By  on September 27, 2005

PARIS — There was a little of everything for buyers at Première Vision, which ended its four-day run on Friday.

After seasons of showing definitive trends, exhibitors at the fair concentrated on looks that many said were a transition between the overly decorated looks from the last few seasons and the more minimalistic feeling that is again taking over fashion. There was also less color. Black and winter white were strong, as was ink blue and deep purple. Accent tones included red, yellow and green.

"There's definitely a different mood here compared to last season," said Hervé Pierre, creative director at Carolina Herrera. "It's calmer, both in terms of color and decoration."

There were fabrics that look ornate up close, but from far away appear more subdued, he said.

"Everything is definitely more toned down," Pierre said.

Designer Peter Som said, "What I'm finding most different about this season is that novelty is much more about technique than color."

Tonal looks, especially black on black and white on white, were shown at many mills as a way to include decoration, while still catering to the newer, more subtle aesthetic. (See page 17 for examples of the trend.)

At Luigi Verga, a silk and wool jacquard featured navy as its base and a slightly deeper ink blue on the surface treatment. Luigi Boggio Casero's tonal looks included one in deep purple and black on wool.

"We're focusing on the weave this season, trying to create things that move and reflect light," said president Eugenio Boggio Casero.

Even Jakob Schlaepfer, a Swiss couture mill known for its over-the-top creations, showed simpler looks.

"This is very subtle for Jakob Schlaepfer," said Shkendie Kaziu, president of the mill's U.S. division, holding a softly embroidered wool. "This calmer, more simple move is something that's new for us. Even the metallics are toned down."

"Less bling is definitely in the cards right now," added Lionel Monjo, general manager of Alphalace, where fabric was used to decorate much of the lace, in place of sequins and beading.Lightweight was another buzzword. Som said, "Lighter fabrics have definitely become more important. It's almost like thinking in terms of spring and just adding furs and coats."

Some mills, such as Jackytex and Marioboselli, responded with a selection of lighter-weight jerseys.

"We have cashmere jerseys that are feather light," said Piero Giachi, owner of Jackytex.

Reggiani, an Italian stretch mill, also featured lighter looks in both wool flannel and cotton-blended thin-wale corduroy.

"More and more customers want suiting that is light," said Giovanni Reggiani, co-owner and creative director. "We did flannel with a more modern approach this season — something that is fluid and soft."

His sister, Elena, a co-owner, added, "The corduroy has a silk touch, perfect for a new-style tuxedo."

For some designers, however, there weren't enough lightweight looks from which to choose.

"The stores keep asking us for more lightweight things and I'm not seeing as much as I would like here," said Dominic Sabella, design director for David Meister sportswear. "Everything feels really heavy, scratchy and stiff."

Sabella said he is pulling from spring lines instead and recoloring them, which he said, "creates a lot more work for all of us."

Others were having more luck. Robert Geller, designer of the new line Harold, found lightweight jerseys that use soybean fibers at Toki, a Japanese mill, and lightweight double-faced looks in cotton and wool at another, Chigasaki.

"Japanese fabrics have an aesthetic to them that I really appreciate," Geller said. "They're expensive, but so worth it."

Geller plans to mix these looks with other elements, such as lamé and lace, for his fall collection.

Meanwhile, there were some designers that were less concerned about fabric weight.

"Who cares?" said Bryan Bradley of Tuleh, thumbing through his picks at Luigi Verga, where many of the fabrics were hefty. "If it's beautiful and appeals to me, I order it."

The Fiber Price Sheet
The last Tuesday of every month, WWD publishes the current, month-ago and year-ago fiber prices. Prices listed reflect the cost of one pound of fiber or, in the case of crude oil, one barrel.
FiberPrice on 9/26/05*Price on 8/29/05Price on 9/27/04
Cotton49.35 cents53.03 cents48.81 cents
Wool $2.38$2.39$2.48
Polyester staple69 cents69 cents60 cents
Polyester filament 72 cents 72 cents 60 cents
August Synthetic PPI112.9 112.3 106.6
Crude Oil$64.19 $66.13 $48.88
*The current cotton price is the August average on fiber being delivered to Southeastern region mills, according to Agricultural Marketing Services/USDA. The wool price is based on the average price for the week ended Sept. 23 of 11 different thicknesses of fiber, ranging from 15 microns to 30 microns, according to The Woolmark Co. Information on polyester pricing is provided by the consulting firm DeWitt & Co. The synthetic-fiber producer index, or PPI, is compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and reflects the overall change in all synthetic-fiber prices. It is not a price in dollars but a measurement of how prices have changed since 1982, which had a PPI of 100. Oil prices reflect last week's closing price on the New York Mercantile Exchange of future contracts for light, sweet crude oil to be delivered next month.

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