Imitation of Christ is one of the collections invited to participate in The Mezzanine section.

NEW YORK — A trade show is only as cool as its exhibitors, and this season the Fashion Coterie is upping the ante. In a first-ever move, ENK International has invited roughly 30 collections to be part of The Mezzanine, which is expected to be...

NEW YORK — A trade show is only as cool as its exhibitors, and this season the Fashion Coterie is upping the ante. In a first-ever move, ENK International has invited roughly 30 collections to be part of The Mezzanine, which is expected to be one of the most-coveted spots in the show.

“There are some designers who need to show in a more private environment,” said Elyse Kroll, president and founder of the Fashion Coterie. “Some designers don’t want to be with the masses. They don’t want to be in the midst of the mayhem. They want the sales, but they want to achieve them in a different way.”

The Mezzanine section will be located on Piers 90 and 92. “It’s plopped down in the middle of our contemporary piers, but it’ll be kind of romantic and private up there,” Kroll said of the section.

Some of the featured collections include Daryl K, Heatherette, Imitation of Christ, Burning Torch and Frost French.

“We think everyone will look pretty chic up there,” she said.

Karyn Craven, designer of the Los Angeles-based contemporary collection Burning Torch, has been a Coterie attendee since 2000, but was pleased when Kroll invited her to take part in The Mezzanine section.

“We’re not a crank-it-out kind of company,” Craven said. “It’s really nice that they’re making it an environment for people to see the collection. We have a lot of details on our garments, and when people can actually see them, like they’ll be able to at The Mezzanine, they’re like ‘Wow.’ ”

The fall Burning Torch collection contrasts heavy shades with lighter colors. “We’re doing two color palettes: the first is smoky with indigo and lavender and the second includes very soft neutrals.” The wholesale price range of the collection is between $40 and $400.

For Kroll, The Mezzanine section pays homage to the Coterie of the past. “When I started in 1986, I started with just 32 designers,” she said. “In a way, this is me returning to my roots.”

This story first appeared in the February 16, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.