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03-03-2008
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Polyester is the New Name in Paris Fashion (WSJ Story)
Gasp! Polyester Is the New Name In Paris Fashion

Silky Synthetics Pass
The Test for Armani;
Marcia Brady's Nightmare
By RACHEL DODES and CHRISTINA PASSARIELLO

It has been more than three decades since "The Brady Bunch" went off the air. But the memory of the yellow polyester dance outfit she wore on the long-running sitcom still haunts Maureen McCormick, who played the eldest Brady daughter, Marcia.
"I never wanted to see polyester again," says the 51-year-old Ms. McCormick, recalling how the material clung to her body and made her sweat.
But brace yourself. Polyester is back.
As Paris fashion week wraps up, several designers are lauding polyester as high fashion's next big thing. Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, Nina Ricci's Olivier Theyskens and the American designer Narciso Rodriguez all have elaborate thousand-dollar polyester creations that women are starting to see in expensive stores.
Designers say recent improvements in the synthetic fiber have made polyester lighter, thinner and more delicate. Mr. Elbaz, who got a standing ovation for a series of $5,800 polyester evening gowns at his runway show last fall, said the texture of the new polyester was like cream. "It was so light," he said, as he rubbed an imaginary piece of cloth between his fingers.
To Mr. Theyskens, who also used polyester fabric for the first time last season, polyester is "an interesting subject." He likes it. But the fabric does have its limitations. Because it's so thin and stretchy, the new polyester is very difficult to sew, and can't be ironed. Mr. Theyskens struggled with it last season, while trying to create a diaphanous pleated gown with a metallic sheen. "You must handle polyester with care," he says.
The gauzy, light polyester that designers are using today is a far cry from the stiff cardboard-like Dacron suits mass-marketed in 1954. The thick DuPont yarn made from petrochemicals was pushed as a godsend for postwar Americans because it didn't stain, didn't require ironing, dried quickly and was cheap to produce. Its unique ability to absorb and retain dye prompted a fashion craze that came and went quickly in the funky 1960s and 1970s, when people who should have known better snapped up clothing in loud, psychedelic colors. The sculpted doubleknit polyester leisure suit followed and was just as ridiculous.
Just as John Travolta was dominating the dance floor in a white three-piece polyester suit in the 1977 movie "Saturday Night Fever," polyester hit its high-water mark. The U.S. apparel industry used more than a billion pounds of polyester filament yarn that year, according to the Fiber Economics Bureau. By 1987, following a back-to-the-earth uprising against synthetics, the industry was using less than half as much.
For many who lived through polyester's groovy heyday, the fabric still conjures up horror stories. Randy Jones, the original cowboy from the singing group The Village People, recalls partying one night in 1977 at Studio 54, the New York nightclub, when a woman got too close to a candle and set fire to her polyester wrap dress. "Someone threw a fur coat on her and put it out, and the music never stopped," says Mr. Jones.
Polyester "was gross. It was horrible. It was just so cheesy," recalls singer Gloria Gaynor, 58, who remains famous for her 1978 disco anthem, "I Will Survive." She recalls having to leave a polyester jacket open on stage to let in some air while she performed.
Neil Sedaka, 68, the chart topper of the 1950s and 1960s, says he was wearing a polyester jumpsuit while performing for a sold-out crowd during his comeback in the 1970s when it split up the back. "To that extent, we can say that polyester breathes well," he says.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, polyester went undercover and got a sexier name: "microfiber." The thinner, lighter polyester fabric found new purpose in undergarments and athletic wear, where it wicks away moisture and protects against cold and wind.
Intrepid designers like Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani then began blending microfiber with cottons and wools in trench coats and suits to endow them with water- and wrinkle-resistant properties. Avant-garde Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons also experimented with the fiber throughout the 1990s.
But polyester's appearance in super-luxe European designer apparel is another matter. Its emerging popularity among prominent designers has been driven by both technological innovation and clever marketing.
Recently, Japanese producers of fabrics, facing competition from Chinese and Indian manufacturers, began developing new types of synthetics, such as super-fine satin, twill and crêpe, with light finishes that can't be achieved using natural fibers. Some are oil-resistant; others have what's called fabric memory stability. That is, the fabric can be molded to hold a particular shape. One new type of Japanese polyester fiber is 1/40th the thickness of a human hair.
In 2006, Toray Industries, Japan's biggest maker of high-tech fibers, began to go after fashion designers throughout Europe and exhibited at the prestigious fashion-textile show Première Vision in Paris. The company called its fabrics the "Pride of Gousen." Gousen is the Japanese word for synthetic textiles. Labels including Lanvin, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton placed orders. While still a small part of the company's business, Toray's "high value-added materials" aimed at designer brands have quadrupled in sales over two years, to about $18 million in 2007, the company says.
When he first encountered some of the new polyesters in the late 1990s, Mr. Rodriguez, the designer, says he loved the fabric. And so did retailers, until they found out it was polyester. Over the past several years, however, Mr. Rodriguez says, most retailers have calmed down because they now realize how appealing the new fibers are. This season, he showed polyester-silk blended garments on the runway.
Consumers who once thumbed their noses at polyester now deem the fabric très chic. "If Lanvin uses it, then it's cool," says Tracey Overbeck, an interior designer in Austin, Texas, who has bought several polyester-blended ensembles by designer Diane von Furstenberg.
Giorgio Armani, an early adopter of the new synthetics, says he now prefers polyesters to natural fabrics such as linen, which wrinkles. The Italian designer, who himself enjoys wearing cashmere-and-polyester blend jackets, urges men to wear blends for better fit and elasticity.
These days polyester, is anything but cheap, in part because of the soaring cost of the fossil fuels from which it is derived. A pair of pure polyester women's pants from Armani Collezioni sells for $615. The highest-quality polyester fabrics top out at about $37 per meter. That's more expensive than some silks.
But although it has gone upmarket, polyester hasn't lost its disco groove. In the yet-to-be released 2008 French comedy "Disco," actor Franck Dubosc plays a middle-aged deadbeat named Didier Travolta, who boogies to '70s hits in an electric-blue synthetic fabric pantsuit. "The jacket was tight and it made it difficult to move," in his dance scenes, the actor says. "But it gave me wings."
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03-03-2008
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(images and story from wsj.com)

