From Showroom To Runway

A look at the increasingly well-traveled intersection between fashion and design

A chair with a curved back reminiscent of a collar can be a tip of the hat to the fashion world. Inspired by fine furniture, a fashion designer might add a whimsical fringe to a skirt or jacket. On-trend colors, patterns, and textures regularly cross the boundaries between furniture and fashion, creating a cross-pollination that reshapes the definition of style in both disciplines.

Highly publicized collaborations between prominent fashion designers and established home furnishings brands are increasing as consumers demand a full lifestyle experience. The established equity in each brand creates a synergy that benefits both. Fashion designers who have translated their signature styles into High Point showrooms include couture masters such as Badgley Mischka, and iconic brands such as Kelly Wearstler and Ralph Lauren for E. J. Victor. Presenting their collections at Market, they gain access to a luxury home and furniture sector that will reach $27 billion by 2020, according to Allied Market Research.

Market launches provide endless inspiration and opportunity for style appropriation to fashion houses seeking to own the next elusive trend. The recipients of the International Society of Furniture Designers’ Pinnacle Awards represent a fertile source of original ideas. Recognized for aesthetic appeal, artistic application of materials, and innovative functionality, top submittals reflect the “ever-expanding awareness of the impact of product design on the marketplace,” according to ISFD Executive Director John Conrad. Clothing designers hunting for a fresh perspective will find plenty of novelty and transferable ideas in the whimsey, sophistication, crisp tailoring, versatility, and exquisite attention to detail this year’s winning designs exemplify.

While celebrity fashion designers have been partnering with home furnishings manufacturers for years, international clothing brands are now seeking acclaimed interior designers to create their collections. “The folks at MaxMara had been following me on Instagram for years,” said Anthony Baratta, whose fashionable furnishings can be seen in the Wildcat Territory showroom. “They asked me to collaborate on a weekend collection for Summer 2019 by imagining that I was dressing the women who live in the East Coast resort homes I have designed, and creating a line inspired by their distinctive taste and lifestyle.”

Baratta’s Nantucket collection launched at Milan Fashion Week, in September 2018. He joined the MaxMara sales team to entice showroom visitors with stories of its elite East Coast provenance. “MaxMara had done their research before they called me,” said Baratta. “They knew we’d turn heads, and the reaction was phenomenal. When international buyers and the global press saw the bold colors and mixed patterns, their enthusiastic responses were a validation of my aesthetic which is selecting stronger colors than most designers. It occurred to me that many people in this world are starved for color. I was honored to open up their world by dressing women instead of their homes!”

As the disciplines of fashion and home furnishings move even closer together, we expect to see more designers following this path from showroom to runway. More and more, the possibility of seeing design ideas that launched in High Point show up on runways increases.