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PARIS — Lighten up.

That was the message from many of the exhibitors and attendees at last week’s Première Vision, where some of the most directional fabrics were much lighter in weight than in previous fall seasons. Designers said this was a result of requests from customers wanting more seasonless wardrobes.

“Lighter-weight fabrics are not only going to be key for the season — things that look like fall but feel lighter — but going forward, overall,” said Hervé Pierre Braillard, design director for Carolina Herrera. “Pre-fall gets delivered to stores in May, and women don’t shop the way they used to. They want things they can wear immediately.”

Braillard also noted that in addition to being more lightweight, fabrics were returning to a more minimalist feel.

“It’s not the minimalism from the early Nineties,” he said. “The fabrics are still decorative, but it’s more of a hidden luxury. Something more subtle.”

Others agreed the season would showcase lighter-weight looks.

“They look effortless, which is what we try to convey with our designs,” said Gilles Mendel, designer at J. Mendel.

He cited a boiled wool from Moessner that he would cut and sew on chiffon to give the traditional and rugged textile a more fragile and delicate look, as well as a thin, delicate silk jersey from Guigou he tagged “the new chiffon.”

Edward Wilkerson, design director at Lafayette 148, also felt a push away from heavier fare.

“I want fall clothes to look as light as spring clothes,” he said. Wilkerson counted a “rustic and refined mixture” as one of his biggest directions for fall 2005.

Novelties were by far the biggest news at the show, but with a more sophisticated bent. Gone were many of the multicolored and chunky tweeds, which were replaced with flatter, more lightweight and darker-toned looks.

At Italy’s FPR, a bouclé-like yarn gave a silk-blended ground a tweed effect, while at Linton Tweeds, an ink-blue and black tweed listed rayon as its first fiber content.

For designer Gilles Dufour, the “new” tweed was one that was not technically a tweed. “It only has the aspect of a tweed,” he said. “For instance, there are a lot of ones that look like knits but are in fact wovens.”

This story first appeared in the September 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Jacquard and print designs were also toned down and darker in hue. While graphic and ethnic in tone, particularly African, the look was saturated in rich tones of crimson reds, ink blues, deep purples and blue-green teals.

Mantero showed strong examples, such as a deep-hued print on silk, mixed with a black, large-scale diamond-like jacquard pattern. Ratti’s group of textured neutrals that included an African-like embroidery on velvet, which was then overprinted, was another example. The overall feeling was one of refinement.

“We’re definitely headed in a dressier, more couture-like direction as far as our fabrics go,” said designer Yigal Azrouel. “Everything we’ve seen here has an element that’s special.” He said Ratti “had color combinations, such as muted and flash tones, that looked great,” and he also praised a selection of fils coupes and burnouts at Mantero.

Even Yeohlee, a designer known for her minimalist approach, got bit by the glam bug at PV.

“Fabrics that are louder are attracting me,” she said, adding that she was using more color than before and was on the lookout for bold and graphic patterns and embroideries, as well as interesting color combinations.

Metallics were notably more subtle than in the past — both in hue, which was more antiqued, and in usage. The look was everywhere — on tweeds, prints and graphic jacquards — and no longer limited to just evening styles.

At Luigi Boggio Casero, rich tweeds were infused with touches of metallic, while at Clerici Tessuto, tarnished copper accents were mixed into jacquard designs. Jakob Schlaepfer, meanwhile, showed multicolored metallic paillettes appliquéd onto tweed.

“I’ve noticed a move toward more matte metallics,” said designer Zac Posen, who was shopping PV for the first time. “It’s more tarnished, which is quite beautiful.”

Designer Peter Som agreed: “I’ll continue to use metallics, but in a more matte way.”

He found what he called a new tweed at Bucol that was “shot with gold” for a sleeker look. He also noted that thanks to all the novelty, he was happy to be looking at black again. “With all the color in the past seasons, black almost seems like a new color again,” Som said. “And with all the novelty, black isn’t so basic anymore.”

Colors were headed in a darker, richer and more saturated direction. Designer Christian Lacroix said he was feeling strong about burgundies that evoked the late Eighties. “The feeling for fall will be richer, warmer and more lavish,” he said.

Those inspired by color were not limited to fashion designers. Dominique Szabo, senior vice president of trends for the Estée Lauder Group, noted that she travels to PV to find inspiration for texture and color.

“The feeling for fall is about luxury and sensuality,” she said. “You walk in here and look at the walls, which are painted plum and orange, or the floor, with hues of gray and royal purple, and you can’t help but be inspired.”