THEY’RE THE TOP

Byline: Georgia Lee

The designers capturing the DIVA Awards constitute a diverse group, but share winning characteristics such as a sense of distinctive style, attention to detail and mainline connections to trends.

ALFRED ANGELO
Bridal
The strength of the Alfred Angelo Bridal collection is its diversity and broad appeal, said Marty Boikess, vice president, sales, of the Del Ray, Fla.-based manufacturer. With 85 gowns, the line’s styling ranges from the most traditional to quite contemporary.
At an average wholesale price of $300, bridal gowns are 45 percent of the line, the balance being bridesmaids, prom and accessories. Best-selling bridal trends include gowns in color, and accents such as embroidery and hand-painted details. Popular silhouettes include sleeveless and tank necklines or strapless gowns with shawls.
Alfred Angelo introduced plus-size gowns, from 16W to 28W, four years ago, and now includes the same sizing for bridesmaids. The prom collection is 25 percent large size.

ALYCE DESIGNS
Prom/Pageant
This 33-year-old Chicago-based special occasion line has its core business in prom, a collection that comprises nearly 300 pieces with traditional and contemporary fits.
“We cover all aspects, including classic and trendy styles,” said Jean-Paul Hamm, general manager. Silhouettes include ballgowns and fishtail dresses, and evening separates such as skirts or palazzo pants with tube tops. Details are key, from bugle beads to square paillettes to plastic straps.
Fabrics range from satin faille and chiffon to iridescent organza. Spring prints are floral and dip-dyed, while solids take on new colors such as teal, sapphire, coral and watermelon. Wholesale prices are between $58 and $265. Sales volume is projected at $17 million.

BARSE & CO.
Fashion Jewelry
Best known for its colorful multistone pieces, the contemporary jewelry line Barse & Co. targets the market segment between 25 and 35 years old, with “classic, yet fashion-forward designs,” said marketing director Jenny Williams.
Based in Dallas, Tex., Barse & Co. uses local designers and overseas materials. The wholesale price range is $9.50 to $14.50. In addition to specialty stores, Barse sells to Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s and Jacobson’s.
Sterling silver is the foundation of the collection’s earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Semiprecious stone beading uses pearls, garnets and jade. With 2000 sales projected at $20 million wholesale, the company is benefiting from the recent upswing in the accessories industry.

BOB MACKIE BOUTIQUE
Special Occasion
The New York-based Bob Mackie boutique line “covers the full circle of special occasion from evening to mother of the bride,” said Abraham Talass, chief executive officer. The Bob Mackie company, which also includes the Bob Mackie B’zar lines, targets all ages with young sexy looks and more classic dresses and evening separates. In sizes 2 to 18, the boutique line includes a true misses’ fit and a more narrow misses’ fit.
Spring silhouettes include sleeveless column dresses, dresses with jackets, short cocktail dresses and ballgowns, often with intricate beading, fringe and ruffles. Separates — bustiers, jackets, novelty tops, long and short skirts, and pants — are 50 percent of the spring collection.
Sold to specialty stores and department stores — including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Lilly Rubin, Cache and Jacobson’s — the line features 50 dress styles (wholesaling from $150 to $600) and 100 separates designs (wholesaling for $39 to $229) per season. The line will expand during the next year, with bridesmaid dresses, cocktail suits and prom looks.

COSABELLA
Intimate Apparel
Designed by Ugo Campello and Tania Lambert, this Miami-based lingerie collection is inspired by multiple cultural influences, for the “American woman with a European twist.”
With Italian production, imported fabrics range from mesh to fine lace, to patterned microfiber for chemises, teddies, bras, and its best-selling thongs. With projected sales of $15 million, wholesale prices range from $6 for panties to $80 for a negligee. Cosabella is carried by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and independent specialty stores.
“We like to make lingerie beautiful, soft and trendy,” said designer Campello. “We anticipate [styles] that transfer the outerwear concept to underwear and vice versa.”

CYNTHIA HOWIE FOR MAGGY BOUTIQUE
Dresses
Cynthia Howie for Maggy Boutique, New York, was created seven years ago as a division of Maggy London International. While Maggy London includes social occasion, Maggy Boutique is day dressing, career and day-into-evening. The line, with up to 100 pieces per season, includes two-piece dressing and pants, in misses’, petite and large sizes at better prices (wholesaling from $59 to $89). The direction is increasingly updated and younger to expand its customer base.
The spring line includes one-piece halter dressing, a halter top and pants, as well as more sleeveless styles and a variety of skirt lengths. Fabric includes silk, georgette, linen and rayon, with details such as ruffles and ties.

