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Directional shift

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, July 8, 2002

At Showtime, which kicks off today in High Point, NC, there will be some clear new directions that will affect all home furnishings for the next few years.

In talking with both sellers and buyers over the last weeks, many pointed to some interesting shifts in the design and color direction for the fabric market overall and especially for the more decorative channel segments of the market that influence fashion directions — jobbers, high-end retailers and high-end furniture manufacturers.

One of the most interesting directions that is emerging is a return to formality or elegance — about which everyone involved is quick to say, "Not the starched skirts, white gloves and the like," but more a comfortable, at-home dressup.

As several fabric design directors explained, it is part of the perceived American quest for a home comfort zone, and one that is definitely more warm and fuzzy than minimalism contemporary.

And it clearly is evidenced by the product being shown this week at Showtime — lots of dressy silk looks, even if constructed in utilitarian polyester; more relaxed translations of liseries, damasks, romantic themes; and even artworks that have been interpreted from overscaled paintings and tapestries to fabrics that work in the home.

As for color, there is certainly more of it — not brash and bold, but definitely brighter, clearer and more fun-loving than in recent years. Even fabric houses that are noted for specializing in vintage or tea-stained looks have popped the color palette in their lines. Greyed-out looks old is the way one design maven put it.

Then there is the "velvet equation," a construction direction that reinforces the impact of chenille but gives opportunities to other constructions, including velvet, that offer a variety of tactile flavors. Part of this tactile change is a major shift from cotton chenille to rayon chenille for both hand and luster features.

And more than ever the fashion direction of residential home furnishings is moving closer to the trends in the world of fashion and contract furnishings.

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