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Standing out sits well at high end.

NEW YORK--Being different makes all the difference in high-end fabrics being sold to the decorator trade.

Said Richard Downing, president of Cone Decorative Fabrics of which Greeff is a division: "A fabric has to say something about the fashion of the day--a special color, special pattern, screens, base cloths. The interior designer is looking for something different."

Wearbest is a mill that supplies woven goods to decorator fabric houses. Says Michael Koch, vice president of design, "In dealing with some of our higher-end clients, distinction is important. it has to be distinct to Donghia, distinct to Brunschwig, for example. The color palette has to be appropriate and distinctly Donghia or Brunschwig."

"You need to offer things in color coordination--things that can be used to a make a room all under one roof, rather than having to comb the market," offers Alan Campbell, showroom manager for China Seas. "Decorators like new color and always like beige. We try to come up with new ideas while supplying basics."

Scalamandre, for example, introduced a new collection called Trade Winds that features what the company reported is a "bold new palette of colors, designs and textures."

"It's exciting, it's whimsical, it's upbeat, and it's very chic," said Donna May Woods, design director of Scalamandre. "We have to tread new territory in order to meet the requests of our younger clientele, who want traditional designs treated in a totally fresh, thoroughly modern way."

The line was inspired by tropical locales, such as Glapago Islands, the Seychelles, the West Indies and the Amazon. The motifs range from tiny monkeys to freefloating sea turtles, and colors range from traditional blues, greens and reds to tropical hues like lemon, lime, raspberry, avocado, melon and persimmon.

And not forgetting its traditional roots, the company has also added new 18th-and 19th century-inspired silk wovens, lampas and damasks to its ongoing Newport and Tassinari & Chatel collections.

One new fabric from Zimmer + Rohde is Lyra, a silk fabric made in Italy that the company reported has "the subtle luster of pearl and the hand of a splendid gown."

Another new cloth from Zimmer + Rohde is Noman, a harlequin diamond-ribbed weave. And Deta, Adrastos, Dania and Octavio "harken the rich patina and burnished sumptuousness of eras gone by--the relaxed elegance of well-beaten rugs, tea-dipped linens and heirloom fabric in the country homes of noble lords," according to the company. The fabrics are colored in a warm palette of bronze, terra cotta and mossy green.

China Seas has introduced three new wovens that build on the company's strength in batiks. Yangtze, Hong Kong and Kowloon, all priced at $38 a yard, continue in the company's direction but, according to showroom manager Alan Campbell, "are new and different."

The fabrics are handloomed in India and are "designed so you can mix and match very well," said Campbell. "You can put them in a room together." The fabrics come in eight colorways, including maize yellow, leaf green, onyx, pebble beige and terra cotta.

A new fabric from Donghia is Jack, which has a woven design that mimics a bean stalk spiraling upward. For this cloth, they teamed with designer Glenn Peckman and turned his illustration into a new kind of stripe design.

The Obi Collection, another new grouping from Donghia, comes in six to eight colorways anchored by one multi-hued base cloth called Hida. This fabric is characterized by irregular loops, knots and twisted threads. Shinano is a chenille and Tammba is a tone-on-tone solid that has the feel of a retro Donegal tweed.

The Greeff lineup is extensive--two new collections by Wesley Mancini, a collection by Stephanie Hoppen, a collection in agreement with the Historic Savannah Foundation, a new Greeff studio line, and a few other books in the pipeline.

"We are reclaiming our position in the marketplace," noted Downing.


The Stephanie Hoppen fabrics are about $34 wholesale to the decorator. One pattern, Atlantis has bouquets of sea shells finely rendered. Another pattern features classic roses.

The patterns in the Savannah collection are "either of a period nature or Georgian coastal," explained Downing.

Studio patterns include a group that has a "wonderful mosaic effect," according to Downing.

Even at the upper end of the furniture trade, fabrics must be distinct. Said Jeffrey Haber, president of Belle Fabrics: "You need the idea of the design and the coloration. You can't just take any design and put it on a construction." Belle recently introduced Elegance, an embroidered look, and Falcon, a print featuring a horse and rider.

And when it comes to color, the decorator fabric houses were in agreement that it too must be fresh and distinct. Noted Wearbest's Koch, "Natural colors are always good. It's incredible how strong a nice natural, a neutral organic can be. But it has to be clean and clear--a nice clarity to a spicy kind of color. Not an orange, for example, but an earth-intense kind of color--rich, clean and intense. If it's a blue, it might be a particular type of blue that relates to a blue that is from an indigo tie-dyed fabric."
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Title Annotation:high-end fabrics; designs
Author:Rush, Amy Joyce
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 4, 1996
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