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NEW YORK — Fabrics on the spring runways have been a study in contrasts: borderline minimalism against all-out decoration. One major trend, white, turned up in the forms of delicate cottons and filmy silks, as well as structured jacquards and compact, double-faced cloths. This shade is always important for spring, but now, new techniques are giving some materials an extra edge. Coatings, in particular, are key. At Zac Posen, for example, many white fabrics were covered in Invista’s Teflon to guard against stains. Now that’s a bright idea.

Meanwhile, metallics are still going strong. While some designers went for all-out glam, such as Behnaz Sarafpour with her circle-quilted dress that had a silvery sheen, others used touches of shine. Brocades were key here, too, and at Vera Wang, brocades in different motifs were even mixed together in one look.

Prints are continuing to enjoy a big comeback, too. They can be splashy and bold or very playful. Carolina Herrera’s “swimming-ladies” print was the perfect sophisticated conversational, while Anna Sui’s vintage-style prints were in tune with her cowboys-and-Indians theme. Ikats have been revived, and they had a strong presence at Oscar de la Renta and Lisa Kulson. One of the strongest motifs of all, however, was Proenza Schouler’s tropical-palm print on corded silk. Created in-house by the duo’s graphic designer, Alex Cardenas, it used a neutral palette unusual for a genre so often saturated in bright, vibrant color.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.