Byline: Alessandra Ilari

CERNOBBIO, Italy — Silk shantung, a hit of the current spring season, took the spotlight again for spring-summer 1997 at the latest edition of the Ideacomo fabric fair here.
Mills were showing shantung in a variety of colors and weights, including what appeared to be an emphasis on lighter weights for shirtings. As in the past several seasons, there was a strong emphasis on blends at this show, which has built its reputation on high-end printed silks. Natural fibers were mixed with other naturals and man-mades.
Well received in the print arena were updated versions of florals and stripes in soft and breezy colors; overall, the palette ranged from luminous solar tones to a rainbow of pastels and aquatic greens and blues.
Show organizers made an effort to make the three-day event, which ran through March 15, more exclusive and productive; there were 2,238 visitors representing 984 firms, compared with a year-earlier count of 2,286 visitors from 1,214 firms. A show spokeswoman said 600 names had been pared from invitation lists, and exhibitors issued no complaints about the cut.
A livelier topic was the tendency of the apparel firms to buy fabrics closer to the season.
Sergio Re, who’s responsible for coordinating the various divisions at Ratti, said, “Our clients choose the last possible moment to place final orders, when they feel more confident with the trends.”
This situation, noted Massimo Bianchi, co-owner at Terraneo, “gives us less time to produce and deliver.”
In view of this, many exhibitors favored the later date planned for the next Ideacomo, which will be Nov. 12-14, more than a month later than the traditional early October schedule.
“The current Ideacomo dates don’t make sense, but by November, people will come here after having seen all the previous shows, including PremiAre Vision, and will have a very clear idea of what they want. Furthermore, we have more time to update the collections,” said Re.
Marco Schiavone, commercial director at Braghenti, agreed. “Holding Ideacomo in November makes our sales period longer and helps our clients finalize their orders. Let’s say they choose a color that doesn’t sell in the precollection; in November, we can develop last-minute changes,” he said. “Ideacomo is a fair where actual business takes place.”
Jacopo Etro, head of Etro’s textile division, however, saw things differently. “We were the only mill to vote against the November dates because our U.S, German and Japanese clients have to place their orders before then, and secondly, they won’t make another overseas trip just to come to Ideacomo.”
Lambros Milona — a young designer from New York, who’s now based in Milan — also was unhappy with the new show dates.
“I really like coming to Ideacomo because it’s easy to work here but holding the fair in November means having no time to work on the collection,” he said.
Many mills’ positive results in 1995 lent a bright note to the proceedings. While some mills noted bookings had slackened for the upcoming fall, which is not Ideacomo’s strong season, business for last year was on the plus side, and exports were strong. In the first nine months of last year, worldwide exports of Italian silk rose 16 percent to $1.5 billion.
On the fashion front, Braghenti, concentrated its energy on new blends such as silk and polyester, and cotton mixed with polyester or nylon.
“There’s a strong demand for technical fabrics, so we decided to blend natural fibers with polyester to give the technical effect, while keeping a natural hand,” said Braghenti’s Schiavone.
Also new at the mill was a variety of wools, silks and linens, all in coordinated colors and patterns.
At Terraneo, the news was in a more structured version of shantung in a silk and cotton mix. “For us, sheer fabrics are still popular, but only in structured and dry hands, nothing slouchy,” said Massimo Bianchi.
Small floral or daisy designs on sun-bright yellow silks were top sellers at Cugnasca, a division of Mantero.
“A striped cotton and silk shantung was also popular,” said Nicoletta Caresani, export manager of Cugnasca.
Ratti banked on a stretch silk and Lycra-blend satin with fish prints on a turquoise background and with oversized tulip prints on cotton satin. A lightweight silk shantung for shirts performed, and on a younger level, the optical printed cottons in vivid purples, yellows and oranges got the nod from buyers.
Etro offered African-look with modern-version Batik prints in browns and mustard yellows.
“Our clients also liked the small patterns, inspired by men’s neckwear in deep browns and cream,” said Jacopo Etro. The mill offered an updated version of prints with a Pucci look in delicate pastels.

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