,” she added.