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  • Cecile Corral

Raymond Waites for no one at the table

After a five-year hiatus from the category, designer Raymond Waites has returned to the table with a new collection of tablecloths, napkins, runners, formal floor-length chair covers and a line of kitchen textiles through a recent partnership with Braintree, MA-based Avonhome.

The Raymond Waites Table Wear and Raymond Waites Kitchen Wear collections include coordinating and free-standing products and comprise more than 500 skus centered on Waite's opulent English-inspired design perspective. Avonhome's line markets to department and specialty stores. While the official launch is slated for spring market later this week, previews have resulted in at least three retail placements.

"It really complements what we do because it's a different customer from our Croscill line and any of our mainstay programs," George Kouri, Jr., president, said. " In today's marketplace with all of the emphasis on promotional goods there was a huge void for transitional looks and we felt [Waites'] look has a place."

Waites, based at 290 Fifth Ave., explained that about five years ago he worked with then-licensee Ex-Cell Home Fashions on a table linen line. But he then decided to take a break on the category because of time constraints to properly develop it.

Waites was lured back to the table following a series of meetings with executives at Avonhome, which has its studios and showroom in across the street, at 295 Fifth Ave.

"They were very excited about the prospect and they love my work," Waites said in an interview. "That makes it so much better for me because I know they understand my designs and know how to make it work [for the category]."

The "driving force" of this new collection, Waites said, is his signature color palette of red, antique gold and warm green as well as some "fresh new colors," he said, like blue with white and yellow with cream.

The table linen line is extensive, including yarn-dyed formal damasks in cinnabar, alabaster and black with highlights of metallic silvers and golds, 18 to 24 prints on damask bases, higher-end yarn-dyed woven cloths with tight weaves and slub yarns, and a textured damask chenille cloth. The coordinating placemats, napkins, runners and floor-length chair covers include "added value" features, such as velvet taping, grosgrain ribbon and tassels, among other embellishments, according to Chris Mooney, vp, marketing and design.

Avonhome is also making hard cork-backed mats and coasters that employ lamination and a four-color print process. These mats are being marketed as coordinating but free-standing based on their motifs, which include a cheetah, a red and gold Chinese toile and urns of fruit. Another decorative accessory for the table is a broad selection of napkin rings — including dragon flies, bamboo rings, animal print leather and tassels.

For the kitchen textiles category, the offerings are also broad. They include a vinyl-coated fabric tablecloth in patterns that each feature 12 to 15 colors.

Coordinating placemats, in four designs featuring lacquer red, olive green, harvest gold, marine blue and soft blue with ivory accents, also are made of vinyl-coated fabric plus feature foam backing in assorted shapes, like scallop-edged rounds and ovals.

One collection of kitchen towels made to coordinate with the vinyl-coated placemats will be constructed of printed terry and flat woven jacquard.

In addition, there will be four multi-colored yarn-dyed kitchen towels with attached printed borders and inset piping.

And sets of four towels, made in Turkey, are also available in constructions of flat-woven with the word "Vintage" woven into the towel and flat woven dishcloths with large ticking stripe. Also from Turkey is a two-piece linen glass towel set.

Oven mitts and round pot holders will be made with heavy-gauge duck fabric, diamond quilted with terry cloth interiors and reverses. In addition, Avonhome will be introducing aprons for the first time through this licensed program, including 12 skus in solid duck, yarn-died woven and other coordinating prints. Also coordinating with the line will be short-skirted yarn-dyed plaid chair covers.

Added Mary Bonanno, vp of marketing and design: "The exciting result is that you stand back and look at the merchandised line and you feel that wonderful combination of knowing that you're looking at something very fresh but at the same time knowing that it's utterly salable."

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