As the economy splutters, fashion will naturally turn to solemn grays and blacks, right? Wrong, according to fabric gurus who unveiled their top trends for spring-summer 2013 in Paris on Thursday.
"We don’t believe for a minute that fashion is going to turn all austere, that consumers are going to start dressing all in black," Pascaline Wilhelm, fashion director at textile fair organizer Premiere Vision, told
From neon pink to deep ochre or metallic silver-blue, and a slew of synthetic greens from traffic light to pale mint or lime, the season will be "very colorful, serene, punchy without being aggressive," she forecast.
Fabrics for spring 2013 are all about graceful fluidity, with stretchy wool or supple, light-as-air blends of silks and synthetics — or at the other extreme, thick, scrunchable fabrics that feel almost crunchy to the touch.
Whether fluttery fine, or solid and sculptural, the season’s styles will be built around "benevolent," reassuring fabrics that gently envelop the wearer.
Each year Wilhelm’s teams sort through 15,000 swatches from a global web of fabric suppliers, who pitch their creations to fashion designers at half a dozen annual fairs organized by the group in Paris and around the world.
For 2013, "we are betting on beauty and innovation," said Wilhelm, who each season puts together a stylebook of colors, textures and patterns, based on the samples and her visits to weavers around the world.
Ever since the economic crisis of 2008-2009, according to Premiere Vision’s chief executive Philippe Pasquet, weavers serving the high end of fashion have resisted the temptation to cut back on research and development.
"The sector has really understood that fashion will wither and die if it does that, if it slows down, looks inward. This is a kind of consumption that is driven by desire — not by necessity."
High-tech fabrics and finishings abound in the offer for 2013 — from laser cuts to welded buttons — with a focus on cleaner technology like waterless dyeing and printing.
Nature and simplicity get a look in too, with fabrics that suggest the living world through tiny, subtle imperfections, either embroidered or printed.
Transparency is another big theme, with lots of gauze and layerings "in a more seductive, sexy spirit than recent years," and laser cuts and chunky, cut-out lace making a big comeback.
When it comes to patterns, Wilhelm sees a return to old-style draughtsmanship with intricate floral motifs, alongside a design trend she dubs "supranatural", a kind of high-tech take on the living world, whether insects or leaf shapes.
Geometric patterns come in soft, delicate shades that look as if they could have been drawn with coloring crayons — or an iPad.
"What is certain is that weavers are investing in the equipment to create new textures, new colors," Wilhelm said.
Anticipating tomorrow’s trends also "means taking on board what is happening in China and Brazil," said Anne Liberati, trend manager for the ModAmont accessories fair.
"Emerging markets are not suffering from the crisis, and they want color."
Accessory colors for spring-summer 2013 sweep from frosted pastels to bold primaries in geometric patterns — but all with a big focus on mixing synthetics and natural materials, Liberati forecasts.
Lacquered metals meet powdered, frosted textures, plastic pastels pop up alongside old-style embroidery, while floral patterns are rendered with a meringue-like stucco finish.
A kind of nostalgic, seaside theme also runs through the accessories world, with driftwood buttons, rusted chains, worn and frayed straps.
Other pieces are inspired by the work of African artisans, who weave colored kaleidoscopes out of recycled plastics.
Optical art gets a look-in, on bold reversible fabrics used for suit lapels, linings and in pockets.
And finally, Liberati spots an accessories trend inspired by the sports world —with ultra-light materials, and the primary colors of the Olympic rings offset against a pure, tennis white.