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Emilia Pryczyńska,

Anetta Anderwald
The Design Connotations of Clothing
and Interior Fabrics in the Aesthetic and
Application Aspects, Based on an Analysis
Institute of Textile Architecture
Department of Design and Technology of Textiles
ul. Piotrkowska 276, 90-950 Łódź, Poland

of Recent Fashion Guidelines

The fashion of recent seasons has demonstrated numerous links between the designs of cloth-
ing and decorative fabrics. The comparison analysis which this article contains illustrates
the frequent connotations of the two assortment areas. These connotations refer to qualities
of aesthetics as well as of application.

Key words: decorative fabrics, clothing fabric, aesthetics, application qualities, connotations.

strong relationship between clothing and on surprising solutions in the area of

decorative fabrics as regards design and components, construction and the visual
application qualities. ‘destructurising’ of fabrics, a variety
of decoration techniques and finishing
methods [2].
n The Basis of Aesthetic
Awareness Influencing the
The encouragement to unconstrained
Fashion of Recent Years
inspiration and fun can be also found in
In fashion, the turn of the twenty-first the message of Gunnar Frank, a Dutch
century has quite often been compared designer, who has been preparing the
to a huge melting pot in which there is guidelines to the International Trade Fair
a mixture of various styles accumulating for Home Textiles and Commercially
the experiences of many centuries. It is Used Textiles Heimtextil. He described
more and more difficult to catch up with the trends for the year 2000 in the words
changes and orient oneself among the “Everything is different. Everything is
wide variety of inspirations and influ- new. Everything is possible.”
ences encountered. Innovative designs
characteristic of the 1920s, the 1940s, The following season, 2001, was an invi-
the 1970s and the 1980s are mixed with tation (such was the slogan of Premiere
elements coming from various eras and Vision at that time) into the world of
cultures, which provokes sharp contrasts new designs and colours. There was a
and quite often embarrassment [1]. Such symbolic presentation of the meeting and
combinations of both designs & materi-
mixing of two elements: ‘cool’, hidden
als and also styles & techniques are a
behind a symbolic picture of a Scandina-
consequence of a variety of phenomena
vian boy presented in a clear, fresh interi-
taking place in our times. It is a response
or, and ‘hot’, a girl with oriental features
to the era of multimedia.
surrounded by Far Eastern-style patterns,
n Introduction Asian sweets and exotic fruits [3].
This fundamental change, which is
The specificity of the phenomenon popu- breaking up the classical unambiguity
larly called ‘fashion’ inseparably links of design, is also associated with an ev- At that time three elements, fire, soil and
various aspects of everyday life. These erlasting need to search for something water, became the inspiration for the in-
aspects form a new quality which in its absolutely different, and not completely terior designers. As in clothing fashion,
turn responds to the current aesthetic and specified in its authentic form. The various climates and three basic colour
application needs. The design of planar unique atmosphere of the beginning of ranges (blue, red and grey) interacted.
textile products has to take these grow- the new millennium is proving favour- In fire we encountered a mixture of per-
ing expectations into account and, like able to this tendency. fumed East, kitsch and elements of pop
no other area of production, must react to fashion, everything connected with Far
frequent seasonal changes of demand. At the turn of the century, the moment Eastern philosophy. Water, with its light-
which included the 2000 season, the ness, brightness and clarity, gave inspira-
The course of these changes is common guidelines presented at the International tion and introduced the atmosphere of
for various assortment areas because it Fairs of Clothing Textiles Premičre Vi- imagination and the feeling of a sporting
considers phenomena determining the sion were based on actions relying on the character. Earth, the third element, was
fashion of today, including manufactur- element of surprise. Textiles called by traditionally associated with discretion
ing technologies. The analysis of the last the suggestive name of ‘hybrids’ aimed and the warm mood of a comfortable
few seasons demonstrates that there is a to shape a new aesthetic awareness based domestic appearance [4].

