“Bistre?!” What happened to brown? 2*CoT reveals THE colours for 2011/12 autumn/winter – exclusive pics. Premiere Vision, Paris 2010

The Credit Crunch, La Crise, Keizai Kiki, call it what you will it seems every country and every industry has been hit by it, has been hurt badly by it and is now reacting to it. It can come as no surprise that an industry totally geared towards liberating the well-to-do of their surplus wealth, would suffer. For most people involved in fashion the experience has been one of horrible cuts not of the sartorial kinds to staff, production and collections. In the UK alone it is estimated that as many as 18% of fashion retailers have stumbled off the edges of the solvency catwalk and gone out of business during the current recession (source: FT). Only top German designer Karl Lagerfeld seems not to mind, recently stating; “This whole crisis is like a big spring house-cleaning… I see it like a healthy thing, a horrible but healthy thing, as we were not doing quality work”.

The bi-annual Première Vision Paris has just ended, literally hours ago. Although, whilst not exactly agreeing with Mr Lagerfeld, Pascaline Wilhelm, Fashion Director of the show in her statement to the press at the opening certainly issued a rallying call along similar lines; “Let’s put every ounce of our energy into creation, our weapon against the abuses of banality, manipulation, the celebrity culture and the sameness of products”. To an outsider at this years show, it sounds like a collective ‘pull finger’.

Once you're in, they only let you leave once.

Right, all well and good, but what on earth IS a fabric show? I had no idea until a few hours ago and it was certainly only in a paid capacity (accompanying 48 fashion students from a US University) that I had any intention of ever attending one. Bear with me and I will try to describe an event that will directly affect ALL your lives in 12 to 18 months time if you have any intention of wearing clothes of any description, use, colour, shape, even price or fashion during the autumn/winter of 2012. At the end of this article I can also reveal photos (slightly dodgy) of the colours for 2011/12, something which I have learned judging by the difficulties involved in obtaining said snaps, is quite a big deal in these circles.

For starters Première Vision, Paris 2011/12 is enormous and it is the most influential event of its kind on the fashion fabric calender anywhere in the world. And despite the bemoaning of Mr Lagerfeld it is growing. This year there were 683 exhibitors from 30 countries. The huge show which is held at the Parc des Expositions Paris Nord Villepinte, close to Charles De Gaule airport north of Paris, splits exhibitors into 5 gigantic halls, with the enigmatic titles of ‘ZOOM’, ‘ModAmont’, ‘LECURIAPARIS’, ‘indigo’ and ‘PREMiERE VISION’ (obviously Sir Alan Sugar’s influence on the use of small the ‘i’ does not extend to Paris- remember that episode of The Apprentice?).

Let’s be clear (as it wasn’t to me) we are not talking clothes, we are talking fabrics- the stuff clothes is made from. By that I mean materials, wools, silks, cottons, buttons, liberty prints, leather, zips, belt buckles, denim, little lace things, anything you can imagine and quite a few things you probably couldn’t that could make up, go on, be sewed onto, folded into, fastened to, clothes.

Hall 6 'PREMiERE VISION' exhibitors 'anti-spy' booths.

So how does it work? Well behind hundreds of  small white, space-age looking, photograph proof booths sit representatives from what are called ‘mills’ in the industry. Surrounding them a whirl of colours, textures, shapes and patterns as they have samples of their fabric and, I was confused to see (having been informed this was fabric only), some fully made shirts, trousers, shoes, etc. on display. Mills are the suppliers to all fashion houses of the raw materials required to fill shelves, racks and catwalks across the globe. Expert buyers from Gucci, Armani, Kenzo, Prada, but even h&m, marks and sparks and adidas stroll around the floors and disappear up and into the booths where they have touchy-feely sessions with the fabrics. For those skilful enough this suffices and out come the ordering sheets. For the less experienced, the ready-made shoes, shirts and so on serve apparently to make it easier to understand how any given fabric ‘behaves’ once turned into something like a tie or a dress.

As soon as the show is over producers dash off back to their respective countries to begin production in their mills and make good on their orders. This can amount to literally miles of fabric or thousands of buttons. Speed is of the essence as fashion houses are demanding clients and now have a great deal of work to do.  Everything on show now must be turned into clothes due to appear on catwalks for the presentation of the autumn/winter collection which traditionally takes place in July. This only gives THEM nine months or so. On the other hand by reading on and looking at the final pictures YOU get a whole 270 day head-start on what is hot and what is not for autumn/winter 2011/12. Not bad eh?

