Actually, it's none of the above. When the curtain rises at the fairgrounds in Frankfurt, Germany, attendees have the privilege of seeing something they've never seen before: the world's debut of newly conceived decorative textiles. And there isn't just a handful, there are thousands. The largest show of its kind in the world, Heimtextil reveals the latest trends in fabrics, window treatments, trimmings, hardware and colors. Let's take a peek at these exciting debutantes of the European window coverings industry.
The 1997 fabrics are classified into five distinct categories:
Transparent -- The transparent category is light and airy, with see-through, open work, delicate and filigree fabrics. Included here are: toile, batiste, organza, net, tulle and gauze.
Lustrous -- The lustrous category shines with the metallic luster of gold, silver, chrome and brass. Included in this group are: metallic, satin, chintz and lacquer finishes.
Textured -- This category is inspired by dry earth, dried-out vegetation and porous stones. It includes such fabrics as shantung, honan, jute, linen, hopsack weave, slubs, streaked, nappy, bouclé, crackled effect and animal skins.
Pile -- The pile category carries a suggestion of moss, grass, cut grass, grain and animal hides. This group includes warp velvet, panne velvet, brushed denim and fur.
Constructed -- This category has a firmness reminiscent of metal, or it may imitate diverging water. It includes: canvas, brick cloth, poplins, twills and moiré.
Patterns and colors also fell into five categories. For patterns they were: symbols, geometry, flowers, faux and Oriental/fantasy. For colors, the groupings included pastels, primary, natural, neutral and half tones.
Three overall trends were flagrantly conspicuous: shiny, sheers and natural. Each was not always used independently from the others. Rather, they were combined in delightfully inventive ways never seen before.
Shiny -- At times the shiny influence seemed so strong that if the lights were turned out, the attendees would still be able to see! A wide variety of fabric types were offered with shiny finishes, including satins, sheers and even animal prints.
Many fringes, braids and tassels were either satiny or metallic, while many others had satiny or metallic yarns woven within them.
Sheers -- Never before have sheers been so abundant and used in so many creative ways. As Roman shades, they offered a unique soft, tailored alternative to rod pocket sheers. As a geometrically shaped insert into Roman shades, they provided a surprise window within a window treatment.
Sheers were textured, patterned and printed. Many of the sheers were strongly influenced by the shiny trend and provided an iridescent sheen. They also sported many different styles of trims and contrast banding of solid and print fabrics alike.
Natural -- If it wasn't shiny, it was emulating nature and sometimes it even was both at the same time. The return to nature was so predominant that it touched every aspect of the show.
Many of the colors were nature-based. Fabric patterns commonly included leaves, flowers, flower pots, animal skin patterns and animal shapes. Fabric and trim textures duplicated those of plants and animals. Fabric fibers were leaning strongly to the natural: cotton, linen, wool and silk.
Decorative trimmings included the same natural fibers taken one step further by combining them with leather, jute, fur, wood, ceramic, pottery, terra cotta, crystals and even semi-precious stones. Decorative hardware was embellished with rope, leaves, twigs, flowers, leather and even animal heads and fur. Many hardware finishes reflected the natural weather-beaten look of crackled paint.
Two window treatment styles held over by popular demand from the 1996 show included many styles of tab curtains and a wide variety of applications of grommets. As a result of this continued popularity, several American companies are going to be providing the U.S. market with those hard-to-find large grommets. This will open a world of design possibilities that the Europeans have been enjoying for some time, including several of the styles we featured in the photographs with last year's Heimtextil show (D&WC, March 1996).
The ultra-bright citrus colors that premiered at this year's show already are very popular in Asia and to some extent in Europe. Of the attendees and vendors that I polled, it seems to be the consensus that the citrus colors will inspire some interest, but not a strong trend in the American market. Muted versions of the same citrus colors currently are available in the United States in many trims and fabrics.
Greens and purples were the two colors predicted to have the greatest influence in American markets.
Now that we've provided you with the necessary props, you'll be able to put your window treatments on center stage, using the latest trends. Turn on the spotlight, and take your bows when the curtain goes up, down or sideways.
Cheryl Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery Seminars. She is an internationally-acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional drapery workrooms. Strickland also is the author of A Practical Guide to Soft Window Coverings and the Designer's Sketch Pad, which are available through Draperies & Window Coverings magazine.