DAVID BROOKS
Better Classics
The David Brooks division of Kellwood, with annual sales of $50 million, targets a 35-and-older customer, with related separates for casual and soft career dressing. “We’ve always focused on classics, either left or right of center,” said Hans Westland, executive vice president, merchandising and sales for the Brockton, Mass.-based firm. “Lately, we’re taking a softer, more modern approach, rather than structured, tailored dressing.”
The line, at wholesale prices from $14 to $95, is now driven by color and novelty bottoms, as well as tops and sweaters. The complete collection includes 450 pieces for spring. Bestsellers include cropped pants with novelty embellishment, paired with a variety of tops to suit a wide range of customers.

LAFAYETTE 148
Bridge
The three-year-old, New York-based Lafayette 148 has grown from 1997 annual sales of $6 million to $21 million, year-to-date. The day-to-evening, bridge sportswear line is sold in Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Jacobson’s, plus more than 250 specialty stores. Design director Edward Wilkerson, formerly a designer with Anne Klein, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, creates the line’s updated looks and photographs the promotional pieces.
For spring, misses’ and petite sizes 0 to 16 include skirts, pants, sweaters, shirts, jackets and dresses in feminine floral prints, bold patterns and bright colors; and fabrics including glazed linen, stretch wool and silk charmeuse. Wholesale prices range from $28 for a camisole to $400 for a jacket.

PIERRE URBACH
Fashion Accessories
Designer Santi Tiangratanakul created this line of embellished handbags six years ago in New York, offering non-age specific fashion items to an up-to-date customer. The line features five shapes of intricately detailed — beaded, embroidered and fringed — bags in 30 to 35 patterns per season. Wholesale prices range from $18 to $89.
For spring 2001, bags feature clean designs, sparingly beaded, embroidered and sequined. All designs have Grace Kelly bag styling and are larger than previous seasons, said Tiangratanakul. “We are doing Eighties-inspired bags with a modern glamour.”

POLECI
Contemporary
Poleci, a seven-year-old Los Angeles line, is a complete sportswear collection, with a new dress division introduced last summer. Its dresses, in 20 styles, incorporate the forward styling and detail of the sportswear line, according to Diane Levin, partner.
Distinctive fabrics, textures, treatments and special embellishment are hallmarks. The body-conscious line includes low-rise pants and stretch fabrics, with a true contemporary fit.
Poleci targets women 20 to 40 years old, said Levin. With 120 units per delivery, 10 deliveries per year, Poleci’s sportswear collection is augmented with an item collection for key pieces such as T-shirts and sweaters. Wholesale prices range from $20 to $189, with special items, such as fully lined coats up to $300. Annual sales are over $10 million, with a 30 percent increase projected for 2000.

SIGRID OLSEN
Betterwear
The Wakefield, Mass.-based Sigrid Olsen Collection, founded in 1984, was acquired by Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1999. The line caters to baby boomers with updated, classic sportswear, in true misses’ sizes 4 to 14, as well as petite and plus sizes.
Sigrid Olsen said she considers herself one of the few designers concentrating on a product that reflects and interprets fashion trends for “real” women. With a forgiving fit, the line emphasizes comfort and casual lifestyle dressing. The spring collection includes skirts, ankle-length pants, shift dresses, sweaters and jackets in orange, red, lilac, turquoise, blue, khaki and white. Textured sweaters and printed silk pants are current bestsellers.
“Every collection goes together like a painting,” said Olsen. “I choose fabrics, thinking about how colors, yarns, wovens, surface decoration and silhouettes will work together.”

TOMMY BAHAMA
Swim & Resortwear
The lifestyle apparel brand, established in 1992, is a division of apparel importer Viewpoint International, with corporate headquarters in Seattle. With origins in island-attitude men’s sportswear, Tommy Bahama now includes women’s sportswear, swimwear, footwear, neckwear, hosiery, belts and bags.
The women’s line features sleeveless dresses and camp shirts, sarongs, shorts and pants at better prices. Cropped pants are big for spring, topped with knit shell and cardigan sets and T-shirts. Novelty touches include hand-embroidered pineapples and palm trees.
The company operates four restaurant/retail compounds and eight retail locations and has four new stores scheduled to open by the end of the year. The apparel line is also sold in Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, as well as resorts, hotels, spas and pro shops.

ZELDA
Bridge
Zelda, New York, vintage bridge sportswear designed by Julie Gaynor, is reminiscent of the “the time when clothing was a work of art,” according to Liz Lukawski, vice president, sales.
Workmanship is key for these modern translations of vintage Twenties and Forties silhouettes. Details include hand-sewn buttonholes, signature facings, hidden pockets, seam and dart details, hand embroidery and beading, and antique buttons. Wholesale prices range from $100 for bottoms to $330 for a beaded jacket.
The spring collection, in misses’ sizes 2 to 16, features about 20 silhouettes — pants, skirts, blouses, dresses and jackets — in Italian and Japanese polytriacetate crepe, cotton twill, novelty silk jacquard, silk tweed and cashmere knits. Pink, red, black and navy matador-inspired pieces with beading and antique buttons are available for February delivery. Soft pastel pieces in pink, green and lavender solids and floral prints are for March-April delivery.

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