NEW YORK — Leather’s getting real.

Trends for the spring 2004 season will take their cue from real life, in place of focusing on the artificial, according to European trend consultant Angelo Uslenghi at a recent presentation for the Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather Consortium.

“There’s a mix of harmony with nature and a bit of fantasy,” he offered.

He sketched out three directions to define the season: Heat, Pause and Sprint.

The Heat theme evoked a tropical feeling. Uslenghi described its colors as baked in the sun, including a variety of deep, earthy tones with burnt orange and yellow as accents. The group’s textures were slightly distressed and rustic. “There are grooves, cracks and peels that look as if they were done by the wind, sand or salt,” he said. Pattern-wise, tribal symbols — inspired by masks, pottery and tattoos — gave the theme a primitive and handmade feel.

Pause had a more relaxed and quiet effect. The palette featured candy-like pastels that included celadon, rose, medium lavender and a soft peach. “It’s about slowing down,” said Uslenghi. Its textures were delicate, polished and smooth, and included patterns such as blotting — “like melting ice cream” — ombré and small engravings that gave a slight three-dimensional effect. Its colors were also layered to create a pattern.

The Sprint group featured colors that were bright and sporty, with an emphasis on reds and blues. “With this grouping, I wanted to create a festive atmosphere,” Uslenghi continued. “One with vitality and energy.” He said the group would be well-suited to sports apparel. It included patterns such as engravings, prints and embossing with themes such as Pop Art and vibrant Fifties shades. Geometric designs were an especially important component.

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