A monthly blog about the sensory experience of New York City

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TOUCH: Mood Designer Fabrics

Silk charmeuse. Iridescent chiffon. China silk habotai. Poplin, corduroy, and velvet. Shangtung. Houndstooth and herringbone. Tuile. Lace. These are just some of the treasures that await on the third floor of 225 West 37th Street.

Wedged between a loading dock and a scaffolding, number 225 looks just like any other garment-district office building--were it not for the hordes of twentysomething design assistants in skinny jeans and boots crowding into the elevator and spilling out onto the third floor. They roam the narrow aisles stacked floor to ceiling with rolls of fabric, clutching scraps of paper torn from magazines, trying to match color and texture to the feathers of a bird, or the feeling of a night sky. Mood salespeople scurry between the bolts with enormous shears, lopping off samples left and right.

But for the casual visitor, Mood Designer Fabrics offers a feast for the fingers. There’s nubbly tweet and itchy netting, tufted shags and glinting sequins. Rich brocades and heavy quilting loll in one corner, while filmy chiffon and lace flutter from another. Rows of trim offer dangling pompoms, crystalline baubles, and tickling fringes. There’s a section of feathers, and one of eyelet leather and slippery vinyl, and a more sedate corner of wool suiting. Perhaps lurking between the taffeta and the seersucker is the next fabric to adorn models on Paris runways and plastic hangers in Chinatown knockoff booths.