By and  on February 17, 2009

PARIS — Bad weather, a struggling global economy and scheduling that bumped up against the beginning of New York Fashion Week cast a pall on the Première Vision and Texworld fabric fairs here last week.

Visitors attending Première Vision, which wrapped up its four-day run on Friday, were generally disappointed to find a lack of innovative, cutting-edge textiles for spring. Instead, designers and buyers said they found the dismal economic conditions had prompted mills to play it safe.

“It’s rather a boring season, but there’s lots of cloqué, which is very new,” said designer Walter Van Beirendonck.

“There’s nothing new, which is a drag, as that was already the case for fall,” said Jay Ahr’s Jonathan Riss, who disclosed he has just acquired a 300-year-old embroidery firm based in Beijing. “We’ll be focusing on accessories for next spring.”

Scandinavian designer Christina Ribel was frustrated that more effort hadn’t been made to flag eco-friendly fabrics.

“It’s surprising as even the car industry is onto that,” she said.

Closed airports due to extreme weather conditions affected traffic on the opening day, but more significantly, the event’s new earlier positioning, falling the same week as New York Fashion Week’s kickoff, added further turbulence to mills already negotiating rough waters.

“The timing of the show did not help and I heard that for September it’s going to be the same issue,” said Jacki Deena Tutelman-Bender, director of sales for Ratti USA. “It’s going to hurt the Americans.”

The mill showcased a colorful range of digitally printed couture fabrics, from overprinted to mottled silks.

“It’s a disaster,” said Adrian Wildhaber, head designer at Weisbrod Zürrer. “We’ve lost lots of U.S. clients who have fashion week next week. It’s also very early for the Chinese and Japanese.”

Key trends included a shift to cleaner, feminine fabrics, with a plethora of light and sheer textiles, as well as textured designs. The season’s ubiquitous flower story is still strong, notably in smudged prints. Important colors included effervescent pastels and brights, especially blues, oranges and greens. Several designers found it a confused season, however.

“There’s not a singular line,” said Floriana Zupardo, a fabric buyer for Prada Red Line, who lauded the ranges of Japanese mills Kuroki, Kurabo and Takihyo.

Sam Lambert, a designer for London’s Ozwald Boateng, approved the fair’s range of men’s suiting fabrics, notably a waterproof wool by Lometex. Lambert’s budget was up 10 percent.

“It’s an exciting time for men’s fabrics, though I’m picking things with a traditional touch,” he said.

Bestsellers at Kuroki included a cotton chino fabric with subtle tonal shifts on the weft and the warp, as well as a double-weave denim, featuring a white background with blue, black or brown weaves in front.

“You’ll see a lot of the major brands selling that next season,” said a mill spokesman.

Libby Gibsome, a researcher for London-based textiles consultancy Hodgesellers, noted lots of “humble” creased and worn fabrics with sand-washed and stonewashed finishes.

“Colors split into two stories: pure, eco-looking shades opposite strong statement colors such as peacock reds and peacock turquoises,” she said.

Though most designers claimed budgets were stable, mills spoke of customers squeezing prices.

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