FIBRES & TEXTILES in Eastern Europe October / December 2003, Vol. 11, No. 4 (43) 15
The slogan presented at Premičre Vision be observed at the stage of material and for youth, is very keen on the macro-
for the 2002 spring-summer season was yarn selection. scale, typical of decorative realisations,
‘Alternative’. The variety of inspirations and bright colours based on contrasts of
and topics enabled free creation with one During recent years, the fabric design has colour and value.
aim: discovering and highlighting one’s highlighted the strong position of natural
own individuality. Sensitivity, although fabrics, from cotton through soft wool Prints and jacquards as traditional meth-
not free from roughness, optimism, inde- and its mixtures, flax, and silk, to other ods of fabric decoration most fully reflect
cisiveness and fantasy harmonising with bast fibres which are also very popular the character of tendencies, withdrawing
discipline came to the fore. We can find in the production of clothing fabrics. A from legible, unambiguous forms for the
a similar content in the message from common element also seems to be the benefit of complex patterns, and nowa-
Heimtextil presenting trends for 2002. large-scale introduction of various weav- days quite often having the character of
The motto of the recent season, ‘Home ing and knitting yarns, including fancy semiabstract camouflage. On clothes and
is where the heart is’, was an encourage- yarns. They give the effects of drizzling, on decorative fabrics one can recognise
ment to create one’s own world in the blending and marble-like appearances motifs inspired by cobbles, archaeologi-
neighbouring environment (office, flat, which are present in clothing and deco- cal layers, feathers, designs imitating the
house). This unique style was meant to ration products. It is equally popular fur of wild animals, or tree rings, all of
ensure maximum comfort for the mind to join yarns of different character and which are additionally enlivened by a
and in the application. extremely divergent thicknesses in one variety of backgrounds.
fabric. The consequence is differentiat-
The current season in clothing fabrics is ing structures and effects, which is also Plant and flower motifs are quite often
based on the experience of the previous achieved thanks to the use of combined influenced by actions aiming at blurring
years, the tradition of searching and the weaves. A ‘handmade’ character is quite the borders between the background and
need for continuous changes. According often obtained by consciously exagger- the motif. Flower designs have the form
to the fashion designers, opposites appear ated weaving structures and the effect of of small, irregular patterns, bouquets,
next to each other and contrasts build using coarse-grained and texture weaves meadows as well as free compositions.
harmony. The leading slogan of the com- of. In this way a highlighted fabric’s Flowers, from small to large in size,
ing winter season encourages us to ‘stand construction or the construction’s printed realise a romantic thread. They respond
face to face with reason, sharpen our im- imitation is exposed, which quite often is to the need for decorativeness and splen-
agination and invent new language’. the clothing’s only decoration [5]. dour in creating our image (especially in
clothes for special occasions). Through
Finding a new style has also become an See-through and transparency, a very their diversity and multiple forms, they
overriding aim in creating space around strong accent which builds a mysterious enchant us with freshness of colours
oneself. This year’s Heimtextil (the last sensuality of the silhouette of the 1990s, and paint-like character (Figure 1). This
such meeting took place in January 2003) is continued in creating the space around popular motif group is completed by
convinces us that ‘there is no way for an us. Air voile, gauze, chiffon, tulles, geor- presentations of various kinds of exotic
individual style. An individual style is gette and etamine, ephemeral plaits, light leaves, bamboo, meadow and swamp
the way.’ This expression seems to sum linens and batiste, together with a group plants, herbs and herbal plants.
up the designing experiences of recent of ultra-light non-woven fabrics, have
years. found their permanent place in the vision The energising power, especially in youth
of contemporary interior trends. An ex- fashion, can be found in the comeback of
The analysis of the design guidelines pre- ample of a similar assimilation is etched ‘soft’ geometry and cashmere designs.
sented at the two most important textile fabrics, which initially appeared in cloth- Virtual copies and transformations of
fairs in Europe indicates the same direc- ing, and later enlarged their reports and patterns from the 60s and 70s have ap-
tion of search. Numerous similarities can the character of motifs used in curtains, peared in textile design, together with
be also traced regarding colours, design net curtains and special-usage fabrics. a fashion for pop and op-art and hippie
and finishing. fashion. Irregular polka dots and spots,
A strong relationship between clothing smooth, small and large stripes and cheq-
n Design Connotations in the and decorative design is often based on uers, freely connected with Turkish de-
Area of Colours, Motifs and the use of common motifs with numerous sign or simplified flowers make a kind of
Decoration Forms in Fabrics interpretations in various assortments. It ornamental, multicolour arabesque. Far
is worth mentioning here the popular- Eastern motifs introduce the breath of
Styles mixing and playing with con- ity of a realistic representation of roses the exotic (Figure 2) preferred in fashion,
ventions in terms of literal borrowings which is equally successful as a dress and often mixed with the atmosphere of the
or free interpretations occur at various blouse or as a typically decorative motif. Tales from a Thousand and One Nights.
stages of fabric creation. As a result, we The characteristic silhouette of the tulip
receive products which exemplify the has had similar success. A wide range of classical geometric pat-
link of the new aesthetics with function, terns has for years been a universal canon
textiles which are difficult to classify as Connotations between two basic assort- common for clothing and decorative
regards their application and the way in ment areas are not limited only to inter- fashion. Colourfully woven chequers and
which they are produced. pretation of the same motives. Quite of- their printed imitations have taken one of
ten we also deal with literal borrowings, the leading positions in the offer of west-
Specific preferences common to cloth- just as in the case of wallpaper patterns ern producers of decorative products, es-
ing and interior assortments can already on clothing fabrics. Fashion, especially pecially of bedclothes and coverings. The

