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THE fear of color is gone, and fun geometric patterns and interesting color combinations are making a splash in linen today, specialists say.


Linen companies are taking a cue from the fashion industry, notably '60s icon Emilio Pucci, a designer renowned for his geometric patterns and bold colors. The use of vibrant linen creates a look that means “you practically hear guests' jaws drop when they walk in the room,” says Greg Snow, sales manager of Atlanta-based Tabletoppers Inc. Tabletoppers recently introduced a line of velveteen linen that features geometric patterns. “{The cloths} are reminiscent of the look of Emilio Pucci's fashion designs, and our apple and turquoise combination is right in line with what's hot on the fashion runways for spring and summer,” explains Snow. “People love the feel of the fabric as well as the amazing amount of color and texture it brings to their event.”

Youngsong Martin, owner of Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Wildflower Linen, agrees that trends on the runways affect linen. “Today, bright colors, retro and contemporary looks are very big on the table, as they are in fashion,” she says. With the popularity of bright colors, the standbys — browns, beiges and ivories — are going in two different directions: “Rich, thick linens in these colors, or very light, almost wispy, à la [singer] Stevie Nicks looks in these same colors,” Martin notes. “So in one way, the styles of yesterday are becoming more ‘today’ through texture and tone.”


As designers look for ways to spice up the aesthetic appeal of their events, linen is coming into play as a versatile item that can be used for more than just tablecloths. For Valley View, Ohio-based L'Nique Linen Rental, co-owned by Angela Klodnick and Deidre Dockman, runners “have been requested more often this year than ever,” Klodnick notes. The company has been able to broaden its options by offering chair sashes as runners for round and rectangular tables. “We are using them to make stripes and even Xs on tables. We recently used lime green sashes over pink tablecloths for a bat mitzvah luncheon. We've also used our damask chair sashes as a runner for the head table at a wedding,” Klodnick says.

A-1 Tablecloth Co., on the other hand, has taken away the need for chair sashes by introducing its new self-tie satin chair bag. The cost-effective satin bags have an elegant appearance, fit any size chair and don't require a sash since the fabric is tied into a draping knot on the back of the chair, says Oren Fox of the South Hackensack, N.J.-based company.


A fun and funky look has become more popular with clients, says Judy Komson, vice president of Jericho, N.Y.-based Table Wraps Ltd. Komson names trends that involve “rich, opulent and luxurious fabrics; layers, details and shimmer; lots of interest in metallic, sequins and sparkles,” as well as chocolate, copper, gold, amber, burgundy and citron as hot hues for the fall season. The look is further enhanced with different table sizes and shapes, fabrics embellished with embroidery and beading, as well as fabrics that are iridescent and shimmery.

As the trend moves away from a spare, modern look, it's no wonder that, “Today, people are open to a little sexiness and extravagance in their tabletop look through the linen,” Martin says. Wildflower Linen has been successful with its “corset” chair covers, which come in two different styles: “an elegant half-corset of silk laced up the back with beads” and a “down-and-dirty corset in ‘leather’ with heavy metal grommets and leather lace, which is great for entertainment industry and music events,” Martin says. “Why use linens just for the table?” she adds. “We've covered furniture cubes and food boxes and even bars with linen with great success. It's fun and unexpected and adds another layer of interest to the look of an event.”

Linen companies caution that embellished linen requires special handling. Klodnick recalls a wedding where the groom's family surprised the couple by handing out sparklers to everyone during the first dance. “Unfortunately, when guests are sitting around the table holding sparklers, they don't realize that they're creating thousands of tiny holes in the tablecloth. Apparently it was an amazing effect, but when all of the cloths were ruined and they were ordered by the bride's family … it probably didn't start the marriage off on the right foot!”

Although customers have good intentions when they wash dirty linen after an event, linen companies caution against it. “We ask our clients never to clean our linen themselves,” Komson says. “Let us do all the work! Our machines are set up specifically for the types of fabrics we use.”


A-1 Tablecloth Co., 201/727-8987; L'Nique Linen Rental, 216/986-1600; Tabletoppers Inc., 800/785-8885; Table Wraps Ltd., 516/334-8833; Wildflower Linen, 714/965-7775

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