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TREND Polka dots are big, bold -- and back



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



These are not your mother's polka dots. And they're hot.

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

Polka dots have come full circle.

Handbag designer Kate Spade adores them. Nicole Kidman wore them to the Venice Film Festival. Hartmann even put them on a luxe line of luggage.

Get ready for the home invasion. They're finding their way onto everything from frying pans to wallpaper. You'll find polka dot bakeware, polka dot glass votives and bowls, even polka dot cocktail shakers and sheets.

How hot are they?

Target.com recently featured a 14-inch-high lamp with big, bold red polka dots on a white shade in its Red Hot Shop, the part of its Web site dedicated to cutting-edge style.

The folks at The Company Store catalog were surprised when the 220-thread-count polka dot sheets in the January catalog sold out immediately. The catalog is still taking orders, but customers will have to wait until the new stock arrives.

And the new Chicago office for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency is sporting pink polka dot upholstery.

Laura Daily, vice president of merchandising for the always fashion forward Ballard Designs catalog, agrees that dots are sizzling. They're retro with a twist and they tap into the return to femininity trend in fashion.

"They are not the polka dots of yesterday," she says. "We did them in chocolate brown and white. It's putting a new twist on an old classic. Everyone thinks polka dots are little. When you blow them up big, they become fresh."

Polka dots also look fresh on the upholstery of Storehouse's "Marilyn Chair," which features a multi-circle tapestry in pumpkin, gold and lime green ($649).

Another new twist on retro dots is on the "Polo" wallpaper by Graham & amp; Brown. The paper, which has a tint in the ink to make the background appear shiny, features both filled-in dots and dots with a hole in the center. (It sells for $19.99 a double roll, which covers 56 square feet.)

"The polka dots are really playing on the retro look we have seen during the past year," says Andrea Topper, vice president of marketing for Graham & amp; Brown. "It's taking retro and making it a lot more contemporary. It's a funkier, trendier look that has interest in the younger market."

Villeroy & amp; Boch is also tapping into the trend with the "Wonderful World Polka Dot," featuring a colorful coffee pot ($100), creamer ($45) and covered sugar ($50) inspired by an archival design. They will be in stores in June.

"Polka-dotted designs are part of the retro craze, and I think it's resurfaced because it makes us feel good," says Isabelle von Boch, eighth-generation descendant of the founders of Villeroy & amp; Boch and the company's spokesperson in the United States

Here to stay

Whether they evoke a whimsical spirit or ignite retro memories, polka dots don't appear to be going away anytime soon.

Trend guru Michelle Lamb, publisher of "The Trend Curve" newsletter, says polka dots were all over the Jan. 12-15 Heimtextil, the world's biggest trade fair for home textiles and commercially used textiles in Frankfurt, Germany. Dots were found on shower curtains, towels, sheets and pillows. They were expressed as solid colored discs and concentric circles made of thin lines of small dots.

"I think that dots are playful, and that's why they are working now," she says. "As consumers look for some sort of whimsy to use for stress relief and to balance the increasingly serious world outside, dots fill the bill without going over the top."




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