Showtime Set to ‘Pop’

Carole Sloan, January 10, 2005

New York — An expansion of the movement embracing the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s design heritage will propel contemporary into new interpretations in decorative fabrics.

At Showtime in High Point, N.C., this week and on through the year, what many designers are calling “pop” contemporary will be the highlight of new lines. But most agree, it will be a 21st century rendition of the somewhat quirky and distinctive design statements of the past mid-century.

Patterns will be simpler, more graphic, sleeker. The apparel influence will see more boucles, textures and dimensional effects.

The surge of faux suede as a solid color fabric has inspired a number of companies to create print collections especially for this base cloth.

At the same time, decorative fabric designers see more decoration, more opulence and luxury coming to the fore.

As for the color palette, it continues to be bright and brash with some forecasting a toning down in coming seasons. New combinations of colors and lots of white as a fashion accent will be featured.

“Patterns are getting very simple, with a wonderful flow. And there’s more color than pattern,” explained Marion Murray, vice president, design for the Robert Allen Group. The key, she added, is “the lines are simplistic, more hand-drawn looks.”

Overall, she noted, “There is a real marriage with apparel trends —happier but not Lilly Pulitzer, less edgy.”

“Our business is so tied to ready-to-wear,” Greg Lawrence, design director of prints at Duralee, agreed. He sees the trend as a today interpretation of the ’80’s in ready to wear — “rich lady looks, Republican chic looks.”

The result, he added, “is that design is getting more decorated with sheers, luxurious treatments, opulence.” One interpretation of traditional is being presented in a series of two tones in design themes like paisleys and toiles — “You don’t just use them on a pillow or chair but in yards and yards at the window and on beds.”

At the same time, Lawrence sees a trend to interpretations of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s in contemporary prints.

For Wesley Mancini, president of Wesley Mancini Ltd., “There is a continuing growth of contemporary, what I call the new pop — ’60’s and ’70’s pop but streamlined for today, and very much a color story.”

Mancini sees more vivid colors offset with white. And the colors themselves are changing with Dijon, a warm gold, becoming the new yellow; latte, a deeper and redder brown; ocean, a dark blue with a green cast; mist, a light grayed blue; salmon, a light medium pink; and azalea, a medium blue red.

At Waverly, “We’re thought of as a traditional house but our Metropolitan Collection is different,” explained Pam Maffai-Toolan, vice president, design. “It’s retro ’50’s inspired, very geometric and a jacquard checkerboard base cloth.”

Overall, the line has a “cleaner more modern approach to design,” Maffei-Toolan related. “We have a number of targeted looks — whimsical, rustic, lodge.”

As for color, Maffei-Toolan emphasized, “You can’t be shy about it. I’m excited by the brighter tangerines, fuchsia and pinks. And spa colors are really hot now — mist blue, chocolate and mocha.”

“Retro modern is our twist on contemporary,” said Michael Day, vice president, Textile Fabric Associates (TFA). “We’re seeing sleek looks, textures, and boucles and the most interesting is a linen ground contemporary velvet we’re introducing.”

Silks continue to be a growing piece of business at TFA with ikats, embroideries and overlays joining an already broad assortment of decorated fabrics. “There’s a return to elegance with formal looks, damasks, embroidered crewels.” And the firm’s signature raffia collection will feature raffia with grosgrain for this season.

The entire young, retro movement “is influencing traditional design,” said Louise Cullen Robinson, creative director, Richloom’s Platinum Collection. “Design is simpler, more graphic, colorful.” Pink and apple green continue to be important but with a new combination of blue/turquoise/apple with white coming on.

In traditional, Cullen Robinson sees “exotic, saturated color, embellished designs, crewels and artisany looks emerging.” New colors will be more coral pinks and marigolds, she said.

At Craftex, “We see retro ’50’s and ’60’s as being very fresh,” said Melanie Newman, senior designer, decorative jobbers. “It’s contemporary with sophistication, simple forms and positive/negative looks.”

Other important directions, she said, include “stylized ethnic interpretations of florals, menswear stripes in color like pink with emerald, and a definite European approach to color.”

As Duralee’s Lawrence looks ahead, he sees a bluer palette overall, and specifically orange reds changing to ruby reds, yellow greens to emerald and lots of mauve.

Down the road, Robert Allen’s Murray said, “We see merlot replacing pinks, blues turning more greens, emerald, and a pinkiere coral — all fabulous saturated shades but edgy and deep as well.”

The white with color trend is a strong force at Valdese, said Laura Levinson, senior vice president. “It’s a new backdrop for the cleaner, clearer color palette and we’re using in paired with red, bright blue, raspberry, canary or an almost kelly green,” she explained. “This white is a new pure almost chalk shade to offer the right contrast with the color.”

In design, Valdese is taking an eclectic approach, creating a younger, hipper look mixing retro geometrics with traditional frame motifs, she related.

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