16 FIBRES & TEXTILES in Eastern Europe October / December 2003, Vol. 11, No. 4 (43)
hit of the season has been a stripe motif in same materials, weaves, impregnates and They are applied in a whole assortment
various colour and composition versions, finishing are present today in all textile of products from bedclothes, upholstery
which has been as much used in interior assortments, creating new aesthetics of to window decorations, carpets and fitted
fabrics as in clothes (Figure 3). products, and thus blurring the borders carpets. In the home textiles industry,
between decorative and clothing textiles. after a period of fascination with plastics,
As in other thematic areas, geometry the conviction that natural fibres are es-
is realised with the use of alternative Common materials, weaves and con- pecially precious materials is becoming
decorative techniques, that is, etching (as structions more and more popular. Natural materi-
already mentioned), embroidery, laces, By the end of the 1980s, producers of als are ecological and have very good
applications, sequins, filling the surface home textiles had turned towards natural application and aesthetic qualities [7].
with shiny materials, and coating with materials such as linen, cotton and wool, Linen fabrics are appreciated by design-
lustrous finish. introducing products from natural fabrics ers and users of home textiles for their
into their collections on a large scale. smoothness, silky shine, resistance and
All these assortments also share the in-
terchanging of matt and shine, as well
as the presence of surface elements.
The latter take the forms of wrinkles,
creases, pleats and seersucker effects.
Crepes, crepons, and embossing fabrics
introduce the element of imperceptible
movement of 3D structures, sometimes
in the form of delicate irregularities of
surface, or even as sculpture-like spatial
structures [6].

A constant element joining the textile

design is colour. Preferences concerning a b
particular colours and their combinations
apply to clothing as well as to decorative
Figure 1. Examples of using a flower motif on cushion (a) and clothes (b).
fashion. Thus we deal with a domina-
tion of achromatic colours, white, grey
and black. This is a realisation of the
tendency for minimalist asceticism, a
breakthrough entrance of a wide palette
of green, quite often connected with bro-
ken pink and red and with an explosion
of sickly, sweet colours, characteristic of
kitsch and childish carelessness.

