Byline: Phyllis Macchioni

MILAN — Natural fibers were the primary medium at Moda In, with Italian mills showing blends of silk, linen and cotton with rayon, hemp and some high tech fibers for the spring-summer 2002 season.
“This year the collections are the best I’ve ever seen, which tells me textile producers are putting more of an effort into developing the fashion aspects of textiles,” said Leopoldo Della Porta, president of Si. Tex, the fair organizer. Indeed, the 570 exhibitors at the event, which wrapped up its three-day run in Milan on Feb. 14, offered a particularly wide variety of color and finishes this season.
Riccardo Cardascia, chief fabric designer for Luigi Botto, said he believes the three most important themes for spring-summer 2002 are luxury, rustic and soft. He included all three in the company’s new collection of butter-soft jerseys. Blends including silk, rayon, cotton or linen resulted in finishes that look textured but were silky smooth. Printed jerseys boasted small black-and-white houndstooth and bird’s-eye checks.
Etro offered a collection of gossamer silk. The Como-based fabric company showed a variety of prints, including tropical palms, shaded orchids, pale gardenias and hot poppies on backgrounds of greens, blues and brown. The same flowerlike colors were also transformed into panels of washed water colors that conjured up images of the Far East. What wasn’t flowered was striped or checked.
In linens, Solbiati chose to focus on its extensive color palette, exhibiting 300 shades of solid colors, although the company also produces a wide range of plaids and prints.
According to owner Vittorio Solbiati, linen represents 85 percent of the mill’s fabric output. The company, which has been around since 1864, has approximately 100 clients in the U.S., its biggest export market.
“Our American clients seem to have moved away from the techno-boom that was so popular a few years back, which makes us happy since we’ve always produced natural fiber fabrics,” Solbiati said.
Luxury and natural fibers were also important at Paolo Gilli. Owner Roberto Federici said his company has concentrated on improving the quality of its product instead of creating new fabrics. It continued to show fashion features like metallic fibers, but instead of the glimmery finishes of the past, the mill created fabrics with a quiet, iridescent quality rather than a definite shine.
With fashion trends moving toward a revival in the blouse and shirt sector, Paolo Gilli was focusing on superfine cotton organza and cotton poplin, as well as silk shantung. The mill also offered a silk-and-pineapple shantung fiber in hot Indian colors of saffron and burnt orange.
Still riding the techno-wagon is Clerprem, which offered a new line of denims with strong stonewashed finishes and pleated pleather.
According to Della Porta of Si. Tex, there was a marked increase in Italian textile production during the first half of 2000. He said the sector saw a 7 percent rise in linen, a 5 percent increase in cotton, a 4.7 percent rise in wool and a 10 percent increase in silk. Della Porta added that the increases were due, in part, to a revival in the shirt and blouse sector and in sportswear, particularly denim.
Fair organizers said they were pleased with the 19 percent increase in foreign visitors and the 6 percent increase in the number of visitors from the U.S. Among the Americans present were Catherine Schepis, senior vice president of merchandising for the New York-based clothing company Doncaster, and Doncaster designer Susan Standen who said they were happy with the selections and special finishes they found.