Byline: Alessandra Ilari

CERNOBBIO, Italy — Long live the print! That was the rallying cry from Italian mills showcasing their spring and summer 2001 collections at the Ideacomo fabric fair.
The small but upscale exhibition was ablaze with designs, either printed or woven, usually on silk. There were checks — from baby vichys to tablecloth squares — stripes, florals and geometrics in a lively color palette of sun-drenched tones and washed-down pastels.
Ideacomo, held at the Villa Erba exhibition hall on the shores of Lake Como, ended its three-day run March 31.
“Prints have exploded,” said Federico Boselli, chief executive officer at Marioboselli Jersey. “For the past two or three years, it was all about glitter, Lurex and devore effects. Now, prints are taking over.”
Rino Miste, ceo at Ramis, also lauded prints and designs.
“The resurfacing of the print has helped stir things up again,” he said. “Clients want unique, different fabrics these days.”
Indeed, the fact that in recent seasons the runways teemed with prints, fostered by big-league designers such as Versace, Gucci and Prada, has reawakened the market’s demands for designs and patterns.
But the priority for many designers remains exclusive patterns. So, while mill executives concurred that a presence at international fabric fairs is important for image and public relations, the bulk of the production is developed later in the season, when the rally to produce personalized designer collections begins.
“Fairs are important for image, but it’s only a moment to show clients our vast collection, which includes more than 300 looks,” said Lorella Manzo, chief designer at Braghenti. “The real work gets done afterwards, when the exclusive fever starts.”
Putting down rumors that this was Ideacomo’s last season, Giuseppe Pisani, managing director of the Serikos mill and president of Ideacomo, described a positive scenario — overall attendance was up 17 percent compared with last year, and 468 companies sent buyers to the fair.
“We have had an increase of international exhibitors and more requests from mills from Biella to show here,” said Pisani. “Designers who come to Ideacomo are very focused because they’ve had time to filter all the ideas they gathered at other fairs. I’ve noticed that at Ideacomo, designers immediately chose certain looks that they hadn’t taken into consideration at Premiere Vision.”
On the business front, all is fairly quiet. Most mill executives expect 2000 sales to range from flat to increases of 10 to 15 percent. Many agreed that the current boom in accessories had distracted consumers’ attention from clothes, forcing many mills to start considering accessories producers that employ fabrics in their creations as alternative customers.
“Many of our ready-to-wear clients already use our fabrics for their accessories. It’s a great way to diversify, because today it’s important not to fossilize,” said Michele Canepa, owner of Taroni.
The U.S continues to be the most effervescent market for Italian textile mills and is a boost to European and Far Eastern textile industries, as well.
The consensus was that the market is veering away from techno-maniato favor such natural fibers as silks, cottons and linens, sometimes blended with nylon or polyester for a little bit of shine or easy care.
“We’ve noticed that the interest for high tech fabrics is waning,” said Miste of Ramis.
Marioboselli Jersey offered brash Seventies prints, a la Pucci, in liquid nylon, acetate and viscose blends. Boselli noted that prints require a significantly longer product development cycle than solid fabrics.
“One print includes a variety of designs and colors that have to work very well together,” said Boselli, “a process that often takes a lot of time, because a print on paper doesn’t have the same effect that it has on fabric.”
At Braghenti, the bestsellers were an array of checks in cotton blended with nylon for a shiny effect and crisp hand. Also popular was a silk taffeta version in sugary pastels because, according to Manzo, consumers are avoiding techno fabrics unless the approach is refined and high end.
Manzo said the yarn-dyed, lightweight linens in watercolors and linen-and-silk blends with micro-herringbone or checkered weaves for blazer, were also popular among Braghenti’s clientele.
At Taroni, big and small checks in pink, lilac and lavender silk created a spring feast. When it wasn’t checks, it was polkadots and stripes in silk faille that got the nod among buyers, said Canepa.
“We favor quality over quantity,” Canepa said, “and now is a big moment for silk, which is our strong point.”
Also popular were silk satins available in 60 colors, from lacquer red to emerald green and pearl gray.
Lanificio Boggio Casero, a mill specializing in classic, high-end wovens, added surface interest with armure effects to wool and nylon or viscose and cotton blends. On a more fashion-forward note, there were blue and beige stripes in cotton and nylon blends that could be complemented with classic-looking double-faced wools.