NEW YORK — Colorful spring flowers were in full bloom at last week’s set of textile design shows — Printsource and Directions — both held at the Hotel Pennsylvania here.

Largely Asian in feel, the majority of featured looks were floral — both in prints and knits. The range included takes on Japanese kimono and Chinese chinoiserie styles, as well as the Hawaiian motifs seen throughout the spring runways. Also important was the continuance of dots and stripes in vibrant colors.

Attendees at both shows were pleased with the selection and the return of a more colorful array.

"We’re headed for a great season of color and print," said Olivia Spence, vice president of product development and design at Dana Buchman, who attended both shows. "It was one of the [best] seasons for prints that I had seen in several years. The color direction was great…and, in general, I saw a higher level of development in the prints, which made them much more sophisticated."

Spence also noted the explosion of florals. "The best for us were the larger-scale looks in tonal watercolors," she said. "Dana Buchman is known for sophisticated prints, so these will work beautifully."

While most exhibitors agreed that florals were key, they said the Asian interpretation was not as literal as in the past. "It’s very slight," said Melissa Wright, co-owner of Whiston & Wright, at Directions. "It’s not as in-your-face as before."

Offerings there included a combination of citrus colors such as coral, yellow and green. Wright also felt strongly about the antiqued wallpaper-like florals she was showing in reds and oranges, which were "very Fifties in feel," she noted.

At Printsource, the team at Spoogi was leaning toward florals with a retro look, both in Asian motifs reminiscent of the Thirties and Forties, and Hawaiian tropicals with a retro and urban feel, often combined.

"It’s really a crossover, so the outcome is not so defined," said Neale Langman, owner. "We’re also interpreting the trends into denim with a very abstract interaction of patterns."

At Directions, The Colorfield’s co-owner, Adam Read, felt that Asian florals would be "very strong for the spring 2004 season." There, they were offered in bright pastels that included aqua blues and greens, as well as spectator colors such as mustard brown and white.Meanwhile, at The Collection, also at Directions, Hawaiian tropicals were offered in an array of bright colors, the most important of which was yellow. "We really feel strongly about that color," said Anthony Brown, a rep for the studio.

A natural progression from the Hawaiian theme, scuba looks, were also seen, said many, thanks to Nicolas Ghesquière’s spring collection for Balenciaga.

At Tom Cody, which showed at Printsource, its Splash trend featured tropical palm frescos and aquatic screen prints. "Designer Hee-Su Hong created that collection," Cody said. "She’s worked on prints for men’s wear in the past, so I think she has a great perspective from doing so much surf and scuba."

Other studios were showcasing florals in a more unusual way. Among them was Directions’ Alison Hume 101, where floral prints were layered on tie-dye-like corduroy and then embroidered. Also interesting was a discharge print on denim that was then accented with foil and denim floral cutouts sandwiched between chiffon.

Dots and stripes continued with a slightly more abstract feel. At Milkprint, part of Directions, stripes were doing well in the studio’s range of candy colors, as were its abstract dots, some more oval in shape. "The look is very feminine and soft," said Aneeta Verma, co-owner and designer.

At Westcott, also at Directions, dots were colored in rose and beige tones, as well as brighter colors mixed with neutrals. Stripes, said owner Peter Westcott, showed up on knits and prints. "The look is more organic and rustic and not as defined," he said.

At The Style Council, part of Printsource, its Bon Bon trend featured Fifties-style dots and florals in a rainbow of pastels. Brewster, also at Printsource, went the Fifties route as well with a collection of soft patterns that included combinations of dots, flowers, leaves and stripes on a washed-out palette of brown and white. "We print them on cotton poplins and voiles so the look stays fresh and simple," said Fiona Layfield, art director.

At Printsource, Daniel Sager’s dots were doing well, he said, as were stripes in multicolored hues that included lime green. The Works, exhibiting at Printsource as well, had a collection of appliquéd and embroidered dots.Lisa James, director, noted that it was important to offer them in a new way — "they’re more abstract than before." Everything from the placement to a stitch on the embroidery had a new and different twist, she added.

Also back on the scene were conversationals. Many exhibitors noticed a renewed interest in them, such as at London Portfolio, which showed at Directions, where conversationals were key to many buyers’ resort and intimate apparel collections. Milkprint’s Verma noted that buyers were once again requesting them. Motifs there included cocktails, umbrellas, fruit and poodles on dotted grounds. Sager’s conversationals included Hawaiian resort looks that were "much more illustrative than in the past," he said.

Heather Hernon, a designer for sleepwear and loungewear at Old Navy, was pleased to see so many bright color combinations, citing mixtures that include mint and lime green, salmon, light pinks and aqua tones. She said, "I felt they looked new, fresh and really clean."

Also included in many of the studio’s palettes were neon-like tones — something that Matthew Tennant, co-owner at Alison Hume 101, said is going to be key. "I’m not so sure people are ready for it right now," he said, "but acidy, almost fluorescent colors are definitely coming back."

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