NEW YORK — After a thin retail turnout at February’s early fall editions of two ready-to-wear hotel shows here — Designers at the Essex House and American International Designers at the Waldorf Astoria — retailers turned up in full force last week for the fall II shows that wind down at the end of this week.

Buyers were hunting for four-ply silk and silk chiffon special occasion dresses in such muted colors as claret and custard.

Designers at the two shows predicted that sales increases will be up by 30 percent, compared with last year’s results, attributing the boost to a more optimistic outlook on the economy and the demand for new looks in fabrics and style.

“Last April, we were just flooded with lookers,” said Michael Shore, owner of Helga, based in Los Angeles, and president of the Designers at the Essex House, which winds up its 14-day stand on April 25. “This time, we’re getting a lot of serious buyers and people are leaving paper. I think people are less skittish about the economy.”

Helga was one of 26 designers showcased at the Essex House. Thirteen others showed at the American Designers at the Waldorf-Astoria, which ends its 15-day engagement on April 24.

Deborah Alexander, owner of a designer boutique called Alex Jones, based in Lake Charles, La., noted that her open-to-buy was up by 10 percent, stimulated by gains in her spring business.

“People are coming out to the store and buying now,” she said.”I think the warmer weather has had a positive effect on the consumer.” “I’m looking for good-looking day-into-evening dresses, in particular, chocolate brown,” said Alexander, as she was fingering wool crepe dresses by Helga.

“Last year, the fashion shown at the hotel shows was a little dull, partly because there wasn’t any real direction in the industry, and people were playing it safe,” noted Mary Jane Denzer, owner of the boutique based in White Plains, N.Y., that bears her name. “This time, I saw a lot more wearable dresses, in such fabrics as silk chiffon.”

Among her purchases were special occasion dresses from Lili Samii, based in San Francisco, and Sansappelle of Chicago, both of which were displaying their designs at the Essex.

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