Luxurious Fabrics at Showtime

Carole Sloan, June 5, 2006

High Point, N.C. — A focus on luxury looks highlight the new decorative fabrics being introduced here at Showtime this week. Lots of silks, velvets, embroideries and embellishments in fabric, scrollwork, paisley and Jacobean as design favorites and an abundance of color, albeit in a more muted palette than in past seasons, are in evidence.

In a number of collections, formal looks step down with more informal interpretations, but still definitely not casual in mood.

“Our focus is on luxury,” stated Laura Levinson, senior vp of Valdese, pointing to an expansion of silks and velvet looks as well as a “hint of sheen or metallic” by using different yarn techniques.

“We've also brightened our color palette,” she said, and as a result there's lots of fresh pink to peony to camellia across the board, as well as citron and bright green and tangerine.

Valdese is one of many adopting the look of scrollwork or ironwork in the new collections. Simplicity in modern geometrics and interpretations of Moroccan tilework also are inspirations, Levinson related.

While peacock is considered an important directional color for the Platinum Collection at Richloom, “we see it used with earthy tones,” said Louise Cullen Robinson, Platinum's design director.

And along with most other companies, Robinson considers chocolate a key color to mix with bittersweet, olive or apple green, aqua, pink or lilac. Chocolate continues as a favorite “because it is so leather-friendly.”

Overall, Robinson said, “There's a more softened color, as well as a trend toward the purple family from intense purples to soft lilacs.”

Robinson sees more organic effects in fabric, including prints on linen, and on the other hand, velvets for luxury.

The casual tone of the fabric marketplace is emphasized by Erica Youngelson, design director for American Decorative Fabrics, who sees this direction for traditional or contemporary design. “I'm seeing a lot of paisley and Jacobean motifs and a return to more classic damasks.”

And the casual aspect of the fabrics is also influencing the color palette, which she sees “as hints of color like slate blue.”

“The importance of paisley cannot be understated; there's a huge paisley explosion,” according to Greg Lawrence, print design director for Duralee. “It's going to be important through all levels of the market, especially in mid-scale interpretations.”

Also key to Lawrence is the strength of toiles and country French, along with “lots of color including cobalt, bright green and reds.”

“We're doing silk prints for the first time, and expanding our embroideries in silk, cotton velvet and linen,” said Michael Day, vp, TFA. The silk prints are Indian dupioni printed in Holland.

Other important fabric directions, Day related, are textured boucles as well as silk jacquards and an ombre silk/linen.

Joining chocolate as fashion colors, Day added, are sky blue, merlot, ocean, celadon and sunset. And as with many other fabric firms, TFA sees a strong trend to paisleys and Jacobean motifs.

“There's lots of color on the fashion horizon,” said Cynthia Clark Douthit, vp of design for American Silk, pointing to citron, pink, fuchsia, and blues — “all refreshing, brighter, clear.” Typical would be a layering of citron green, turquoise and emerald in a combination, she noted.

In pattern, the trend is “towards classical but simplified patterns with little checks, bold simple stripes or bands of color, and awning stripes with jaspe yarns as accompaniment.”

Velvet and silk continue as important fabrics.

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