High Point - Oct. 18: Gray moves over, brown ascends
The Bad News: Traffic definitely diminished. Very few showrooms are busy; many more are empty.
Media participation substantially down as well. The parking garage at the local Best Western is an empty shell at night. Restaurants, in the whole of Triad environs, that is, are half full. Excuses are many: massive consolidation, pre-Market activity, and, yes, the lingering recession.
The Good News: Showrooms look terrific - and while offerings are conservative in nature, upholstery in particular is hogging the attention with richly colorful fabrics, metallic vinyl and chunky texture.
If you listened to too many forecasters declaring "Gray the Next Big Neutral," you would be betting on the wrong pony. Gray was last year’s most important color - so much so, it reached the tipping point of saturation. It has been edged out overwhelmingly at this Market by the resurgence of browns. The Market is awash in browns, from darkest espresso and rich chocolate to mid tone camel and a broad range of beiges. The accent colors complimenting the browns are melting golds, brown reds and coral. These colors are democratically distributed over all price ranges. For good examples, look to Drexel-Heritage, Thomasville, and LaneVenture.
Gray has not disappeared but has been reduced to a supporting role and a cooling mixer. Many beautiful silver finishes remain on furniture; and in upholstery, a silver vinyl at Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams is a stand-out. Gray also has had a game changing influence on other colors - the new taupes and the mushrooms are essentially warm grays - and noticeably, gray is responsible for the changeover from yellow to silvery greens, seaglass, tourmaline, emerald and malachite and the blue-hued teal.
Speaking of blues, they have clarified into true blues, both beautiful mid-blues to deep inky blues and its brighter cousin, lapis. Purple, fuchsia and pink have all been dusted by gray and have morphed into one blend: mauve.
Some of the best were seen at the Hickory Chair Co. and Lillian August always reliable indicators for color now and looking forward.
Texture is more important than ever: chunky linens are taking their star turn over flat wovens - many of them inspired by "French laundry linens" and at their most rustic, by farmers’ feed sacks. Wide whale corduroys, a linen velvet at Lauren for Schnadig, almost iridescent and with a distinct, almost "hairy" surface, and lots of pongee, the Indian basic which is regaining prominence.
Covers are overwhelmingly solid or familiar damasks and jacquards. Suede, real or faux, is much in evidence, sometimes shaded for extra dimension. Accented by leather piping on suede upholstery at Lauren add a lively but conservative touch. Patterns are few and classic: lots of plaids, stripes, fretwork, caning, trellis, a few florals. Only large scale bird prints or others inspired by Chinese teapapers (which used to animate many a dining room wall) call for more attention.
Glamour and luxury will not be denied by the recession. The Monaco and New Hollywood collections at E.J.Victor’s debut introduction of Ralph Lauren are seductive - and if you love luxury - addictive.