Rustic tweeds woven from wool and cotton, faux furs and paisley prints are just some of the Première Vision predictions on fashion fabrics for winter 2005/6.

As far as colour is concerned, most exhibitors - particularly those selling into the women's wear suiting trade - see next winter as a "think pink" season when crushed strawberry shades will be in style.

In laces and lightweight jersey fabrics a soft sage green makes its bow, while in tweeds dark ground shades are highlighted by multi-colour knopping, often in a mix of autumn leaf tones in which orange and a clear yellow make the most immediate impact.

The use of fancy yarns to create raised patterns is also a feature of women's wear jacketing and skirt weight fabrics, but in men's wear woollens a move back to a more restrained colour palette prevails.

British exhibitors at the show, see next winter as ripe for the return of the traditional sports jacket as a leisurewear choice for all age groups, including the under-30s for whom this is a sartorial first.

Underlining this trend the Abraham Moon group decorated its stand with a larger than life-size portrait of the late Cary Grant in his heyday as a Hollywood icon, wearing a check sports jacket with a pattern very similar to those promoted in its latest collection.

Executives from the British Wool Textile Export Corporation, which helps to sponsor UK manufacturers' visits to PV, are also endorsing winter 2005/6 as the season when not only will the classic sports jacket enjoy a fashion renaissance but forecast "a strong season" for woollens of all types.

British made woollen fabrics will, however, continue to face stiff competition from manufacturers who have become adept at simulating the typical British handwriting in 100 per cent woollens and blends with other natural fibres and with manmades.

Some of the most striking of the new type tweeds are in fact not wool at all but woven from chunky cotton yarns.

The new naturals
Cotton of course unequivocally qualifies as a "natural" fibre, but the term now surfaces in the sales vocabulary of any material remotely animal or vegetable in origin. Viscose producers, including manufacturers of branded qualities like Ashai Kasei with its Cupro, describe their yarns as possessing "the touch of nature."

Meanwhile the search for new sources of truly natural textile fibres continues. Latest recruits to use fibres derived from bamboo include polyester specialists Toray Industries and from Italy Lanifcio Ugo Pacini - both of whom were among the 23 new companies showing in Paris for the first time.

Newcomers to the show also included a number of circular knitting specialists. The Tokyo based A-Girls offered a varied range which included velvets, jacquards and crepes, while in Taiwan's Eclat Textiles is building mosquito repellent properties into many of its new circular knits. It is also using finishing techniques that offer ultra-quick drying properties for washable sportswear and for the swimwear trade.

Technical textile introductions from UK exhibitor John Heathcoat included an extended range of mesh and woven fabrics suitable for building into body armour.

"Obviously in a world where terrorism appears to be running riot, both home market and export demand for this type of specialist fabric is increasing almost daily," the Heathcoat sales team explained.

Heathcoat also reports an upsurge in demand for the bright dye tulles it produces specifically for the carnival costume market but which also sell to club wear manufacturers.

Sophisticated shades
Meanwhile veering away from the traditional pastels or ultra brights, French tulle specialist Charles Lapierre is wooing the top end of the evening wear market with a selection of softly sophisticated shades of smoky lilac and silver grey.

An exactly opposite approach characterises the latest collection from Taubert Textiles where manmade sheers are printed with a "vibrant kaleidoscope of colourful flower motifs."

Elsewhere, both sheers and satins develop sheen effects achieved with either coating or the use of metallised yarns. This look eschews obvious glitter effects in favour of old gold or "antiqued" (slightly tarnished) silvering.

Dentelles Sophie Hallette offers a range of coordinating open nets, conventional laces and trimmings in old gold. The most important news from this company is that it is targeting its lace at the sportswear market with a new collection of "100 per cent practical" polyamide laces, many of which also have a stretch element.

The fusion of fancy and practical which typifies winter 2005/6 can be seen in sturdy denims overlaid with a tracery of gilt, which looks like embroidery but which is in fact a printed finish.

Some casualwear specialists are looking for alternatives to denim. Most notably Klopman International, whose demo garment range included classic style jeans but executed in densely dyed black cotton fabrics with a slightly glazed surface. Klopman now describes itself as Europe's leading producer of polyester cottons in a weight range from l50-330 grms, available with or without Lycra.

Greater stress on stretch is also a feature of the pseudo suedes - in fact cleverly finished polyamides - shown by Ichimura Sangyo from Osaka, Japan. Recent investment in "state-of-the-art" dyehouse equipment means it is able to offer a "more intense degree of black" which Ichmura see as "largely taking over from indigo in the casual wear market by winter 2005."

A winter cold snap
Pile fabric producers Tissaval, Girmes and Schulte are among the manufacturers targeting the faux fur trade as never before with collections of realistic, long haired animal pelt effects. Girmes, however, counterbalances the long hair look with a selection of cropped short, ocelot patterned velvets.

Upholstery-like plushes enter the fashion scene as outer wear fabrics at Freestyle. There is also an upholstery fabric feeling about some of the new printed linen qualities at Detis-Deertijkse.

For Italian luxury fibre specialist Loro Piana an extension of its Storm System range of proofed cashmeres is expected to create new openings for these fabrics within the ski - or at least the après ski - market during winter 2005.

And while cashmere's primary appeal is its soft handle, for the season ahead Loro Piana is deliberately choosing to use the coarse outer hair, normally discarded in cashmere processing, as the main a component of a new range of heavier weight jacketings.

For Swiss manufacturer Chr Eschler, however, there's nothing to beat quilting as a chill cheater. Eschler is also strongly into fleeces, both as lining fabrics for protective clothing and as street/casual fabrics in their own right.

By Sonia Roberts.