Byline: Allegra Holch

NEW YORK--"The old rules don't apply," said Allison Webb, manager, creative services for The Fibers Division of Wellman Inc., as she looked to fall '98 in a trend presentation.
"There will be artful combinations and unexpected mixes of fabrics. When it comes to fabrics, performance is everything," she said.
"We're looking to see what's on the horizon," said Webb. "If we assume the Millennium is a time of shake-up, that will result in a new perspective that will ultimately affect business."
Webb, whose series of presentations were held recently at Wellman's offices here, pinpointed four themes, all reflecting a futuristic mood. The themes are Techno Scape, Uniform Constellations, Cosmic Charm and Atmospheric Effects.
Techno Scape centers on new fabrics that provide protection and softness. Plush velours, second-skin jersey and crushed panne velvets were some of the fabric ideas Webb showed here, but she pointed out that these fabrics traditionally linked to dressy looks will be used in casual, nondressy silhouettes. Warm, cozy fleeces, pile fabrics, shiny laminates and quilting details for protection from the elements are also key.
Uniform Constellations is inspired by utilitarian uniforms. Simple silhouettes, monochromatic colors and rugged yet soft fabrics are at the center of this trend. Function is significant with sturdy materials such as polyester suede, brushed flannel, thick sherpa and corduroy. Knits are also important with hefty fisherman-style sweaters and rustic yarns.
Cosmic Charm focuses on corporate casual dressing and updated weekend wear. Fabrics center on "classics with a twist" said Webb. Traditional plaids look fresh in new, brighter colors with the addition of stretch. Knits in space-dyed yarns, retro geometrics and double-faced constructions are represented. Eclectic mixes of pattern, texture and color give this trend an offhand, casual feel.
Atmospheric Effects is about career wear with an edge, achieved with lots of eye-catching, special effects on fabrics. Webb suggests mixing the glamorous with the sober. For instance, she cited iridescent and sheer fabrics--such as panne, shiny satins and burnout velvets--combined with serious pinstripes and gray flannel.

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