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P'tex plans coming out party for Royal Velvet

Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, September 23, 2002

Pillowtex Corp., known for years as a manufacturer of conventional bedding designs, during spring market had taken some steps away from that reputation. This fall, the company continues working to shed that image.

In addition to the introductions made for the major mill, Gretchen Dale, vp of design and new product development also revealed her plan to get the Royal Velvet line and its director of design, Patricia Feiwel, "out of the bag." In other words, Dale is hoping to eventually offer the line as open stock and give Feiwel the freedom that goes along with designing and developing a line with fewer price constraints than bed-in-a-bag.

Many of the new beds unveiled by Pillowtex offered designs with several different constructions, ranging from the comforter to the decorative pillows to the shams as well as decorative hems on the coordinating sheeting, all coupled with embellishments ranging from sequins to beads.

"We're trying to build on that momentum, which we started last market," Dale said of the varied looks offered by her team of designers.

"We're putting a lot of stuff on the bed that's really creative and unusual," said Feiwel.

Pillowtex's Royal Velvet line has been augmented with seven new looks, but is not undergoing any price changes and continues to start from its $279 queen price point. In addition, an RV Stripe has been added to the Royal Velvet Intrigue sheeting collection, which coordinates to all of the solid colors offered. Three colorations of the Stripe are available — pastel, neutral and deep.

Victoria is a finely woven jacquard floral in a rich earth tone coloration. Rayon silk euro shams highlight the bed, while the decorative pillows are corded with an intricately woven plaid. The soft and feminine Weskit is offered in subtle shades of lavender and taupe and its design that was inspired by arts and crafts. Trading Post's theme is taken directly from a Native American rug and features a panel with a chenille pattern. Vegetable-dye shades of blue and rusty red color the ensemble, which also features, while turquoise-beaded medallions and tooled leather and fringe. Marrakesh is inspired by a hand-woven mantle cloth from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in an array of colors. "The idea is a hand look here," Feiwel said.

Cinnabar features dramatic red poppies on a black ground on cotton sateen with an antique texture and printed poppy hem on the sheet. Beijing is a richly woven jacquard with traditional Chinese motifs in grayed blue and gold with touches of bright colors in the sheet complementing the look. Festive Stripe is inspired by the paintings of Gustav Klimt and offers a woven jacquard in shades of gold and copper and sheets with painterly triangles for a soft, contemporary look.

Eight new beds are available for the Charisma line of ensembles — Mykonos, Gwyneth, Notting Hill, Callandra, Shangri La Ivory, Mustique, Flights of Fancy and Alycen — with prices varying according to the weight of the beds. Sheeting weight beds start from $299 for a queen, while decorative weights range from $329 to $399, also for a queen.

Mykonos, colored in soft green pastis and oxygen, combines a duvet cover printed at Mascioni that features soft pools of watercolor in bands of color across the bed. Gwyneth features a soft watercolor medley of roses, Indian-inspired motifs and paisleys for a romantic effect. The duvet cover features quilted patchwork. Notting Hill is a loose watercolor rendition of a traditional botanical with a printed duvet cover in lavender and sage accents and hand-plaited and knotted grosgrains ribbons for the euro shams and accent pillow. Pleated dressmaker details adorn Callandra, which is done in a shade of cassis for the silken duvet cover. A jacquard woven coverlet and euro shams feature a version of a classic Jacobean design. Shangri La Ivory is a version of the original white Shangri La, only with a warmer palette. Mustique is built around a tonal embroidery of blooms and leaves on a silken ground. Iridescent butterflies adorn Flights of Fancy, which is colored in a lapis softly calendered for an almost glossy finish. Tossed floral bouquets with a detailed embroidery on a taupe taffeta ground make up Alycen.

And while the Fieldcrest line of beds has been supplemented with Freestyle, a young, contemporary youthful line, as well as five traditional Fieldcrest beds, Dale said the entire line will be revamped for next market.

"It'll have a whole new platform," she said. "It's got to be that way because it had become the private label for stores, practically, and didn't have a branded identity."

The utility down area has been augmented with a down comforter, which has the look of a quilt. Offered in 10 constructions — two of which use the Intrigue solid sheeting for the front and back, four of which use the Royal Velvet solid-color line, and four with the quilt looks — "all use a different take on down," Dale said.

Also for the first time, Pillowtex unveiled its Fieldcrest line of bath rugs. Two sizes and two shapes are offered this October with retail prices starting at $24.99. The rugs have a tufted nylon center, multi-colored polyester/propylene chenille braid, a non-skid latex backing and are machine washable. Eight colors are offered that are taken directly from the towel palette. "This is really just the start," said Sally Ann Jacobs, director of design for floor coverings. "We have concepts in development, and we'll keep coming out with things that will be unique, new additions to the line."

Six new towels have been added to the Charisma bath towel line: Honeybee, Athens, Jasmine, Madeline, Purity and Tuxedo. Dale said, "I think this is the most innovative towel line in Charisma towels." Some feature whimsical themes (Honeybee), while others use luxurious details, such as rayon accents (Madeline). Prices start at $19.99.

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