The trends for next year are revealed in no more obvious way than in the selections of the VIP (so I was told) jury of the PV Awards 2010. These 5 fashion gurus who’s titles include Head of Design for Adidas, Product Manager for Vivienne Westwood and Head of R&D Jill Sander walk around the halls for 2 days and then select five winners amongst thousands as best fabric in five categories.

The PV Awards Ceremony - an extremely PC affair

When summing up, Ennio Capasa, Jury President, Designer and founder of Costume National, said judging had been easy. There was an agreement to look to fabrics with ‘strong roots in tradition’, yet with an eye on future innovation. The strategy for recession-busting of many houses seems to be one of a return to ‘the good old days’. Remember what things were like before they went pear shaped. In a parallel move I have learned many leading fashion magazines are dumping the hordes of young, very young Eastern European androgynous-looking models from their front covers in favour of a second coming of classics such as Claudia Schiffer. It seems we once again want personality and character, there is a yearning for quality, the tried and tested, the reliable.

So what are these famous ‘revelations’ I can reveal? Well for a start the winners were:

• the Grand Jury Prize 2010 : LANIFICIO LUIGI RICCERI srl (Italy)
• Handle Prize 2010 : MARIOBOSELLI YARNS & JERSEY SpA (Italy)
• Innovation Prize 2010 : SCHOELLER TEXTIL AG (Switzerland)
• Imagination Prize 2010 : K. LINE Co. Ltd (Japan)
• And new this year the Special Woolmark Prize 2010: NIKKE-THE JAPAN WOOL TEXTILE Co. (Japan)

But perhaps of more interest to readers of 2*CoT are the colours. These are crucial. The show has two ‘colour wheel’ areas where buyers swarm around like bees, note taking, comparing charts and generally trying to sneak a picture or two (that is those who refuse to buy the official Première Vision Colour Chart 2011/12 a steal at €80!) These colours will define everything we will see in all stores at all prices for next year. And this year, sorry next year, is, I mean will be….

Here they are! THE 2011/12 colours - part 1

…. HYPERBOREALES!!! Yes, lead by bistre, lichen green, mist, iceberg blue and sulphur yellow. Happy? Rushing off to h&m to start now? Any the wiser? I certainly am not, but I might have been the only one there that didn’t quite get it. Bistre to me certainly looked a heck of a lot like brown and whoever came up with iceberg blue must have done so from a Paris studio not the Arctic, but hey I guess that’s fashion. What is sure is that we’ll all be wearing them next year. The giants of the fashion industry launch them in July and everyone else jumps of the bandwagon and fashion completes another cycle.

Officially from the Press release of PV I can further reveal the following insights into what you will all be wearing next year:

The autumn winter II I2 season is actively of its time, determined to reject a wait-and-see attitude, willingly optimistic. It calls for a redefinition of the boundaries of elegance through fashions broadly influenced by casualwear. It reinforces the bridges spanning the wool and cotton universes, and strengthens the bonds joining the chic and casual worlds.

I personally have always enjoyed what I consider my ‘wait-and-see attitude’ to life, but I guess that will have to go next year. I can say though that it has been a long time coming that bridge between the wool and cotton universe and if it means my pants will next year be a bit more woolly and warm on cold winter nights, I am all for it.

Seriously 'bistre'?

So it looks like due to a basic lack of understanding of colours if nothing else autumn and winter 2011/12 will be two seasons that will pass me by fashion-wise. Oh well, I shall do as I always do and wait for TK Maxx or h&m mens range to be on sale. ‘Bistre’ might just have to be substituted for brown and ‘mist’ for purple which on my palette are close enough. Though joking aside experiencing this alien world and gaining a small insight into just how much goes into putting together a shirt has truly opened my eyes if not my wallet. I am not sure I will ever be able to justify the huge amounts that appear on the Paris shop labels (nor afford them) but I can see now that what we ALL wear is not just thrown together and as for being fashionable, who knows? A further quote from the PV Press release about next seasons trends leaves me room for hope and states:

Patterns navigate strange universes, and new harmonies arise unexpectedly from imperfection. Enthusiastically broadening fashion outlooks, the season is an exhortation to venture far afield in quest of inventive choices, of keen expertise and mad exploration.

Well, I quite like ‘mad exploration’ and plan on doing quite a bit more in the future so maybe 2011/12 won’t be a disastrous year after all.

~ by 2ndcupoftea on September 16, 2010.

One Response to ““Bistre?!” What happened to brown? 2*CoT reveals THE colours for 2011/12 autumn/winter – exclusive pics. Premiere Vision, Paris 2010”

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