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Published: Thursday, 11/2/2000

Escada sticking with winning ways for spring 2001

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sometimes it's best not to tamper with success.

Escada's Spring 2001 line looks a lot like its Fall 2000 collection. Magenta, orange, and black continue to provide the line with strong, striking visuals, while lavenders, blues, greens, whites, and beige tones lend it a ladylike softness.

The fabrics - leather, cashmere, cotton, silk, summer-weight wool, and the occasional synthetic - feel soft, supple, and sensuous. Silhouettes continue to hug the body and highlight what's feminine about a woman's form.

That said, the clothes do not come cheap. A pair of mint-green beaded trousers sells for $3,900. A black knee-length coat with a gray pinstripe retails for $1,445. A mid-calf-length black skirt in a rayon/cotton blend costs $595. The least expensive items in the collection, stretch denim jeans, retail for more than $300.

In other words, it's business as usual for the German couture house - and Toledo's wealthy women adore the designer line.

Sweet suit has classic charm. Sweet suit has classic charm.
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“Escada is, for this store, our No. 2 seller” among the designer collections, said Jill Wilson, Jacobson's associate buyer for designer clothes. (No. 1 is St. John Knits, with Giorgio Armani's Le Collezioni also a strong performer.) “Escada is one of our top vendors. The collection pretty much sells itself.”

A couple of elements that will look familiar to regular Escada customers include extensive, intricate beading on almost every type of garment, from slacks to a delicate, cream-colored lace coat; and floral designs, particularly those featuring roses.

And, of course, the colors.

“The colors for fall performed very well,” said Sharon Berman, a senior account executive for Escada. “The trend now is color, and we're staying with it.”

However, a few things have changed. Bra tops made their debut with a little - and we do mean little - silk magenta number. One customer paired it with a laser-cut black leather bolero jacket with a magenta silk underlay (price: $4,650). She wanted to match the tops with black slacks, but alas, couldn't find a pair in her size - a zero.

Hot pants also appeared in several colors. The body-baring styles are part of Escada's attempt to appeal to younger women, Ms. Berman said. And on a more subtle level, jackets and blouses, which were already fairly fitted for fall, are even more so for spring. That's another change Escada hopes will appeal to the young and lithe.

In case you're wondering why any fashion house would deliver its collections so far in advance of the seasons in which people would actually wear the garments, well, that's the Escada way.

“That's what our stores expect from us,” Ms. Berman said. “Escada is trying to push forward by getting the merchandise in the stores first. We're constantly shipping to the stores.”

By the way, Escada isn't the only clothing maker playing with color, clean lines, stretch denim, and short shorts for spring. VF Jeanswear Inc., which manufactures Wrangler, Rider, Gitano, Chic, and Brittania jeans, announced its upcoming spring line will also incorporate those elements.



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