FLOWERY SUMMER ’98

Byline: Allegra Holch

NEW YORK — It was florals and more florals at the summer ’98 edition of Inprints NY.
The show, which featured original artwork for prints from 15 exhibitors representing 38 studios, ended its three-day run at Arno Restaurant last Thursday.
The floral ideas turned up in a variety of incarnations: romantic, exotic, and hand-painted. Subtle was the key word when it came to ethnic prints with hints of African, Moroccan or Asian influences. The color palette also veered toward the subtle side, with dark vegetable, earth and spice colors offset by whitened brights such as lilac, violet and teal. “The florals really caught my eye,” said Carlos Saavedra, designer for the scarf firm Collection XIIX. “They have a hand-painted feeling with a lot of transparency, and I liked a lot of the ombre grounds — those looked fresh to me. I also saw a lot of stripes in bias and horizontal looks — again with a hand-painted, irregular feeling.”
In terms of colors, Saavedra said, “What looked really fresh were the cool shades of blue, from aqua to cobalt to teal.”
“The watercolor style florals on tinted grounds seemed to be a major direction,” said Barbara Simmons, vice president, textile design, for the Lizwear division of Liz Claiborne. “I saw some really beautiful watercolor techniques.
“There was also a tremendous amount of hand-painted stripes and plaids, and I liked a lot of the sophisticated Asian or chinoiserie feeling,” Simmons said. “The ethnic motif is important, but it’s very sophisticated.
“In general, most of the motifs, from floral to Oriental, were executed in beautiful, simple ways — not at all costumey.”
Judith Ringlet, designer for the sweater collection Lauren Hansen, was also inspired by the Asian and ethnic influences.
“One of the major trends seems to be the whole Oriental influence with the leaves and bamboo prints in safari colors,” she said. “I also liked a lot of the ombre effects, and lots of the stripes in beautiful color mixtures. I noticed a trend toward corals and reds, and also a lot of chino and green color combinations.”
Exhibitors were generally pleased with the flow of traffic, some noting that if the pace seemed not as active compared with the January edition, it was to be expected. This show aims to give customers — many of whom made the trip to Europe for print buying — a follow-up to the spring/summer season.
“It’s been a little slow,” said Gretta Lee, sales manager for Groot & Co. Designs, “but that’s because it’s the second show of the season. We’ve still seen many of our local customers, for example, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lerners, Talbots and Donnkenny.”
In terms of trends, Lee said, “The most interesting trend is the Oriental or Chinese look done in both obvious and subtle ways, although the subtle styles are selling best.” Following close behind in popularity, she said, were ethnic looks. “The leading look in ethnics is the paisley print. Paisley is no longer just for winter,” said Lee. “And romantic florals and anything that goes with khaki have been sensational.”
At European Textile Collection, Julianne Parsons, sales director, said, “Everyone wants romantic florals. We’ve also been doing well with Indochine and Moroccan-inspired ethnics, and for the junior market, whimsical florals and conversationals.”
Colors, said Parsons, were primarily dark. “There’s a direction toward dark, spicy colors for summer,” she said.
Subtle tropical prints were getting attention at Tanuki Studio. “We’ve been getting an incredible reaction to our tropicals, but not the classic Hawaiian looks one might expect. This season, they’re much more sophisticated,” said Javier Peral, sales and marketing representative. He also noted an interest in the firm’s leaf and bamboo motifs.
Tropicals, geometrics, and Asian looks were doing well at Design Works International, but in very subtle renderings.
“We’re doing well with watercolor-style tropical florals that aren’t as obvious as usual,” said Shari Tanaka, design director. “The color and technique are important. Everyone is asking for new versions of geometrics. They want them softened and more feminine — not so strong as they were last year. And people are still looking for things with an Oriental flavor, but again, not so obvious.”
At The Colorfield, traffic was “slow but steady,” said Adam Read, design director. “People are buying,” added Guy Hinson, co-owner, “and we’ve seen quite a few new customers.”
Florals in “washed out, watercolor renderings” were getting attention along with Asian and ethnic-inspired looks, said Read. In terms of color, “There is not much demand for brights this season,” said Read.
“Instead, midtones and dark grounds in rich, ethnic colors are what’s getting attention,” he said, pointing out a palm leaf design on a dark brown ground. “Stripes done in a loose hand, in a soft, sophisticated, dusty palette have also been doing well,” he said.
“I think the key words for the season are feminine and sophisticated,” said Debbie Taylor, design director for London Portfolio. “People have been picking up on romantic florals and the Far Eastern look in both obvious and subtle styles.”

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