Current interior trends tend towards

brown, which has anyway been determin-
ing clothing fashion in recent months.
a b
n Design Connotations Between
Clothing and Interior Fabric Figure 2. Far-East motifs used on decorative textile (a) and clothes (b).
in the Application Aspect
It is more and more popular to give
clothes special qualities which used to
be attributed to decorative textiles. Also,
decorative fabrics are gaining features
that used to be characteristic only for
clothing fabrics. This phenomenon is
connected with the fact that textile prod-
ucts are more and more often made with
the users’ comfort, health and safety on
the designers’ mind. There are ever more
examples of these connections on the
textile market. They are realised with
a b
the use of both familiar and also com-
pletely new technologies in the areas
of spinning, weaving and finishing. The Figure 3. Examples of using a geometric motif on tablecloth (a) and shirt fabrics (b).

FIBRES & TEXTILES in Eastern Europe October / December 2003, Vol. 11, No. 4 (43) 17
natural coarse texture [8-14]. Application It is joined with linen, hemp, lurex, ny- with metal threads and prints made with
parameters are also important here. Their lon, lycra, Tencel, or acetate fibres. In fluorescent dyes.
low electrostatic qualities mean that even modern interiors the leading position is
a small addition of linen to the fabrics taken by classic denim with metal-plated ‘Technical’ effects of drizzling and shine
considerably lowers their tendency to thread applied on it, which is used mainly can be achieved with different methods
electrify (upholstery, carpets, fitted car- for upholstery. from fibre production, through weaving
pets). The anti-allergic qualities of linen and knitting, to chemical processing of
and its positive influence on the body The most popular animal fibre is wool. a ready product. For example, this result
(bedclothes) are well known. The small Its precious physical qualities make it can be achieved by using metal threads
resilience of linen, which causes its ex- irreplaceable. Wool stops external mois- in fabrics or knitwear. Metal threads
cessive folding, is nowadays considered ture and is resistant to wearing thin. It has have long been used for decorating tex-
as its greatest virtue. Nowadays there is a wide application in decoration fabrics tile products. In the past gold and silver
also a tendency to finish other fabrics used for upholstery and carpets typical threads were used for this purpose. The
in the style of so-called ‘creased linen’. for Scandinavian design (IKEA). Classi- art of weaving with the use of gold and
Creased linen is one of the most fashion- cal constructions of wool fabrics, such as silver threads was known in the times
able fabrics of the latest seasons, and gabardines, flaush, lodens, cloth, tweeds, of Alexander the Great. At present, soft
not only in clothing. In modern interiors back splices, tennis, jersey, boucle, can aluminium threads are used in order to
this type of fabric is applied for window be more and more frequently encoun- achieve the desired effect. Aluminium
decorations in the form of net curtains tered in modern interiors. foil is coated on both sides with transpar-
and bed and sofa coverings. In order to ent polyester or acetate foil, after which
heighten its elasticity, linen is mixed with Common impregnations and finishing the laminate is cut into threads of the
elastane (lycra, dorlastan). Elastic linen techniques required wideness. If the glue applied
has almost become a standard in clothing. for sticking the threads is colourless, the
Links between clothing and home tex-
Designers suggest using elastic linen also threads thus obtained have an aluminium
tiles can be also observed on the level
in interiors, for example as upholstery. colour. When colouring the glue with an
of impregnation and finishing. Everyday
Linen can be found not only in standard appropriate colour, we can achieve any
clothes (underwear, pantyhose, jackets, colour of threads. Another method is to
mixtures with polyester, it is often mixed
shirts, blouses) are more and more often expose the polyester foil to aluminium
with cotton, viscose, polyamide, wool,
water-resistant, anti-electrostatic, anti- vapour in vacuum, which is called the
natural silk, hemp, and recently with
metal-plated fibres and tencel. In 2000 bacterial, anti-mycosic, UV-ray proof, metallising method.
