Showtime in the pink

Don Hogsett, Carole Sloan, July 14, 2003

Think pink.

That's the message from many decorative fabrics designers, who see the gamut of pinks from blush to geranium as the key color influence for home fashions for the coming year, touching on the total color spectrum from neutrals and naturals to the popular blues.

In terms of design, a number of key designers see a separation of looks along the lines of feminine and masculine influences — a marked departure from the unisex looks of recent years. And several design mavens have observed an increasing influence from home fashions looks on apparel fashion directions.

Overall, the decorative fabrics mood is softer — even in contemporary — with softer lines and more muted colors.

"There's been an absence of soft and light colors," explained David Byers, design director for Wearbest Sil-Tex. "There's been a strong influence of deep, rich colors." New for Wearbest, he added, "are highly tinted neutrals running the gamut from dusty pinks to pale blues."

Wesley Mancini, president of Wesley Mancini Ltd., sees pink "embracing shades from grayed tones to more intense versions like geranium — happier colors." He noted that orange and citrus "are still growing in importance as well as lavender and purple and yellowy neutrals."

"We're emphasizing pink, especially vivid pinks in formal silk damasks," explained Cynthia Clark-Douthit, vp, design for American Silk Mills. "We see pretty brights with pink and pink with tropical influences."

Other important color directions, Clark-Douthit related, are turquoise "more on the blue side than green" and yellowed turquoise accents, clear reds and surf blue. Overall "color has more clarity," she said.

Taking the pink story across the board, Michael Day, vp, design for TFA, said "We're going from mauve to pinks to dusty rose to raspberry to blush." The company's "flower of the season" — a begonia — is touched by all shades of pink, he reported.

"There's a strong return to pinks from soft taupe shades to lilac," said Christie Almond, senior designer, jobber division for Craftex. "It's part of the design trend to feminine and masculine looks with delicate, soft pastels and smaller-scale designs part of the feminine segment."

"Colors are getting happier, more upbeat," said Louise Cullen Robinson, creative director, Richloom's Platinum collection, pointing to "pretty blues like Dresden, coral and raspberry blends, apple green and copper and orange influences on many colors from loden to apple."

For Pam Maffei-Toolan, vp, design at Waverly, the color palette also features "watercolor looks and brighter shades in pear green, lemon yellow and persimmon corals. We're also seeing navy, slate and delft in blue."

Bruce Pachter, creative director for Chris Stone California, said, "Traditional is going to be more important. We're getting away from loud and bold towards muted and comfortable, even in contemporary. I also have a gut feeling that chintz is coming back."

At Waverly, the trend is "toward a more contemporary flavor for our traditional florals — looser, brighter," said Maffei-Toolan. "But there's also a huge push for menswear looks, but in apparel and home." Waverly is moving to these looks from houndstooth to paisleys in more saturated colors.

One new look is Nantucket, "a vintage approach printed on yarn dyed gingham. And perhaps chintz is in the future with a brighter color palette," she said.

Waverly also sees "the continuation of texture from woven chenilles to carved looks" and will offer a separate line that will cross over with prints.

For Craftex, the feminine looks are contrasted with the masculine trends toward aged effects, herringbones, tapes-tries and wool, Almond reported. This is a sharp contrast "from the ambiguous designs of folkloria that appealed to both sexes in past years."

At TFA, the major direction is velvet — in precision quilted effects, embroideries and jacquards — and "another fashion look is texture," said Day. Also important is "flea market chic, everything from Parisian looks to paisley," he added. Silks also are emerging.

At American Silk the trend is "leaning to more texture with traditional designs in softer constructions including jaspé yarns as well as a range of warp stripe in silk to canvas looks," Clark-Douthit related. But dressy is very important too, she added.

"Classic elegance will continue to be strong," Wearbest's Byers asserted. "We see more eclectic traditional."

Richloom's Robinson said her direction involves more exotic cultures, with intricate patterning, embroidery, swirling Arabesque influences, and a "fun mix of antique florals and tropicals."

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