Finding the Thread in the Haystack
It’s unseasonably hot in Paris this September and yet thousands of people are looking through lambswool, Shetland wools and even cashmere, trying to decide what to buy. But they aren’t choosing garments to wear. These are designers and fabric specialists from all over the world on a biannual pilgrimage to Paris for the largest and most comprehensive fabric and materials show in existence — here Premiere Vision.
What started in 1973 as a simple collaboration between fifteen weavers from France’s Lyon region, PV is now comprised of eight major hall venues with thousands of vendors specializing in some form of fabric (leather, wovens, knit, technical) and accessory material manufacturing.
Let’s put this into perspective. I recently sat in on a fabric appointment at Abraham Moon & Sons, one of the most famous high quality woolen mills in the world, with specialists from two American design houses. The Moon collection for autumn/winter 2017 consists of 335 styles across eight categories of wool. This does not include the colorways within the 335 styles, which average about fifteen to eighteen colors. That’s just over 5,000 “choices” of wool, mostly used for men’s outerwear and heavy wool suiting. See where I’m going? Someone looked through 5,000 wools for just two categories of clothes. Now, repeat that process for everything hanging in your closet or folded in your drawer. Think of that next time you’re having a hard time deciding what to wear.
Most designers start with a concept, but in many ways the clothes and shoes we wear, and the bags we carry, all start here long before we see them. Thanks to those original fifteen weavers, we as consumers can be individuals in the way we choose to look. Recently, a clever ten-year-old told me that her mom develops and chooses fabrics for clothes. “She’s a fabricsist,” she said.
“Did you invent that word” I asked her.
“Indeed I did” … It’s a damn good word.