Fashion finds natural balance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2007, 12:00am

Designers will focus more on cotton, linen and silk for their 2008 spring/summer collections

BALANCING IS THE buzzword for fabric trends for spring/summer 2008, with an Interstoff Asia-appointed team identifying contrasting themes, from radical futuristic to retro-cultural.

'Balancing is the key,' said Sachiko Inoue, chief designer and a long-time member of the Interstoff Asia directions trend committee. And an essential part of that balancing act would be placing environmental awareness clearly in the forefront of fashion thinking, she added.

Colours would be positive and vibrant, alongside a 'mature and sensitive palette', and fabrics would be increasingly based on natural materials such as cotton, linen and silk, Ms Inoue said. 'Highly elaborate finishes and treatments will be integrated into fashion in a smart and sophisticated way,' she said.

The committee, which has been issuing fashion guidelines every year since 1998, takes its cues from the top trend forecasters in New York, Tokyo, Paris and Milan.

The forecast this year is for four key themes: 'romantic pop', 'splashing modernity', 'natural labyrinth' and 'primitive art'.

Romantic pop, according to Katy Lam Oi-mei, director of trade fairs at German event specialist Messe Frankfurt, comes in the form of soft pastel hues embellished with a coquettish pop twist, a theme carried over from last year.

Sweet sophistication and tender expression characterise this highly feminine theme, through soft luxurious fabrics with a natural fluidity, such as silk, cotton and silk/cotton blends, embellished by applique and retro graphics and comicbook or botanical motifs.

At the other end of the spectrum, primitive art evokes a timelessness based on historic-geographic influences. This year the ethnic shift is to Africa, from last year's Chinese/Japanese orientation.

The colours are rich and dark and energised by metallic details, while the fabrics are made opulent with handcrafted elements.

Primitive ornamental motifs, Indian prints, beading weave, jacquard and checks dominate, backed by exquisite craftsmanship and computerised technology.

Natural labyrinth, Ms Lam said, leant towards formal office attire, reviving classic themes with a hint of the surreal.

The colours are natural and delicately blended and the focus is on khaki and rich grey-green, bold stripes, mesh, leno weave and jacquard, finished with gold leaf motifs, enamel and elaborate embroidery.

Splashing modernity evokes the 1960s with super-light natural fibres and bio-technological materials such as maize, nylon and polyester, all in eye-catching colours.

The colour range radiates energy, reinforced by sophisticated accents.

'Overall, this season's themes are cleaner than the last,' Ms Inoue said.

Emerging technologies are enhancing the quality and versatility of fabrics, which can be adapted to any of the key themes in the coming season. Cotton, for example, is moving upmarket.

'Cotton is no longer used just for casual wear,' Ms Lam said. 'With improved technological processes, cotton can now be made much finer and used for dressier suits as well.'

Members of this year's directions trend committee include Ms Inoue (Tokyo), Nelly Rodi Agency (Paris), Elementi Moda (Milan) and Here & There (New York).