January's Moda Barcelona was the biggest yet with record levels of visitors and exhibitors - a fact that highlights Barcelona's growing importance as a fashion capital. The catwalk shows are still to come however, but Sonia Roberts gives a sneak preview on trends for everything from intimate wear to evening wear.

Reflecting the steadily growing importance of Spain as a fashion source, the January 2001 Moda Barcelona proved to be the biggest yet, attracting 448 exhibitors and around 30,000 visitors.

As devotees of this event are aware, Moda Barcelona is not just one trade fair. It is a cluster of related but independent exhibitions, followed in the first week in February by a series of catwalk shows.

Animoda at the fair
This year the fairs covering men and women's clothing, lingerie and ready to wear have been joined by Animoda, an event organised by the Spanish Association of Fashion Importers and Distributors in which seventeen manufacturers, mainly from other EU nations, will be invited to display branded clothing and accessory ranges suitable for sale into the Spanish home market.

The catwalk shows will comprise collections from twenty leading Spanish designers plus a corporate show in which exhibitors at Intimoda will show items from their latest collections of foundation garments, lingerie, nightwear, hosiery and housewear, the latter regarded by the show's organisers as a sector with "huge" scope for growth both within the Spanish market and worldwide.

The importance of underwear to the overall Spanish fashion scene is further underlined by the fact that in its individual February catwalk show TCN has chosen to concentrate on this aspect of their production.

The advance programme for this event suggests that it will mingle control corsetry with delicately flimsy lingerie lines and practical pyjamas with stylish palazzo pants offered as leisure and lounging outfits.

Throughout the show however there will be consistent emphasis on the use of fashion colours with either slate blue or "toasted orange" tipped as the top selling shades for the season ahead. Incidentally this manufacturer sees scarlet not as a specifically fashion colour but a regular component of its standard range. It also predicts that for autumn 200l a rich brown that it describes as "sweet chocolate" will challenge black as the nation's favourite dark neutral.

Fine count cotton and lightweight linen
When it comes to fabric TCN will be stressing the use of fine count cotton knits but also making extensive use of lightweight linen. The use of "thick and thin" yarns in the creation of knitted fabrics lends contrasting texture interest to jersey cloths and, unusually for this sector, many of the garments offered under TCN's housewares heading will be leather trimmed.

The same colour palette of "dirty" blue and "toasted orange" - a colour that British buyers will undoubtedly call marmalade - also characterises TCN's autumn 200l streetwear collection.

However the kind of pale pinks usually associated with underwear - but this year notably absent from the fashion lingerie scene - also play a prominent role.

The collection includes a high percentage of chunky look knitwear while three quarter length tailored top coats are frequently teamed with full length, but slim line, pleated skirts.

Not all contributors to the catwalk shows section of Moda Barcelona are as willing as TCN to discuss their offer prior to its official unveiling in February. However a spokesperson for Peter Aedo talks of a collection in which "straight lines and geometric prints" will predominate and that makes widespread use of luxury natural fibres, "particularly mohair and angora."

In suits, the stress is on trousers but where shown skirts will be primarily bias cut with knee length hems.

By day colour is restrained - black, brown and a crimson so dark in tone that it could almost be mistaken for black - relieved only by touches of ivory or the occasional note of red.

Evenings get glamorous
After dark however evening wear becomes overtly glamorous, making maximum use of the local talent for producing elaborate embroidery and beaded or appliqué decoration.

The advance news from Josep Font promises a full skirted silhouette - some rumours suggest an almost tutu-like fullness and ample displays of leather with the typically Spanish suppleness that allows it to be used in the manner of a woven or a knitted fabric.

Josep Font's prediction that in tailored garments, particularly top coats, "necks will show a labyrinthine balance" has however left most buyers in the dark as to what they will actually be seeing when the collection is finally unveiled in February.