In the 1990s, daring designers like Giorgio Armani began experimenting with polyester blends, which endowed wool and cotton with anti-wrinkle properties. Mr. Armani to this day swears by polyester. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said that natural fibers like linen are "a disaster" because of their tendency to wrinkle.
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03-03-2008
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Today, polyester is gaining popularity again. For Nina Ricci's Spring 2008 fashion show in Paris, designer Olivier Theyskens used polyester fabrics to create a lighter-than-air ethereal feeling, like in the pictured dress. Mr. Theyskens says that working with polyester was extremely difficult because it is so light and challenging to pleat and sew.
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03-03-2008
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Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz got a standing ovation when looks like this hit the runway last season. The fabric is made of 100% polyester, which Mr. Elbaz said reminded him of cream.
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Designer Narciso Rodriguez used polyester-blend fabrics and other synthetics in his Fall 2008 collection, which he unveiled at New York fashion week in February. Mr. Rodriguez says he's inspired by fabric technology and often visits Paragon Sports, an athletic gear emporium in New York, to check out the latest in synthetic athletic gear. This sleek black dress is made out of a silk-polyester fabric and will retail for $1,625.
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03-03-2008
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I remember in October when the reviews for that Lanvin show came out and talked about how a lot of the fabrics were polyester, I was shocked. I mean, those clothes draped beautifully and the fabric looked gorgeous to the touch.

I definitely want to see it in person to see what it really is like.

I don't think this is so shocking though. With this current obsession for techno fabrics (shiney, plastic coated, metallic) and also for interesting textures in fabrics, synthetic fibers are kind of a must at some point. There's only so much you can do with pure silk to make it look like rubber.

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03-03-2008
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lol...100% polyester dress from lanvin......thats so 1976 lol..the twins poly and ester are back in full form lol

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04-03-2008
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Oh yeah, W has a similar article this month, which managed to plug Lanvin plus the John Waters film Polyester within the same breath...

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05-03-2008
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Get out, I never would have thought that Lanvin was polyester! It's beautiful, the way it hangs is amazing...
I love my vintage polyester dresses Statics a b*tch but the prints are luscious.

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06-03-2008
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i don't like the static aspect too ^

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spike413 View Post
....I don't think this is so shocking though. With this current obsession for techno fabrics (shiney, plastic coated, metallic) and also for interesting textures in fabrics, synthetic fibers are kind of a must at some point. There's only so much you can do with pure silk to make it look like rubber.
True there is so much possibilty for innovation with synthetic fibers -it's wonderful !
One thing maybe not mentioned in the article is that you can find breathable fabrics now
I don't really experience any of the horrors mentioned in the article, like the stiffness.. I was quite okay with the material myself. But polyester fleece does have this weird touch to it

Also on the Marni shopping website,
you can see a lot of their clothing will be made of synthetics They have a really nice look to them...something you cant' have with a 100% natural fabric

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06-03-2008
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Quote:
...something you cant' have with a 100% natural fabric
granted, polyester fabrics can be made to look like silk, chiffon, cotton jersey...but with a synthetic twist

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06-03-2008
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yes that's what makes them magnifique ^
they can be anything !

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06-03-2008
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At a designer pricepoint synthetics have come a long way.

It's replicating those fabrics at affordable mass market prices that gets tricky, because I'm sure that Lanvin's poly costs a fortune to make and buy for it to drape that beautifully.

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06-03-2008
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Polyester has never been hotter.

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06-03-2008
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Now if only they care more about polyester in menswear ...except from the garbage bag futuristic nylon/polyurethane, I've yet to come across any interesting polyester use

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