Designers at Direction Look East for Inspiration

By RAYE RUDIE — April 01, 2003

Direction, the international textile design show, kicked off the spring 2004 season for apparel designers this past January with 62 artists and design studios from around the world introducing designs for fabrics. Attendees were given a sneak peek at trends in prints, knits, wovens and embroideries that will end up in spring 2004 apparel collections.

Exhibitors noted that the most popular themes were romantic, pretty florals as well as Asian-influenced designs, both in soft colors. Dots were also present in various sizes and shapes, often combined with stripes, which were another important theme. Lisa Mainardi, show producer, pointed out other trends, including primitive designs with a hand-made look and tropical themes, such as palm trees and palm fronds combined for a new approach to the tropicals that have been so popular. The vintage look continues with trends toward Art Deco, Art Nouveau, vintage florals and tea-stained grounds.

Nicola Dimita of London-based db Studio, a color forecasting service that offers print design, said new neutrals such as bitter chocolate, cold neutrals such as sage and khaki and warm neutrals leaning toward pink and peach tones will be important. Contrasting light and dark shades of the same color also are expected to be popular for spring '04 apparel.

Adam Read, director of Colorfield, was selling new takes on Asian designs in soft, subtle colors. The influence of the Orient showed in squiggle lines in florals and abstracts. Samantha Shulman of European Textile Collection also noted interest in Asian-influenced designs. She also sees dots used as design elements, such as for creating florals.

Esti Shafir of Esti Studio said interest was in chinoiserie for all areas and romantic watercolors harking back to the '40s and '50s for the dress market.

RAYE RUDIE is an Apparel contributing author who has covered the fabric and fashion industries for more than 25 years. Based in New York, she may be reached at e-mail: rayerudie@aol.com. 

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