PARIS — Lighten up.

That was the message from many of the exhibitors and attendees at last week’s Première Vision, where some of the most directional fabrics were much lighter in weight than in previous fall seasons. Designers said this was a result of requests from customers wanting more seasonless wardrobes.

“Lighter-weight fabrics are not only going to be key for the season — things that look like fall but feel lighter — but going forward, overall,” said Hervé Pierre Braillard, design director for Carolina Herrera. “Pre-fall gets delivered to stores in May, and women don’t shop the way they used to. They want things they can wear immediately.”

Braillard also noted that in addition to being more lightweight, fabrics were returning to a more minimalist feel.

“It’s not the minimalism from the early Nineties,” he said. “The fabrics are still decorative, but it’s more of a hidden luxury. Something more subtle.”

Others agreed the season would showcase lighter-weight looks.

“They look effortless, which is what we try to convey with our designs,” said Gilles Mendel, designer at J. Mendel.

He cited a boiled wool from Moessner that he would cut and sew on chiffon to give the traditional and rugged textile a more fragile and delicate look, as well as a thin, delicate silk jersey from Guigou he tagged “the new chiffon.”

Edward Wilkerson, design director at Lafayette 148, also felt a push away from heavier fare.

“I want fall clothes to look as light as spring clothes,” he said. Wilkerson counted a “rustic and refined mixture” as one of his biggest directions for fall 2005.

Novelties were by far the biggest news at the show, but with a more sophisticated bent. Gone were many of the multicolored and chunky tweeds, which were replaced with flatter, more lightweight and darker-toned looks.

At Italy’s FPR, a bouclé-like yarn gave a silk-blended ground a tweed effect, while at Linton Tweeds, an ink-blue and black tweed listed rayon as its first fiber content.

For designer Gilles Dufour, the “new” tweed was one that was not technically a tweed. “It only has the aspect of a tweed,” he said. “For instance, there are a lot of ones that look like knits but are in fact wovens.”

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