PROPOSTE - A Dreamy Trade Show in a Dreamy Setting

For the world of high-end home furnishings fabrics, the place to see and be seen is Proposte, a trade show that happens each May at the charmed location of Cernobbio, a town on the banks of lake Como in Northern Italy. The show is focused on high-end European mills, especially Italian vendors, specializing in upholstery and drapery fabrics.

The fairground is called Villa Erba, and consists of a low modern glass building where mills exhibit and a historic mansion where a very civilized lunch is served. In addition to the 95 manufacturers that show at Villa Erba, Proposte expanded the footprint to include a few added sites that make space available for mills from other regions, with an emphasis on India and Turkey. The town of Cernobbio is taken over by the show, with additional mills setting up shop in every available space, from the grandest of stand-alone, lake-view villas to tiny shopfronts and hotel conference rooms.

This year I stayed in a chic little apartment in the town of Como, which offers more in the way of restaurants and shops than Cernobbio.  Each morning I boarded a boat from Como to the fairgrounds, possibly the most romantic commute in the world when the the weather is fine.  This year we had rain for two of three days, which made the ride a bit more of an adventure.

Many luxe and wonderful fabrics were on display, and I noticed these trends:
- Naturals, with an emphasis on linens and textures, are still huge.  Mills get creative by adding interesting fibers--could be wool or a higher tech synthetic--to make the look interesting.
- Distressed finishes like stone wash, basket dye, enzyme wash, and other  techniques were seen everywhere as vendors explore the trends of broken down and faded looks. Tie-dye, dip-dye, and ombré played into this organic trend. 
- Re-invented classics were to be seen in many displays, with over scaled frame damasks, flame stitch looks in updated colors, and classic florals of every hue.
- Multi-color chunky tweeds à la Coco Chanel made a big comeback. 
- Experimental technique including dimensional and puckered weaves, and knit and warp knit looks for window and accessory added dimension. 
- In color, neutrals continued, especially cool tones and soft blues.  Strong shades like kelly green, fuchsia, and teal could be seen as accents as well as statements. An emerging palette is a shimmering multi-pastel, looking like abalone or bubble soap. Multi-color and multi-tone effects using space dye, complex weaves, and digital prints.
- Embellished and embroidered continue to be important.  Large scale and richly embroidered fabrics made a statement. 
- Velvets, epinglés, and other heavy textures were important, and used a broad fiber range with lots of wool, alpaca, and silk.
- Metallics of all tones, especially warm, with some mills using innovative yarns with metal wraps and fabrics with stainless steel content.  Very cool!


Such an inspiring location, and so many great fabrics.  Looking forward to 2016!