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Look to the cathedral for inspiration

January 24, 2012

Milena VenusThe verdict is in. When you look beyond the whites for spring and summer blanketing Maison & Objet, look to the future with the help of the textiles leaders who present their new lines here under the umbrella Paris Deco Off. A much darker and richer palette is on the horizon for fall/winter 2012/13 and into 2014.

Red is the undisputed leader, deep and intense, followed by re-energized purple, strong blues and greens supported for emphasis by black. It's a rich brew reminiscent of stained glass created by artists when cathedrals and churches were built during a bygone era which seems destined for a re-evaluation seen through the eyes of today.

What seemed just a far off hint in market offerings a year or so ago is becoming more evident. Earlier style periods are entering creators' collective consciousness adding their own style and color vocabulary into modern times. Aside from the museum exhibitions I mentioned in an earlier blog, a random look into a book store this week revealed two new books on Bruegel, the Flemish painter, Albrecht Duerer, the German artist, both of the 16th century, and a published collection of Medieval documents. Both museum shows and freshly published books are often prescient before a new turn in decorative styles.

The textiles which relate to these periods, both in color and design conjure up another dichotomy: our recent quest for simplicity set against a second coming of luxury, more sumptuous than before and made somewhat mysterious as to origin. Velvet appliqués, crystal, sequins and jewel accents are part and parcel of this exotic direction, best expressed by Mulberry. Deep browns and glowing gold tones are their shadow companions.

Bridging the gap between now and then, modern and luxury are often seen side by side in combinations of black with silver or black with gold, often in semi transparent fabrics, sheers ,even laces.

Sahco featured an astonishing reversible lace, pure red on one side, black with silver on the other. How do they do that? This company has long pushed the limits with this time floral appliqués of black patent leather or laser-cut gray felt strips, both anchored on black netting. Hand pleating and bright red strips of laser cut georgette mounted in tight layers achieved the look of free moving ruffles, appropriately named Flamenco.

Technical applications allowed for a number of new effects, among them a techno-linen processed so that it can be laser cut without fraying and high profile looped textures as at Catherine Rgehr, a Canadian firm.

Water effects a la moire were seen in many showrooms, sometimes relying just on the water marks for visual impact, sometimes used as a background for another.

As for patterns, many houses relied on the rendition of leaves and trees rather than flowers to mark their partnership with nature. Designs from the 1950's turned out to be very popular in simpler, mostly linen and cotton constructions but also seen in wovens, especially plentiful at Harlequin-Sanderson.

So where does this leave all the talk and forecasts about bright colors? Well, they are here, too, and in abundance at Pierre Frey and Nobilis at their most boisterous.

They tend to carry the DNA of ethnic cultures, all the more applicable and useful as they make the point in a summary general way rather than highlighting a specific culture. This gives these patterns, ranging from large geometrics to strie wovens and basket weave effects a modern sensibility. Here, the brilliant reds, both of the blue hued and orange-brown variety are freely paired with blues, turquoise and teal, bright yellows and lots of new greens in joyous combinations.