Byline: Allegra Holch

NEW YORK — Colors will be warmer come spring ’98, while textures take on a homespun look.
That’s the forecast from the fashion experts at Cotton Incorporated, who will be making presentations on the season by appointment from Dec. 2 to 13.
“We’re moving from a cool palette to a warm one. We do have darks, but they’re dispersed,” said Suzanne Achtemeier, Cotton Inc.’s director of fashion marketing for apparel, previewing her color presentation for the media.
“Color mixing is a major message,” she noted, both in tonalities and combinations of contrasting hues.
Discussing fabric and texture trends, Molly Vanden Bosch, manager of fashion marketing for apparel, focused on such looks as dobbies and honeycombs.
She noted that the high shine of the polyurethane-coated fabrics will give way to a matte finish or a textured approach.
Achtemeier presented five specific color groups that should lead the way in spring ’98: Ruins, Spa, Reef, Cafe and Poolside.
Poolside revolves around “refreshing brights inspired by lounge chairs and beach balls,” said Achtemeier. The palette includes shades of blue, acidic green, bright pink and peachy orange. Achtemeier suggested these colors would work well in prints, such as cabana stripes, and in such activewear fabrics as mesh, terry, net and other loosely woven knits.
Spa gets its inspiration from “mineral baths and a more relaxed lifestyle,” said Achtemeier. The palette’s strongest colors are blue tones, she said, adding that mixing different levels, casts and hues was important.
Reef brings to mind tropical fish, seaweed and coral reefs. Warm reds with peachy tones and clean, cool greens — “as opposed to the murky greens of last season” — and silt, a mother-of-pearl gray with a touch of iridescence, round out the palette.
Ruins is about “bringing the old into the new,” said Achtemeier. In women’s wear, gold-cast colors will be important, along with cyprus, which Achtemeier describes as “a new brown — less red than in past seasons,” and sophisticated yellow-cast greens. Another key shade in this group is a blue-gray that she suggested would work well for knits and bottom-weight fabrics.
Cafe is what Achtemeier calls a “lifestyle” color range. This palette centers around shades of brown inspired by coffee and coffee bars, and tinted, chalky colors reminiscent of sugar. A set of “new neutrals” includes shades of milk; tea; cafe au lait; mocha, a golden brown, and zest, a bright yellow. “It’s our only yellow for the season,” said Achtemeier.
Vanden Bosch presented five themes for fabrics and textures: Poetry, Beyond the Blues, Pure-n-Simple, The Next Wave and Hi-Energy, which she illustrated with concept fabrics, and swatches taken from garments purchased in Europe.
Poetry is about very “fluid, languid and lightweight” fabrics, said Vanden Bosch, mixed with heavier damasks, brocades and summer velvets. Oriental motifs, tattoos and tribal designs on sheer fabrications will highlight prints.
Beyond the Blues involves trends in the denim market. “This season, jeans are very dark, unwashed and stiff,” said Vanden Bosch, but for spring/ summer ’98, they will be very light. Texture will play a starring role, in honeycomb, dobbie, basket and twill weaves. New styling touches are what will hook the consumer, from lace-up details to reflective tape trims.
Pure-n-Simple is a rustic story with a homespun, hand-worked feel to the fabric. Print and pattern will be important; simple checks, plaids and French country florals.
The Next Wave relies on fun, funky styling. Optic, graphic prints with three-dimensional effects and puff printing techniques will be important. On the knit front, multicolored Missoni-inspired knits, designs such as wavy lines reminiscent of radio frequency waves and lots of textured effects such as puckering and seed stitch looks were some key ideas.
Hi-Energy highlights cottons with a “competitive edge” — but not just for athletic wear, said Vanden Bosch, noting sports have been a major inspiration in fashion recently. She cited shaggy, loose knitted fabrics; terry; heathered effects; waffle weaves, and rip-stop nylons as key trends, along with polyurethane-coated ridged and textured fabrics with a matte aspect rather than high shine.