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COLOR MY WORLD
FASHION TRENDS -- LIKE THIS SPRING'S EYE-POPPING COLORS -- ARE MOVING INTO THE HOME MORE QUICKLY THAN EVER

This spring, you can slip into a dress bursting with orange irises or slip under a duvet splattered with orange poppies.

You can dive into the deep end dressed in a polka dot bikini or dive into dinner served on a polka dot plate.

Turquoise jewelry is hot. So are turquoise walls (just check out the cover of the May issue of Metropolitan Home magazine).

Home trends have always followed on the heels of fashion, but the connection between the two has grown stronger than ever -- with little lag time.

This season, narrow stripes are popular in sportswear -- and housewares. Butterflies have taken flight as the critter of the season. And just take a look at the colors of outdoor dinnerware -- tangerine, lime green and turquoise -- and you might as well be looking at the spring sportswear palette.

Alternatively, soothing oceanic blues and greens are breezing through home and fashion for those looking for an escape -- even if they get it from blue wave sheets or a tide stripe blouse.

It used to take six months or longer for a color trend or pattern to cross over from the fashion runway to the home. These days -- due to the Internet and increased consumer exposure to trends -- that's not so true anymore.

"It is much quicker, and the transition time of trends is quicker. Trends rise and fall quicker than ever," said local design consultant Karen Fick.

It is no coincidence that certain colors become the hot hues for any one season - whether it's on bedding or beach wear. That's because trends are years in the making, their development closely monitored.

Pantone Inc., for example, is a company that monitors color trends for design clients years in advance - keeping a close watch on magazines, advertising, art exhibits, movies, books, the economy, global issues and more for color cues.

"Pantone analyzes and sells the information to clients two years before most consumers ever begin to take notice," the Wall Street Journal recently reported in a story about how blue and brown evolved as the "it" colors for next fall.

"Pantone also polls designers and manufacturers to discern popular colors and produce color-planning guides. These charts help influence mass-market fashion companies . . . as well as car companies, home-appliance makers and customers that have discovered color's ability to compel people to buy new products more often," the Journal continued.

Textile producers often are the first to pick up on seasonal color trends, and fashion designers in turn use the fabrics in their collections. Once that happens, the colors spin through the design world - showing up on everything from T-shirts to toasters.

In addition, just as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and other "lifestyle" designers did before them, you now have Isaac Mizrahi creating both clothing and home furnishings lines and handbag maven Kate Spade designing fine china.

They can't help but bring their fashion sensibility to home products.

This season's brighter colors especially appeal to people who want to leave bad weather - and bad news - behind. It also appeals to a generation that is growing up with graphic media. They want their luggage lime, their iPod minis pink.

"People want things that make them feel more alive, more positive. People want to buy cheer - the bright colors that give them the vicarious feeling of cheer," Fick said.

When you see a splashy floral print on a dress, it can't help but make you smile. But then you see that eye-popping poppy print on bed linens, too.

"It's not enough to wear it, you want to sleep on it, too," Fick said.

It's all about exposure - what people see on the Internet and on television.

"People want to feel connected. They walk into Target or another store and see something that simulates something they have seen on a runway model, in a magazine or on TV and they want to own it," said Fick.

Take a look at what is out there for spring and summer in home decor and what you will find are plenty of fashion-oriented colors and patterns:

Among the trends:

Polka dots: Tie it into the preppy trend of recent years, but polka dots put a whimsical spin on bowls, plates, bedding, belts, scarves and more.

Splashy florals: Isaac Mizrahi, for one, uses oversized - as in larger-than-life - flowers on his new home collection for Target. Picture a clear shower curtain with an enormous tulip or a duvet set with orange and pink gigantic poppies.

Elsewhere, oversized flowers decorate place mats and bedding, with key colors being pink, orange, yellow, turquoise and green. Clothing and accessories also features splashy floral prints, from beach bags to strapless dresses.

Butterflies: Their ethereal motifs show up on scarves, spring coats and dresses. They also land on pillows, dress up fabrics and dinnerware and give shape to wall hooks, napkin rings and garden stakes.

But again, it is no accident. Butterflies are not just a design trend; they also represent rebirth.

What it all means?

"We're coming out of our cocoons and spreading our wings," Fick said.

Hanging your coat on a butterfly hook is just the beginning.

e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com