COLOR ENLIVENS PRINT SHOWS
Byline: Allegra Holch
NEW YORK — Print designers and art studios were in a bright mood at both the Atex Print Show and Inprints NY last week, reflecting much of the work on view.
The consensus at both shows, which featured original work for spring 1997’s printed fabrics, was that the season will see prints back in the spotlight after a long period in which solids and textures have reigned.
“I think that with the influx of color, it will be a good season for prints,” said Polly Ellerman, head color stylist of the wovens area for May Merchandising Corp., the merchandising arm of May Department Stores Co., while shopping the Inprints show. “The main thing that looks good is the play of color — not so subdued as in the past.”
About 600 people attended the four-day Inprints show running through Thursday at Arno’s Restaurant — a marginal decrease, according to show management, from just over 600 last season, while approximately 600 also attended the Atex show, which moved to a new location at 40 West 40th St. from its old stand at Parsons School of Design. The three-day show also wound up Thursday.
Traffic was generally rated good, and buying seemed active at a number of booths. Among the more enthusiastic was Daniel Sager, director of sales at Group Four Design Studio, showing at Inprints.
“We sold more artwork in the first couple of days than we have at past shows,” said Sager. “For instance, in the first day we sold 36 prints, whereas in other seasons that number would be stretched out over two days.
“Intense, bright color is important,” he said, noting that citrus was an important idea. “People are excited about brights.”
At both shows, brights were a major trend, showing up in tropical floral and citrus fruit prints. Florals looked new in painterly watercolor renderings with lots of ground space, and there was lots of interest in “denim-friendly” looks. Also, at the Atex show, high tech computer-generated designs had a futuristic appeal that stood out amid theromantic florals.
Among the buyers with color in mind was Maria Behnen, designer for I.B. Diffusion, a maker of knit and woven sportswear.
“I’m looking for something with lots of color,” she said. “I just bought some tropical brights from Avi Iny Designs [an Inprints exhibitor]. We always do well with graphic brights. I’m staying away from ethnic and going more toward contemporary graphic prints.”
Leslie Friesen, textile designer for the swimwear label Jantzen, liked the Hawaiian retro looks and the Havana-inspired prints at The Style Council, exhibiting at Atex.
“We’re buying softer, more feminine colors this season,” she said. “I’m also seeing lots of border florals and flowers with stems — not bouquets anymore.”
Despite her liking for the new uses of color, Ellerman of May expressed some disappointment in what she said was a dearth of new print motifs.
“The trends seem the same as last year,” she said. “There’s not much newness. About the only thing that looks new is a Havana/Ethnic coffee bean story. But I’ve found everything I was looking for.”
She cited Bette Goldstein, an Inprints exhibitor, as a studio always on her shopping list.
Among the 24 exhibitors showing at Atex, Roni Ryger, a sales representative at Bread & Butter Inc., said computer-generated designs were doing well — “especially for the activewear and swimwear markets. It’s that whole virtual reality feeling along with optical looks.”
At The Style Council, a “cyber group” of computer-inspired designs was doing well, according to sales representative Lisa Resnick.
“There’s also a strong feel for tropicals and Fifties and Sixties- inspired conversationals, like our Bardot print. People are having fun. It’s a colorful season, with lots of happy colors like orange and yellow.”
“Cyber style has taken time to hit commercial markets,” said Debra Hyde, artistic director for The Style Council. “But it’s very modern and quite futuristic.” Hyde also felt strongly about a “Havana”-inspired group in rich tobacco and coffee colors.
Tropicals topped the list of popular prints at Kaleidoscope Design Studio. “The number-one trend for us is tropical florals,” said Flavio Zanin, account executive. “Conversationals, like tropical fish and fruit prints, are also doing well.”
Conversationals were in demand at Southpaw International Design. “People always ask for conversationals,” said sales rep Nick Michael. “Beachy, holiday looks and fun things are doing really well. People are really into brights — monotones and sophisticated prints go over people’s heads.”
At Tom Cody Design, florals were doing well — especially Lily Pulitzer-style florals, said Tom Cody, owner. “It’s fresh and new — we’ve virtually sold out of it.”
“There’s also a new neutral story,” added Lucy Keeler, head of sales at Tom Cody. “It’s sort of inspired by Calvin Klein’s home furnishings, with blues and dusty pinks on white grounds.”
Amy Shure, owner of Designs for Shure, said florals were the biggest story. “Beautiful, glamorous florals are doing well,” she said. “Lilies, poppies and daisies, and very pretty, simple prints are also selling.” She also noticed a demand for shades of blue. “It seems to be a commercial thing because America is so denim-friendly,” she said.
At the Inprints show, housing 15 exhibitors, whimsical conversationals, oversized space florals rendered in watercolor style and anything in bright colors were in demand.
Color was going both ways at New York Textiles. “We’ve been selling washed-out colors and brights,” said Marisa Lumino, sales executive. “It depends on the market and the look.”
Lumino noted that “faded, weathered and softened denim-friendly” looks were active, along with “garden party looks” with fruits and flowers. A conversationals group inspired by the television show “Baywatch” was doing well with motifs like lifeguard stands and windsurfers.
Whimsical florals, along with bright stripes and splashy abstracts, were getting attention at Marilyn Kern Designs.
“There are a lot of black and white optical prints, and brights are doing better than pales,” said Cathy Leese, a sales representative for the firm. Florals with a watercolor effect and “humongous space florals” were selling well at Design Works International, according to Shari Tanaka, a sales representative. “We’re also doing well with soft, neutrals — almost not colored,” said Tanaka. “Very graphic florals in brights are also doing well.”
A departure from florals was evident at Marilyn Feldman Inc., featuring linear, calligraphic hand-drawing designs. “It’s a coming trend, and it’s selling well,” said owner Marilyn Feldman of the simple, graceful line drawings of a rider on a horse. “There’s also been a major response to whimsical conversationals and cartoony figures — loungewear buyers are responding to those,” she said.