By  on September 17, 2007

LYON, France — Innerwear as outerwear is a firmly entrenched fashion look, but this year's Lyon, Mode City proved there are plenty of permutations left in the trend.

The formal runway shows at the fair highlighted a high-octane mix of intimates and lingerie-related accessories that covered the gamut from sleek and sporty to ingenue, girly and frilly and femme fatale.

The key element was how the product was merchandised, whether it was an allover lace longline bustier with suspenders with jeans or a multiprint bra and briefs in a collage of fabrics paired with a little knit shrug, a sheer embroidered tunic or active-inspired pull-on pants. The result was a smorgasbord of ideas and concepts for retailers and developers of private label showing how they could cross-merchandise products from different apparel and accessories categories.

Swimwear, in particular, reflected the overriding influence of lingerie with special touches, including lots of glitz, one-shoulder treatments, elaborate detailing on bra cups and beaded transparent cover-ups that double as dressy tunics. On the flip side, lingerie featured intricate and delicate embellishments, Impressionist-inspired watercolor florals and antique-looking oversize roses. Important developments in lingerie included:

- A return to the Seventies-inspired bikini brief.

- The balconette bra, which gives a wide, voluptuous bosom reminiscent of "Dangerous Liaisons."

- Men's wear striping with combinations of small prints. 

- Lots of ornate corsetry with suspenders and novelty legwear.

- A multitude of lace insets juxtaposed alongside printed laces and luxe fabrics.

- Short, contemporary daywear and sleepwear looks with more angular silhouettes.

- Thongs that reveal froufrou frontal effects like sheer layered flounces and lace overlays.

- Simple loungewear pieces in eco-friendly blends of Modal, bamboo, soy, hemp, jute and organic cotton and linens.

The main presentation at the entrance kicked off with a "Wizard of Oz" version of the yellow brick road — a 4,200-square-foot green-carpeted walkway called La Galerie d'Evolution that linked the Interfilière hall with the lingerie and swimwear halls. The pathway was strewn with a number of innovative displays such as a carnival carousel of handcrafted embroideries, trims, ribbons and laces merchandised to mimic pastries and candies called Delicious Audacity, and an interactive plastic wall created by Christophe Weber that featured a woman wearing lace lingerie, which moved and changed positions as visitors touched it.Innerwear executives generally said they liked the mix of fashion and function and the abundance of materials to create new ideas and concepts.

Josie Natori, who exhibited the Natori and Josie collections, said, "Animal, animal and more animal prints were a big idea at the Interfilière. The color gray was very strong. And we'll be using the new DowXLA fabric which is wonderful." DowXLA is a stretch microfiber that wraps the body in gentle support with a soft, nonsnap stretch.

Gwen Widell, senior vice president of merchandising and design at Wacoal America, the U.S. unit of Wacoal Japan, noted, "I really loved the beautiful mixes of accessories with lingerie. It looked very fresh and new."

Overall attendance at the fair was off by around 1,600 compared with a year ago, totaling 17,404 retailers, distributors and sales representatives, but the number of exhibiting lingerie and beachwear brands remained almost flat, 519 against 530 labels in 2006. There were 5,943 French visitors, reflecting the appetite for lingerie in France, which generated sales of 2.53 billion euros, or around $2.02 billion in 2006.

This year's edition was different because of the myriad creative venues in both the lingerie and textile forums and displays that focused on summer 2008 for intimates and swimwear, and fall-winter 2008-2009 for fabrics and laces. The melding of seasons and product was the brainchild of Eurovet's chief executive officer Marie-Laure Bellon-Homps and her team, and generated increased interest in two additional areas: the Interfilière segment, which this year was dedicated to colorful, whimsical and ornate embroideries, appliqués, laces and seamless microfibers that can be used in a variety of mediums, and swimwear and beachwear-related items.

David R. Trerotola, pres­ident of global apparel at Invista Inc., said his company expanded four initiatives in Lyon: the Lycra Xtra Fine Collection, which offers sheer, featherweight warp and circular knits ideal for second-skin shapers; Lycra spaFX, an extension of Invista's micro-encapsulation technology with scents including vanilla, sea kelp and glacier; Lycra freshFX Fabric Technology, which keeps the wearer cool and dry, and New Black Xtra Life Lycra fabric. The Xtra Life fabric was introduced in 2005 as a chlorine- and UV rays-resistant fabric for colored swimwear, and has since been expanded to provide excellent color uniformity in fashion shades. It can be rendered in marled effects and is resistant to unsaturated fatty acids like sweat and suntan lotion."I'm pretty excited about our spa effects based on well-being, such as the fresh aloe vera scent offered in socks, and very subtle scents like lavender and peppermint," Trerotola said. He added that one area the company is exploring is the compatibility of the Lycra Xtra Fine Collection with a range of eco-friendly yarns including organic cotton, jute, bamboo, hemp and soy.

Ria Stern, global brand and marketing director for North America at Hyosung America Inc., said reaction was strong to Creora Comfort, the fiber company's latest introduction.

"We focused on three areas, beginning with Creora Comfort, which had great reaction and offers softness, aesthetic performance and a more comfortable fit; our eco-friendly fabrics by Creora, which continue to grow in popularity, and a partnership with DuPont Imaging Technologies to create more decorative fabrics in lingerie and more sophisticated swimwear prints," said Stern.

Stern noted the partnership will address the "market need for quicker response and custom design in shorter runs."

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