By  on December 12, 2005

PARIS — Developing brand identity and positioning lingerie as an integral part of fashionable women's wardrobes will be the focus of Salon International de la Lingerie, set to run at the Porte de Versailles here Feb. 2-5.

"We're emphasizing the need for brands to work [on their] identity," said Chantal Malingrey, SIL's manager. "Our message centers on the fact that lingerie is part of the fashion world, with prêt-à-porter taking inspiration from lingerie and vice versa."

Some 20,000 visitors are expected at the event, with preregistration numbers indicating strong retailer attendance from the U.S. and Canada, as well as the Middle East.

"More and more women in the Middle East are opening boutiques, so there is a lot of action in that sector," said Malingrey.

As for exhibitors, French, Italian and British vendors top the list.

To facilitate buyers' visits, the 570 innerwear brands to be exhibited will be grouped in clearly named sections. Areas will be dubbed, for example, Eternity for traditional corsetry houses or Icon for fashion brands.

Some 90 newcomers are expected this year, including Fruit of the Loom, Josie, Viktor & Rolf and Gianfranco Ferré.

Meanwhile, the Interfilière section, set to run Feb. 2-4 in Hall 1, will split its 230 exhibitors into four categories: Lace It for lace, Brod'Cust for embroidery and customization, Access Folies for fittings and accessories and Neoskin for prints, knits and woven textiles.

SIL's trend forum will be arranged like a mini village, with four houses decorated with themes such as Candy Cottage for youth market trends and Love Nest for bodywear and loungewear.

"We want to give merchandising inspiration to brands and encourage them to attach their identity to a universe," said Malingrey, who also has lined up conferences on Russia as a new market and China, with a focus on that market's sociological factors.

Other highlights will include a bigger catwalk podium with personalized revolving themed sets in Hall 2. For the first time, 30 brands from the men's innerwear section, a continuing major growth area for the salon, will open the show. A separate show dedicated to the Best of Italian Brands also will convene.An influx of newcomers is expected to pump new blood into Spicy Garden, the young designer section, including Nuance from Russia and Nafytoo and Sensations Exotiques from Senegal.

"The new players are into decorative lingerie that dares to break away from the rules," said the salon's trend consultant, Jos Berry.

She was referring to brands in mix-and-match categories such as corsetry that coordinates with loungewear.

"It's no longer about the mono product," Berry said. "Today's young customers are extremely demanding, and brands have to work hard to catch their attention."

Eight newcomers, including China's Top Fun Embroidery & Thread Co. and France's Lunas, have registered for the Interfilière hall. The show will feature an "explosion of innovative, natural fabric developments which use, for example, algae and wood pulp fiber.

"It's new for the lingerie sector to invest so much research into ecologically sound fabrics geared at comfort and well-being," said Berry, adding that the variety of cottons on display will be a strong point of the textiles hall. "There are big technical developments to produce fibers made from natural ingredients that contain all the properties necessary for modern living. Interfilière and SIL trend topics will include five key elements that retailers seek from brands today."

These include the "Ero chic" genre, the tongue-and-cheek touch of spice added by designers such as Sonia Rykiel, or pretty-chic styles with folkloric finishings, she said.

Mini conferences will touch on subjects such as colorfastening techniques and nanotechnology.

Christel Cussac, brand manager for Italian brand Ratti, which owns Desti and the Leonard's lingerie license, as well as the Leonard Soleil, Gokan Kobo Beach and Chantal Thomass beachwear lines, said she's looking forward to SIL as a platform to reestablish contact with potential clients.

Sonya Menon, intimate apparel buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue, said, "We buy most of our product domestically, and we will just be going to get a feel for trends. If we see beautiful product, we'll negotiate, but we're still being careful in that respect."

Daniel Perret, chief executive officer of French brand Millesia, which owns the Nina Ricci lingerie license, plans to focus on savoir-faire and broaden product categories with Millesia's jewelry and bag lines. The company will also present the first line of men's innerwear by Millesia.Meanwhile, designer Sabrina Nadal has been busy stitching ballet shoes to accompany her tutu-inspired line, and designer Gentry Lane of Gentry de Paris will show mink-lined silk slippers to accompany her Châtelaine collection, which is inspired by mistresses of the manor.

Regarding other events at SIL, 50 one-of-a-kind creations resulting from a collaborative effort between textile manufacturers and designers will be presented to a jury and 800 industry VIPs for SIL's opening night Ultra-Lingerie fashion show. A cocktail party will follow, accompanied by a contemporary photography and art exhibition dubbed Art et Lingerie. There also will be a show of lingerie pieces that have been featured on the silver screen.

"The idea was set up to encourage companies to push their creative limits," said Malingrey. "It's fabulous to work these energies together."

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