NEW YORK — Linen is experiencing a metamorphosis.

This story first appeared in the July 6, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“It’s moving on from masculine dandy elegance in the shape of delightful white panamas to feminine romance,” said Ornella Bignami, a Milan-based trend consultant who recently presented spring-summer 2005 trends for Masters of Linen, here. “The new feel is inspired by precious trousseaux, not forgetting a wink at the rustic sophistication of crumpled ecru linens. All this leads to a form of elegance that closely mimics silk’s sheen, fluidity, interplay of light and reflections, all the while remaining chipper.”

At the presentation, Bignami highlighted the four moods that illustrate the season: Light, Shadow, Hot and Cool.

Light featured delicate pastels. Yarns are fine and often have a sheen or are mixed with glossy rayon or nylon. Textures are the opposite of smooth, with minimalistic pleats, subtle wavy or pressed surfaces, and barely there cloqué effects. Fabrics include stripes on fine linens and gauze and transparent looks with devoré effects, while chintzed, iridescent and metallic coatings are featured on many looks.

Shadow’s palette shows powdery neutrals accented with slate gray. Yarns for this group are uneven and slubbed — blends include linen and cotton, and linen and silk. Alternating yarn counts give organic textures such as veins and splashes to some of the fabrics. Surface interest in Shadow is also uneven — stripes are varied and motifs are highly graphic. Heavier fabrics are also seen in this group, all with a dry hand. Linen and raw silk blends are an example, many of which are heavily washed and feature superficial or patchy brushing.

Warm, spicy tones mixed with sepia and sandy neutrals are at the center of Hot. Yarns are linear and include tangled ribbons in linen and cotton, well-suited for hand knitting, according to Bignami. Stripes are key as well, with everything from pinstripes to deck chair stripes. A Mexican feel also prevails, with plaited fabrics, textured and double-faced jerseys, embroidered cloths and coppery coatings on classic linen.

Green dominates the Cool group, with tones that veer toward blue, purple, gold and khaki. Yarns are fluid and slippery — examples include linen mixed with nylon or rayon — that make for silky fabrics, many of which feature a metallic sheen. Textures on these fabrics include multicolored micro-stripes, devoré and crêpe. Coatings, meanwhile, are inspired by plant life in the sea and mimic gel.