'Pretty' impressive

Marvin Lazaro, Carole Sloan, January 22, 2001

It was a tale of two fabric shows, held back to back, and each impressive in its own way.

First was the humongous Heimtextil in Frankfurt, Germany-the second show in the January marathon of markets that began with Showtime in High Point.

As usual, this largest of all home furnishings fabric and product shows offered a vast variety of looks, colors, designs and qualities. But this year there was no real wow factor.

Instead, there was a plethora of interesting constructions, both with and without chenille as the centerpiece. The entire purple family was the dominant color statement, and sheen and sparkle offered surprising new looks, especially when shown as topical finishes on velvets and taffetas. Pucker has come back, with pleating, deep puckers and subtle seersucker effects fairly abundant.

"Pretty" was an operative word. Light, airy vines used alone or shown with leaves or flowers were important design elements for both prints and jacquards. Huge motifs-mostly flowers but also geometrics-were used on fabrics as well as bed, bath and table linens. In a similar vein, there was definite evidence of a long-delayed return of one-across motifs as well as centered panel motifs. And for the minimalists in the audience, linear interpretations of design motifs were abundant.

But at Heimtextil, the biggest news once again was the impact of the emerging textile countries. China to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and on and on.

It was interesting to see U.S. fabric producers visiting these stands-and not just out of curiosity. The real-world implications are that American fabric companies are moving toward working out business relationships with some of these companies.

The second fabric show was in Paris, the Biennale, which showcases the crème de la crème. In the last several exhibitions, the crème was somewhat soured, but this year's show was truly a renaissance.

Not only were the companies the right ones to be represented, but their products created the wow factor.

Whether it was the special stitchery or cutwork, or the rich velvets or the opulence of the trimmings, and the specialness of the prints, there clearly were direction signals all around.

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