NEW YORK — The Designers at the JW Marriott Essex House show is intimate and unhurried. The show, which has a strong eveningwear component, targets high-end specialty stores such as Hugo Nicholson in Toronto, The Lake Forest Shop in Lake Forest, Ill., Tootsies in Houston and Paul Simon in Charlotte, N.C.
Buyers stop by suites where models are on hand to try on different looks. They schmooze with sales reps, munch on nuts and chocolate and write orders, often with specific customers in mind.
“Because Coterie is open today, it’s a little quieter,” said Julia Stone, who was showing Heather Wright’s collection. “We have had some nice orders. The collection launched two years ago.”
Wright has worked for Pauline Trigere and Arnold Scaasi. The collection, which is made in New York from Italian fabrics, uses exclusive beading with wholesale prices ranging from $600 to $2,000.
The designer works jacquards in different ways. One dress had jacquard flowers cut out and hand-applied to double mesh fabric. Another dress featured a teal, purple, black and gold jacquard fabric, while another was made from a lava-printed jacquard. Wright’s clients include Forsyth on the Upper East Side and Hartly Fashions in Westwood, N.J.
Andrew Scott, who oversees sales at Tom and Linda Platt, said the show, which ended Monday, was extremely busy. “We stopped working last night at 10:30 p.m.,” he said, adding that he was writing orders up until the last minute. Scott pulled out a white wool and Tibetan lamb coat that retails for $5,500 and said, “We sold seven of these yesterday.”
A new look from the brand for fall is a laminated lace black dress with a cropped leather jacket. Scott, who does trunk shows 41 weeks a year, said he tries to impart the Platts’ philosophy of less is more. “Life is complicated,” he said. “Dressing should be simple.”
A 10-year veteran of Essex House, Los Angeles-based Kevan Hall has a strong Hollywood following for his eveningwear. “The show has been great,” he said. “People are leaving orders.” Hall’s looks ranged from a ponte de roma day dress in spice to a tortoiseshell sequin top and long brown skirt with a center slit.
Hall, who recently expanded his signature division, last year launched Kevan Hall Sport, a golf lifestyle collection. He said he’s planning to expand into accessories and shoes. In addition, Hall sells a collection he designs for HSE24, a television home shopping network in Italy. “I’m in Rome five times a year,” he said.
For Carole and Eleanor Rosenstein, sisters who own Hugo Nicholson, Designers at Essex House has a familiarity they appreciate. “We have our vendors that we return to,” Carole said. “There’s a little bit of newness this season.”
Hugo Nicholson caters to corporate wives and socialites, mothers of the bride, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, christenings and other social occasions. “It’s a challenging economy,” said Eleanor of Canada. She was nonetheless giving an order to Zeyad Hakeem, commercial manager of Tony Ward Couture.
Tony Ward, which is based in Lebanon, is inspired by contemporary architecture with geometric patterns and lines juxtaposed against silhouettes with layers of volume. Hakeem said this is Ward’s second Essex House show and business has been good. Ward, who in 2011 launched bridal, presents couture in Paris and ready-to-wear in Moscow, where he also operates a store. There’s a second Tony Ward boutique in Lebanon. Retail prices for rtw range from $400 to $700, and couture is $600 to $20,000.