Ratti print master at work.

PARIS — Proposing an edited selection of weavers, tanners and accessory manufacturers, and timed to coincide with the pre-collections calendar, Blossom Première Vision continues to benefit from its early bird positioning.

The niche salon, for its recent fourth edition, saw a 19 percent rise in visitors to 875 from brands including Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Christopher Kane and Berluti. Bulging at the seams at its two-story Palais Brongniart venue, the show, which also saw a 16 percent uptick in participants to 93 exhibitors, will move to the Carreau du Temple in the heart of the Marais district for its next edition in July.

Gilles Lasbordes, general manager of Première Vision Group, was in an optimistic mood coming off a “solid” year that “should carry us through to at least the first semester of 2018.”

New additions to the upcoming edition of the event’s mother salon Première Vision Paris in mid February will include a “village” dedicated to smart textiles and fashion tech and a fleet of new booths designed by Ora-ïto. Lasbordes at the event will also unveil the business concept behind a new digital platform designed to connect buyers with the group’s exhibitors and their collections, due to launch in 2018.

Designers at Blossom were after something with a point of difference.

Satoshi Kuwata, a designer at Golden Goose, was looking for fabrics with an artisanal twist. “Most customers are looking for personalized fabrics, they don’t expect to find normal things from brands like us because they can get that at H&M,” he said.

Estonian designer Marit Ilison, who designed the uniforms for the salon’s hostesses, said she was after “good open-minded producers” that are flexible, with the ability to produce smaller runs in a shorter lead times. “This is the key of the future.” The designer counts stockists from Canada to South Korea and has just launched on Matchesfashion.com.

Ratti for the event had set up a stand where visitors could make prints using traditional wood and copper plates with the help of a print master. Scottish cashmere specialist Alex Begg showcased a range of innovative new structures. “People love the story, all of our fabrics go through at least 20 processes and each has an element of hand. It’s all about that craftsmanship element that makes it really special,” said Chelsea Colman, an account executive at the mill. Faced with stiff competition from Italy, innovation is key to the company’s survival, she said.

Among designers lauding the show’s timing, Veronica Potocko, fabrics and trims manager at Stella McCartney, said the salon “lets us step back, discover new techniques and start off with fresh ideas.”

In terms of trends, Ariane Bigot, the fair’s deputy fashion director, pointed to a shift to “something more gentle,” delicacy and refinement.

“Since a few years now we’ve seen a focus on decorative opulence, with rich, theatrical, visual effects. Now it’s more refined, patterns can be more fragile and delicate, with plays on tone-on-tones and a feeling of freshness,” she said adding that blends continue to be big, and “increasingly refined.” A new direction is “precise irregularities” like slub yarns, or mixes of “new kinds of shine” like plastic or liquid effects mixed with natural fibers “that look but don’t feel vegetal.”

German designer Frauke Gembalies lauded the range of “joyful, playful fancies that will be important for the future.”

France’s Valentine Gauthier stopped at the floral printed silks by Achille Pinto.

Eve Corrigan, president of French tweed specialist Malhia Kent, said demand was strong for “fine fringe effects, plains, lingerie tones and playful jacquard knits.” Business on the whole is steady, she said, except for the U.S. which continues to be “ultra sluggish.”

Sofia Baghagha, director of sales at family-owned silk specialist Sfate & Combier, also one of France’s last remaining thread makers, said fine colored stripes were working well.

Showing for the first time, Italy’s Etique presented polyester fabric with the aspect of precious silk made from plastic bottles that have been broken down mechanically.

Founder Franco Clerici said that demand was still a bit slow but that brands are increasingly aware of the need to adapt to more sustainable sourcing. “Everybody is talking about it. After the recent The Green Carpet Fashion Awards in Milan we got a call from Giorgio Armani which has introduced a few items in their collection,” he said.

Even the show’s leather collections captured the shift to a softer mood, meanwhile, including Tanneries Roux which presented a collection of skins is degrade ice cream shades.

“We are trying more and more to work around a concept for the collection, like the fashion houses do, because we feel need to give coherence and a bit of a direction. Here we’re also trying to give some kind of atmosphere to what leather can be,” said Pauline-Joy Richard, creative lead for LVMH Métiers d’Art, who is on the firm’s team. Another range of skins had  cracked surfaces recalling eggshells.

“People see leather as boring old black or brown and we would like to change that perception. It’s just as versatile as textiles and can be even more so as it’s also a living material,” added Richard. “Not just for the fashion houses, but also the people who buy the bags, we want to give some awareness. We plan to work more and more with the houses around storytelling.”

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