Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — DuPont is taking a broader and more provocative approach to the marketing and merchandising of a new generation of microfibers, such as Tactel nylon, Lycra spandex and Lycra Soft, as well as an unprecedented number of concept pieces aimed at consumers worldwide.
The idea, said Iris LeBron, DuPont’s fashion director of intimate apparel, activewear and swimwear, is to address a diverse consumer base that has become far more independent, sophisticated and savvy over the past couple of years.
Armed with an annual budget of $80 million for research and development, DuPont’s Apparel & Textile Sciences division is making a big push for Lycra Soft, which gives a desired level of support, yet moves with the body in a comfortable, less constrictive fashion than traditional Lycra.
“We’ve accomplished a lot with Lycra Soft in Asia, Europe and South America. Now, we are hoping to promote it much more in America,” said LeBron, showing a display of bodysuits by upscale Italian maker La Perla. “In addition to La Perla, other big names will soon be jumping in the Lycra Soft campaign. Lycra Soft already is going into activewear and swimwear in a big way.”
Meanwhile, LeBron opened what she called a “seasonless” intimate apparel workshop here at the DuPont offices at 1430 Broadway, which runs through Nov. 30. It is by invitation to retailers, mills, manufacturers, designers and the media.
Entitled “From Imagination to Innovation,” the seminar focused on three themes: “Upper Class,” which reflects a sophisticated, polished woman; “Divine Dancers,” which depicts lots of sex appeal and a sensual softness of romance; and “Fashion Surfer” — a potpourri of funky ideas geared to what LeBron described as “the fashion rebel.”
The lion’s share of the presentation, which comprises some 90 percent of DuPont prototype designs, were inspired by intimate apparel collections unveiled at the spring-summer 2002 Lyon, Mode City trade fair in Lyon, France, in September, as well as concept pieces showcased at the first 7th on Sixth intimates show in New York.
The color palette of “Upper Class” — whose primary message was slick coatings and curvaceous and molded looks in pliable blends of Lycra and leather — was iridescent gold, platinum and copper. There also was a plethora of shimmery mauve, turquoise and blues tones that prevailed in daywear and foundations, as well as sleepwear.
“Divine Dancers” did its gig in warm tones of berry, coral, soft plum, lavender and lime. The color story covered a range of oversized cabbage-rose florals and stretch tulles embellished with crystals, to seamless cami sets in engineered patterns. The baby doll is a top item.
“The seamless bra in Lycra Soft is perfect for that invisible look a woman wants underneath her clothing,” said LeBron, noting that “smooth simplicity” is a strong component of this theme.
Then there’s “Fashion Surfer,” an irreverent melange of patterns, colors and fabrics, including layerings of red fishnet over nude or black grounds; Sixties-inspired, Pop Art-printed side panels on shapers, and lots of burnout and embroidered treatments. Key colors: magenta, poppy red, bright lemon and pink.
Asked which theme was her favorite, LeBron — who often follows her own dress code in minimalistic layers of black microfiber and leather — replied: “For the type of garments I like, it’s got to be ‘Fashion Surfer.’ But overall, I really like ‘Divine Dancers, because it’s so soft, elegant and sexy looking. Regarding the color palette, I prefer the sleek metallics of ‘Upper Class.”‘