For several years Stahl have traditionally made a fashion presentation in Santa Croce, Italy, in the autumn. The timing has been related to the Italian leather fairs such as Lineapelle. This year has, for the first time ever, seen a highly successful break with tradition.

While still in the concept stage, Stahl’s Santa Croce Fashion Presentation, covering the proposed autumn/winter 2008/2009 trends, was made in May, much earlier, at a time when useful feedback from the tanners and their designers could still be incorporated in the final versions of the Trend Books and Colour Forecast poster.

Instead of making the presentation to a single large audience, Stahl opted to produce a series of individually tailored presentations over a period of five days. Rini van Vonderen from the Stahl Design Studio in Milan was brought in to show her early fashion trend boards and some of the huge collection of material swatches which were used to make the predictions.

Because the invited audiences were small, individual attention was possible to meet to the needs of the particular leather manufacturer. As this unique approach had been announced in advance, a number of customers brought along their designers, a valuable first that provided a fascinating opportunity to discuss colours, effects, the use of leather in fashion, and the ways in which Stahl, through their design studio and applications laboratories, can meet individual customer requirements.

Additional support was given by staff from Stahl’s headquarters in Waalwijk, The Netherlands, and by their Santa Croce agent, Taddei and Manzi & CSPA who provided all the necessary facilities.

Visitors were given a fascinating presentation based on the six new trends for autumn/winter 2008/2009. They saw a series of Colour Cards, and an analysis of surfaces, volumes and shapes in vogue for the future, projecting forward eighteen months into the future to provide advanced information for tanners and designers to develop their leather collections.

Stahl’s Fashion Presentations are aimed at all age groups. The ideas generated from these concepts are to be used for the production of leather for fashion applications designed to catch the eye of anyone interested in fashionable clothing, footwear and home design. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of the forecast took on board fashions for the young and the young-at-heart with a high couture sense of reliving various fashion Revivals.

The Colour Cards were divided into six themes:

* Daily Luxury aims at the traditional classic look. Colours are graphic and disciplined on precious, reflective surfaces. Shapes are structured and stylish.

* Electric Party provides us with the glamour for the evening with a rainbow parade of colours on polychrome shiny surfaces.

* Eco-Energy is the natural look of leather with a somewhat blurred appearance on authentic, genuine surfaces.. Shapes are modern with a lack of structure.

* Up-dated Vintage brings in rich memories of revived fashions.

Old-fashioned harmonies vie with surfaces that show a strong sense of second-hand while shapes have a strong retro charm in their appeal to today’s fashion world.

* History Surfing is for the Avant-Garde look with mineral colours that include Gloomy Metallics and Eroded Décor which reflect the futuristic cyber look by using invading surfaces that encroach on each other. Surfaces are strongly sculptural.

* Athletic Show-off mixes dance with sport by using high profile contrasting colours such as Electric Glitter and Laser Light, often on performance metallic surfaces.

Each one of these themes plays a strong and innovative part in the winter fashion scene. Together they create a strict and determined general trend under the direction of the Stahl Design Studio.

Central to the overall theme is a group of five strong colours, Dark Slate, Pewter, Plumkitten, Graphite Blue and Black Forest. These are interspersed in a picture of newness in each theme with vibrant Bronze and Copper as the inspirational metals for winter alongside pale cool invisible metal tones.

Themes: There is an unmistakable general trend running throughout all six themes:

* Contemporary, this underlying trend revolves around a fundamental thought, ‘Richness above all’.

* Classic returns strongly to the fashion scene and is considered as the best choice for an exquisite, timeless style. Characterised by the valued looked of totally refined leather, the Classic Look is one of pure inspiration derived from the elegant beauty of horses and their gentle moves, providing a feeling of a never-ending lifestyle.

* Electric Party is a theme inspired by the colours and shapes of a modern joyful style. The reflection of light is more permanent and influences the look of surfaces giving a complete but nevertheless lit-up superficial appearance similar to that of a jazz- or rock-club. It is glossy! It reflects precious sparkling effects! Also relevant to this theme is the softness of touch on the leather that gives a special feeling of closeness. Another happily accepted re-invention is the use of metallic effects for renewing colours not in a fully metallised way but more with an appearance of burnished metal.

* Casual Natural is a theme that will be absolutely striking in winter 2008/2009. Very much the antithesis to the cold weather of winter, the look will be elegant and sober, catching the eye for a longer gaze rather than a quick glance. The theme is defined by double directions. It is fuzzy and nebulous. It shows a return of highly waxy surfaces. It is seen as through a mist, on the other side of polished and shiny surfaces, slightly aged and used with broken effects.

* Vintage is a theme that is considered mainly for lovers of historic couture. Full of fantasy prints, it is covered by delicate decorations for a retro charming appearance on leather.

* History surfing is an unfailing theme characterised by medieval elements mixed with, and influenced by a futuristic cyber view of life. The look keeps close to the richness of renewed metallics on dark matt colours. Think of old gun barrels on the ramparts of ancient forts or the armour worn by medieval warriors. Even so there is a delicacy and a visionary view of a décor frozen in poetry.

* Athletic Show-off is the final and largest innovative theme. This is a completely different way of practising sports, being seen in the outdoors rather than being hidden. In the gym there is a change towards a moving disco approach. Having fun! Running and dancing! Boring colours are now enhanced with sparkling and glamorous shiny lights that vibrate almost with a request for party dresses!

Finally, throughout the Stahl Design Studio’s themes, colours immediately complement each other, creating an interest by their own ability to restyle a look. They are entertaining on a wintry night. Pure and enchanting they are clearly right for the occasion and highly saleable.

This is Stahl’s own view of contemporary trends. High quality and creativity combine with ‘Made in Italy’ ideas to give a brilliant and futuristic injection to the autumn/ winter 2008/2009 season.