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Veratex changes the beat

Veratex is taking on a dramatically different look, reinterpreting its signature opulence into more contemporary designs, and presenting a collection of prints for the first time in six years.

"If the look is right, the customers will buy," said Avi Cohen, president. "What matters is the style."

Although Veratex is freshening its assortment with a new design twist, the company isn't abandoning the Old World look for which it has become well known, said vp Dale Talbert.

"We had some success with a few contemporary-type items and realized there's a much bigger call for that than we believed in the past," he said.

But on four beds, Veratex is bringing a new touch to classically luxurious bedding, noted Susan Hagan, director of design, bedding.

"We still have the Old World look, but in a cotton construction with a drier hand," she said. "It's more fashion-forward and not as heavily embellished."

The Paulina bed, for example, features a red-framed medallion on linen for a vintage feeling. Mambo is a cotton-stripe construction with hand-picking that pipes through the stripes.

"The customer can add small breakfast pillows that are heavily embellished if they want to layer in that look," Hagan added. "We've embellished them in such a way that elevates their value."

The new print collection, which will retail around $349 for comforter sets, also consists of four beds. Sabrina is embroidered, with a 4-inch antique jacquard ribbon on an ultra-feminine floral print. Fuji features a tropical print on a faux suede with a deep aubergine ground. Etienne is built around an engineered paisley suggestive of a wood block technique, with fine stripes and raffia accents lending a south seas flavor. And Dynasty is a silk dupioni color-blocked in three tones of orange, accented with gimping.

"We're using a lot of accents featuring oranges, reds and yellows," Hagan said.

In accent pieces, Veratex is adding jumbo bolsters 38 inches and 48 inches long to lend drama to the bed and give it a cleaner look.

The Hike Up Your Skirt adjustable bedskirt Veratex introduced during the New York Home Textiles Market this past spring is expanding as well. The skirt, which can be altered to lengths ranging from 14 inches to 21 inches with the twist of a few grommets, was introduced in a satin gabardine construction. During this week's market, Veratex will add to the line with three new constructions: a silk dupioni with tassel fringe, a "crystal sateen" sheer, and a soft twill that can coordinate with quilts and more casual top-of-bed covers.

Veratex's bath collection also is pushing the boundaries. In addition to expanding the assortment of its inaugural line of Medici solid color towels, which just began shipping, Veratex will expand into freestanding bath hardware and fixtures.

The company had previously produced some hardware and fixtures for individual customers but has decided to add them to the open line, said Barbara Wright, vp, bath.

Elsewhere in bath, Veratex is focusing on unique constructions to lend its brand differentiation. A line of colored metallic accessories in 12 hues, called Liquid Colors, throws off a look "that I don't think anyone has seen anywhere before," she added.

The new Rice Paper Lantern collection, for example, produced a multi-layered shower curtain with a crinkled sheer overlaying a color panel.

"The rice paper effect of the crinkled sheer softens the color coming from underneath," Wright explained. "Everyone has been very excited about it."

The Radiant collection offers embossed porcelain pieces with handpainted floral treatments in an art nouveau style. Coordinating shower curtains are constructed of an embroidered ombre sheer in soft pink, pale yellow or pale blue.

Additional shower curtain offerings are designed around textures, beading, embellishments and jacquard wovens, Wright said.

The broader message of the company's design direction, said Cohen, is that not every creative challenge can be solved by running off to China for less expensive versions of existing fabrications.

"We all have to be better. We have to have more resources. We have to travel more," he said. "Let's do better things. Let's go forward."

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