CHICAGO — The wind was behind the spring StyleMax show at the Merchandise Mart here, as a rainbow of colors brightened the buying mood.

“I don’t ever remember a market with so much color,” said Susan McCullough, vice president of apparel for Merchandise Mart Properties, which produced the four-day show that ended its run Oct. 16 and featured some 4,000 resources. “There’s a ton of color everywhere.”

Although black continues to be a strong seller, Carolyn Andrejat, owner of Gerrene’s in Hales Corners, Wis., said her customers respond to cheery hues. She ordered capris and sweater sets from Windridge in green, mango, pink and watermelon, as well as cotton and silk Icelandic sweaters in periwinkle, blue, green and pink.

“We dabble a little bit in different colors,” she said. “We don’t just go with one.”

She also ordered tulip and A-line skirts in floral prints and solids from Marisa Christina and Susan Bristol.

Stephanie Morrissey, who, in early September, opened a women’s boutique, Stephanie’s, catering to a younger demographic in St. Paul, found many colorful and feminine styles to add to her inventory.

She picked satin and silk camisoles in pink, green and yellow from Mac & Jac, as well as tweed jackets in pinks, green and blue. A dusty rose-colored suede jacket and wide-flowing linen pants in white and natural shades from Nougat London also caught her eye.

“I bought a lot of pink and blues,” she said, noting a strong presence of white eyelet jackets and A-line skirts embellished with ribbons and bows, along with strapless cotton dresses from Robin Jordan.

Dresses in pink and blue were among the top sellers in Robin Jordan’s collection, said Shane Limbacher, who runs the Studio Elle showroom that carries Robin Jordan among its lines.

“Dresses make everyone look skinny,” he said, adding that the strapless Robin Jordan styles also contain boning along the front seams, “which pushes everything up.”

Women of all sizes, shapes and ages are embracing the more elegant, feminine spring silhouettes, tired of too-trendy or -casual looks of past seasons.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Morrissey also picked up Fifties’ hobo-style handbags and clutches in rose, lime green, turquoise and metallic copper, which she believes should coordinate nicely with her spring selections that included denim from Mavi Jeans and James Jeans.

“I just opened six weeks ago,” Morrissey said. “I’m shocked at how much people are buying.”

McCullough also noted that many vendors were receiving reorders for fall, reflecting strong early sales.