By  on September 4, 2007

NEW YORK — Textiles have always inspired seasonal collections and designers are ramping up the love affair for spring, allowing fabric and print trends to have a new level of influence.

Oscar de la Renta, for instance, is a master with structured fabrics, like the laminated tweeds from his fall collection. But he has also shown skill with softer-edged materials such as the chiné taffeta in his most recent resort collection. This spring, he will combine the two ideas.

"My spring collection will feature very tailored looks," said de la Renta. "But there is an emphasis on more relaxed, stretch fabrics that allow for an ease of movement."

This combination of ideas is expected to be prevalent on a lot of spring runways. A dichotomy of concepts in color palettes and in fabrics have infiltrated the season. Beginning with textile design shows in January, spring's traditional, floating pastels have shared the limelight with fall-like, grounded color themes.

"My patterns and fabrics are inspired by a palette of richly saturated, rustic hues," said de la Renta of his spring collection.

But it isn't an exact science. When designers take inspiration from the season's fabric trends, it is in their individual executions that the element of surprise is preserved.

"Oftentimes, at exhibitions, another designer and I will paw at the same swatch," said Hervé Pierre, design director at Carolina Herrera. "But the way I cook the material, versus the way they will cook it, will create collections with vastly different flavors."

The industry's leading designers are intensely secretive about the fabrics they use and the looks they'll be showing, making it difficult to predict what the shows will bring. However, a group of new, forward-thinking designers are betting on the hybrid model.

At Gen Art, where successful collections like Zac Posen, Chaiken and Rebecca Taylor were first promoted, designers are experimenting with material blends and cross-seasonal concepts.

At Delphyne Guiraud, the French designer plans to show directional fabrics like a rayon lattice over reflective iridescent silk netting. And spring jackets in merino wool and silk velvet accent more traditional silk chiffon and crepe de chine at Bensoni."Our designers have a very strong definition of their style. For many of them, part of that is these innovative fabrics and combinations," said Lee Trimble, fashion director at Gen Art. "We're very interested to see how these ideas will translate onto the runway."

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