SUPIMA 2018Hôtel de Talleyrand Le 30 septembre 2018© Julio Piatti

COTTON GETS A BOOST: Cotton might be seen by many as the humblest of fabrics, but Supima succeeded in elevating the material with its Supima Design Lab event in Paris Sunday evening.

Held at the Hôtel de Talleyrand, the event showcased designs created by winners of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, others made by more established designers, and looks from laureates of the organization’s U.S. program. These were presented in a series of opulent salons overlooking the Place de la Concorde after guests had worked their way past a cascade of cotton flowers and up the staircase through an artistic installation representing cotton transformation.

“You all have truly worked magic with the fabrics we have given you and we are very grateful,” said Supima vice president of marketing and promotions Buxton Midyette, addressing the designers among the crowd that had gathered at what is set to become an annual event.

“As a designer coming from India, we use cotton the most; cotton is a staple textile,” said Rahul Mishra, one of the designers involved. “When a baby is born, you drape him in cotton, last thing, you have cotton fabric which [shrouds] bodies, so for me, cotton is pure, natural, gifted by God.”

Mishra used a lot of cotton in his spring 2019 collection, which showed on Saturday, and has been initiating projects with communities in India to allow them to work on the fabric from their homes. “When I go to a small craftsman’s place, give them work, and empower them, that’s the most amazing thing fashion can do,” he said.

The fabric is a less common register for Léonard’s Christine Phung, another of the participating designers. “It was really interesting because we don’t often work with cotton in our first line,” she explained.

“It was good timing because the collection I am presenting tomorrow has a safari theme, so I had the idea to do a safari shirt, we printed it with a classic Leonard floral pattern in saffron colors.”

Phung, just back from maternity leave after giving birth to her first child two months ago, created two looks from Supima cotton — one for the installation, another for the runway. “It was extra work, but better not to take any risks,” she said.

Canadian designer Marie-Ève Lecavalier, who won the Chloé Prize this year at Hyères, had created a giant white shirt with handmade mirrored glass buttons for her part in the installation.

“I just wanted to show the beauty of something actually simple, and not push it too much, just feel the quality of the cotton,” she said. “Shirts are one of the main things that I like to work in my own collections,” added the Canadian designer, whose eponymous collection will hit stores for the first time in January.

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