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MAN, OH, MAN! ATLANTA GIFT FAIR APPEALS TO MASCULINE TASTES AND MILLENNIUM MADNESS.

ATLANTA-Men and the millennium were two of the main topics on the minds of buyers and sellers at the Atlanta market here last week, and tabletop and gifts reflected these trends.

"We are definitely thinking about our customers and what their spouses or partners would like," said Norma Autry, buyer for Morgan's Flowers & Gifts in Monroe, N.C. She called the Pine Bough pattern from Terrafirma at the Mila Brown International showroom "fabulous" and likened its solid weight and muted colors to some of the rugged Ralph Lauren looks. "It's rustic yet elegant," she said.

Ellen Evans, designer for Terrafirma, described the pattern as "gutsy and oversized" and said it had done very well in Atlanta. "It's an interesting phenomenon at the bridal registries. Often now, men are being allowed to pick the everyday china, and they seem very attracted to this pattern." The size of the mug handles, for example, will accommodate a man's hand, she said.

Buyers Denise Knox and Victoria Hall of The Private Gallery in Fairhope, Ala., also were on the lookout for rustic looks, knowing that "men enjoy shopping, too, so we make an effort to cater to them as well," said Knox.

At the Waterford and Wedgwood showroom, a new line of fine bone china called Grand Gourmet was hailed as "professional china for the home gourmet."

The oversized look borrowed from hotelware would certainly allow for man-sized portions and presentations, said Annette Bossler, marketing logistics director for Wedgwood.

Products geared toward home entertaining, whether by male gourmets or busy professional women, were high on the list of Janice Kribbs, buyer for Ben Tippens of Camp Hill, Penn. "At-home items with a big, spare look are great for entertaining, especially with the advent of the big-screen TV. Both men and women are looking to have relaxing times with guests over for dinner, and nothing is fussy," she said.

Jeffrey Surles, owner of Jeffrey's Florist and Interiors in Lillington, N.C., agreed. "We're looking for a clean look -- no fussy stuff," he said, eyeing one of several large, simple vases at Abigails' showroom. "With those lines and oversized look, all a man has to do is buy a tall bunch of flowers, stick them in the vase and be ready," he said. "Everybody wants easy, convenient entertaining at home these days," he added.

The large-scale accessories at Abigails also appealed to buyers from Arizona: Penny Galarneau and Mickey Ruffenacht of The Conservatory in Paradise Valley. "We're looking for big things," said Ruffenacht, because, she said, "everything out West is large in scale, and sometimes that's hard to find." She added that large-scale items, such as the vases, also reflect attention on men as an "emerging market."

With at-home entertaining becoming ever more popular, it seemed a natural progression that many millennium celebrations will be held not on the town, but among family and friends with mementos to mark it. To this end, buyers at the July market had a lot to choose from in Atlanta.

Aptly called Millennium, a line of commemorative items by New Orleans artist Mignon Faget included a glass chalice, flute, plate and hurricane lamp, also at Abigails. At the Carnevale showroom, Sussex silver-plated chalices in various sizes and styles suitable for engraving were paired with elegant handmade shell Capiz dinnerware.

As always, the New Year will be rung in at Times Square, and a unique replica of the ball to be dropped is available from Waterford. Modeled on the Star of Hope sculpture that the company is crafting for the event, the Times Square 2000 paperweights and Christmas ornaments created a lot of

interest.

At the ever-busy Two's Company showroom, owner Tom Gottlieb showed off some of his company's whimsical offerings for New Year's Eve revelers: one, a candle fashioned into an exact replica of a champagne bottle, and also a millennium 2000 silver-plated champagne cooler that can be engraved. "It's a memento to keep: It looks great and it can be used again," said Gottlieb.

Jay Strongwater, designer of exquisite Austrian crystal-encrusted picture frames, including a millennium design, was showing his line for the first time in Atlanta and reported good response. "It was a good move to come here," he said. As for the millennium buying interest, he said, "People are ordering now because customers will probably start really getting serious about it around September or October. They're beginning to believe it's really going to happen," he said.

The July market also saw a lot of interest in candles as the fall demand comes closer. Novel shapes -- such as those of a Norwegian pine cone from Aspen Bay, popular Feng Shui types from Silkline by Pacific Trade, and collections of candles for blending scents -- were all on display at The Butler Group Inc.

At Werner Frank, fragranced Spa Gel from Colonial Candle's aromatherapy collection, new VUI Co. candle holders and a new convertible bud vase/oil lamp from Wolfard Glassblowing Co. all promised consumers at-home ambience.
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Comment:MAN, OH, MAN! ATLANTA GIFT FAIR APPEALS TO MASCULINE TASTES AND MILLENNIUM MADNESS.
Author:Dukes, Anne
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 19, 1999
Words:827
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