Byline: Phyllis Macchioni

CERNOBBIO, Italy — Vibrant flower prints of all sizes, primarily on silk and silk blends, were a major trend at the recent Ideacomo textile show. Stripes also remained a theme at the exhibition of spring-summer 2003 fabrics, and mills continued to introduce new textured finishes.
Serikos and Menta showed sheer, lightweight flower-printed voile, which was lightly flocked with velvet and dyed in contrasting colors. Tessiture Meccaniche Seterie Giovanni Ones also showed flowers.
At Menta, designer Michele Tettamanti offered large silk panels of romantic blurry watercolor flowers in French Impressionist colors and transparent silk organza, which filtered light through crinkled surfaces. Buyers shopping the stand appeared to be more interested in somber colors and the geometrics and stripes Menta also offered.
Lanificio Quarona was at the opposite end of the colorful flower design spectrum.
“Most of our collection is typical of the solid, sober classic looks Biella mills is known for,” said designer Lara Armari. “Although for spring-summer 2003, we are offering more textured finishes for a slightly more modern look in order to meet the needs of a younger market.”
This month’s edition of Ideacomo, which ran March 6 to 9, was open to exhibitors from outside Italy, which included 20 French firms, three Swiss companies, two companies from Germany and one from Great Britain.
“We increased our exhibitor base by 23 percent this time,” said Beppe Pisani, president of Ideacomo.
Representatives from many of the major European design houses, including Chanel, Armani and Prada, were on hand, looking to fill in their lines and build on the latest trends coming out of the Milan runway shows.
However, given the sluggish luxury goods market, and the fear of getting stuck with unsold merchandise, buyers and designers appeared to be approaching the collections with caution.
Swiss apparel designer Cecelia Cassani complained about a widening division between what she called “commercial” fabrics and “designer” fabrics.
“Part of the problem we designers have is that many of the truly beautiful quality fabrics the Como mills are capable of producing are expensive,” she said. “Unless you are Valentino, there is a limit to what clients will spend.”
It was quality and creativity, not price, that was worrisome to Guido Borromeo, owner of the mill Manolo Borromeo.
“What I am concerned about is that we are losing our culture of quality,” he said. “Italian stylists seem to be getting lazier and looking more to do business than create fashion. On the other hand, I’ve been very impressed with the Belgian designers who have visited my stand. They are sharp and aggressive, and remind me of how the Italians were 20 years ago.”
Show participants continued to kick around the idea of scheduling all of Italy’s major textile shows in one week, rather than keeping them spread out a couple of months, as they are now. This is an idea that has been floating around for several years.
“If Moda In, Prato Expo, Ideabiella, Shirt Avenue and Ideacomo were held closer together, not only would it be an advantage for buyers, but an advantage for mills and fair organizers as well,” said Pisani.
Meanwhile, the Como silk district has been hit hard by the current economic downturn, and the changes that have taken place in the luxury market since Sept. 11 have added to the seriousness of the situation. District sales statistics for 2001, compiled by the Sistema Moda Italia, showed that while there was a 3 percent increase in sales last year, fabric production for women’s wear, which represents the greatest share of the district’s output, fell 3 percent.
Organizers said overall attendance was up 5 percent over last year’s spring edition.

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