NATURAL HUES AND glamorous weaves may seem at odds with each other. But in the area of event linen, they're getting together with beautiful results, experts say.

EARTH FIRST

In his East Coast region, Daniel DiDio sees a still-sensitive social atmosphere as a major influence on the new linen aesthetic. “Clients are telling me they want it to be comfortable, subtle,” says the design director for Secaucus, N.J.-based Dazian, which creates custom linen for events and theater. In response to the event climate, he has been developing several new color collections, including Naturals — a series of white, beige, soft blue and pale terra-cotta shades.

According to Mitchell Bluethman, nature-based tones also are topping sales at Jomar Table Linens, Ontario, Calif. Among Jomar's popular products are a cornflower-blue poly-satin, as well as a rose-plum organza, which is “moving like crazy,” Bluethman says.

For Spring Valley, N.Y.-based Cloth Connection, nature's influence is evident in apple-green crushed velvet — currently a “very popular” item, according to vice president Michael Davis. Even high-end events are going natural, Davis adds, pointing to a recent bash for HBO at New York's Four Seasons hotel, which featured Cloth Connection table linen in earth-tone embroidered silk.

IN TOUCH

While color gets down to earth, linen texture is taking an elegant turn, according to manufacturers.

At Clifton, N.J.-based Something Different Linen, washable Bengaline moiré, crushed satin and taffeta are hot sellers, says vice president Aracelis Baez. She adds that budget-conscious buyers can benefit from Something Different's Pongee — a lightweight, durable polyester cloth with a taffeta hand.

Opulent materials are moving well for Roswell, Ga.-based Creative Tables, reports company president Valerie Levin. She cites organdy and hand-beaded silk as two of her operation's “most sought-after table linens.”

Clients with a taste for bolder textures are looking toward layers, she adds. “They might put a white linen hemstitch over a burlap undercloth … or mix black velvet with a crisp white Irish cotton organdy.”

At Paterson, N.J.-based Tablecloth Co., leading layers include Cottunique spun polyester paired with floral-pattern Baroque damask. The combination provides “the matte background that many damask buyers are looking for right now,” notes company owner Judith Metzger-Kramer.

FESTIVE SEATING

Chair covers are among the hottest commodities for Skokie, Ill.-based BBJ Linen, says company president Judy Goldberg. Meanwhile, chair covers paired with contrasting chair-back covers are becoming a trend for Tablecloth Co., says Metzger-Kramer.

Intent on taking chair covers into new territory, Houston-based Distinctive Details has introduced a version of its “slipper” chair cover — originally designed for chiavaris — for hotel chairs. The new product comprises two pieces: a chair- back cover with a foam insert that can turn a rounded chair back into a square back, and a fitted seat cover with a tailored skirt. The cover's Lycra fabric can be “custom dyed in any color of the rainbow,” says company president Francesca Nilsen. “It works beautifully, and, seeing that the pieces are separate, it allows for the cover to come out of ironers with no wrinkles.”




RESOURCES

BBJ Linen, 800/722-0126; Cloth Connection, 845/426-3500; Creative Tables, 800/992-1105; Dazian, 800/232-9426; Distinctive Details, 713/394-9579; Jomar Table Linens, 866/390-1444; Something Different Linen, 800/422-2180; Tablecloth Co., 800/227-5251