linen was considered the hit of the season anti-dirt, fire resistant, fluorescent,
in all assortments of home fabrics. In the reflecting, perfumed or even insect re- Innovative solutions achieved on fabric
modern design of decoration fabrics, pellent [15-25]. Not so long ago these surfaces with a creased paper structure
linen is used in the forms of sheet, open- qualities were reserved for interior and are also associated with techno optics.
work, nets, diagonals, melange, fabrics technical textiles only. These effects are not connected with the
coated with polyurethane, semi-perme- fabric’s finishing, but are conditioned by
able membranes and knitwear. Knitwear This trend has quite unconsciously con- a specific construction of a fibre and its
with a proportion of flax is more and tributed to the creation of a new style in physical and chemical features. Such a
more popular, and not only for the top clothing fashion. Fabrics more and more fibre has been created by a Japanese com-
clothes. Characteristic knitwear pleats often rustle, gleam, sparkle, shine, are pany, Kanebo. The fibre is a bicomponent
have very good appearance in all types of phosphorescent and opalescent. It turned built of two types of polyester with dif-
interiors. Bed coverings, curtains and pil- out that a well-known optics of technical ferent melting temperatures. A ready fab-
low covers are made from knitwear. fabrics could be used for this trend. Var- ric made from such a yarn is taken under
nished, lustred, glass, gummed and paper pressing rollers at a high temperature that
The inevitable cotton also appears in textile surfaces are present in top fashion. melts the lower temperature component.
interiors. Cotton is hygroscopic, resistant In this way, new aesthetics have started In this way, under the influence of an ad-
to washing and ironing, and is easily dyed to mesh with function, which resulted in ditional burden, permanent, non-deform-
with permanent colours. These qualities the creation of a style in clothing fabric able creases appear, imitating a creased
make the fibre widely applicable and are design called ‘techno’. The style is repre- paper.
the reasons for its everlasting popularity. sented by characteristics including shiny
Certain types of cotton fabrics typical jackets made from gummed fabrics, The effects of drizzling and shine can
of clothing assortments such as batiste, close fittings similar to a diving suit, alu- be also achieved when weaving through
denim, duvetine, flannel, seersucker, minium-coated textiles resembling steel- the application of two different synthetic
cretonne, organdine, jeans, embossed worker’s overalls, reflecting fabrics and materials in warp and weft, in connection
fabric and crepe, have been widely used luminous fabrics like traffic signs in the with an appropriate weave which brings
in our homes. Nowadays these fabrics darkness, foil fabrics, false furs. From the a shinier fibre onto the fabric’s surface.
have come back with the use of various textile engineering point of view, techno
fibres, and techniques of mechanical and fabrics are various types of compact and The actions connected with the chemical
chemical finishing including the most sculptured surfaces achieved through processing of a fabric give more pos-
recently developed fibres and techniques. coating and end-use finishing, relief sibilities in creating ‘technical’ effects
The cotton is softened, made flexible, structures achieved thanks to permanent on the fabric’s surface. An example
etched, punched, scratched, embossed, folding, double-layer fabrics with con- could be perfectly white clothes which
creped, crumpled, worsted or flannelled. trasting sides, multi-layer fabrics, fabrics are luminous in ultraviolet light. The

18 FIBRES & TEXTILES in Eastern Europe October / December 2003, Vol. 11, No. 4 (43)
effect is associated with using so-called the result of interdisciplinary actions in 8. E. Pryczyńska, B. Lipp-Symonowicz, T.
optical brighteners, which were already various assortment areas. Rymarz, ‘Modern trends of designing of
known over 2000 years ago, when the linen fabrics considering the aesthetic
and utility comfort’, Proceedingsof the
degree of the linen whiteness after sun- The area of applications will increase.
Ivanovo International Scientific and
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