by Nicole Crews

Me: Oscar de la Renta is dead.

Mother: I know. You met him in High Point, right?

Me: Yeah. In the Century showroom when he was doing a collection for them. He fingered my jacket and I said, “Alexander McQueen. It was a lifetime investment.” He said, “So much better than a house.”

Mother: And you can take it with you. At least to the casket.

Furniture, in many ways, is the country cousin to fashion. It tries to fit in, adopt the fanciful ways of its stylish relative and more often than not this parvenu of the parlor is successful. It may take a few years for the clumsy cousin to catch up, but she inevitably arrives, and when she does it’s usually in High Point.

Twice annually, the sleepy, hollowed-out wasteland of downtown High Point transforms itself into a 10 million-square-foot DMZ (the Designer Mile Zone) of furniture fashion — and it continues through this week. You’ll see Bravolebrity designers like Jeff Lewis of “Flipping Out” and Interior Therapy and Candace Olson of HGTV’s “Divine Design” and “Candice Tells All” pounding the pavement of Main, Wrenn, Green, Elm, Commerce and High along with the salesmen, girl Fridays, designers, execs, PR wonks and hired hands of High Point Market. If you’re lucky, you might also see one of the myriad celebs with a licensing agreement peddling their wares. From Jaclyn Smith and Martha Stewart all the way to Jeff Foxworthy and Cher — the entertainment industry has emblazoned its brand on the furniture world.

Me: Can you believe Kevin Sorbo has a collection?

Mother: Who’s that?

Me: Hercules.

Mother: What’s next, the Ernest Borgnine Collection?

It also brings fashion designers. Bob Mackie, Halston, Oscar de la Renta and Karl Lagerfeld have all hallowed the halls of North Carolina’s largest event. After all, it’s the largest home-furnishings industry trade show in the world and according to a Duke University study last year, it brings approximately $5.5 billion to the area. It is housed in approximately 180 buildings and delivers upwards of 70,000 warm bodies from more than 100 countries to the Triad each April and October.

Me (late and dashing to market with a dirty ponytail to interview Karl Lagerfeld): It is such an honor to meet you. I am a huge fan of your work. I hope I’m not late.

Lagerfeld (sporting the same do): I like your ponytail.

Mother (after telling her of this encounter): Never apologize for your tail. Pony or otherwise.

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So what do all of these designers, celebs and fashion gurus have in store for us this season? I asked Lisa Ferguson, a Vancouver-based designer, founder of the design think tank DecorMentor and curator of trends for the High Point Market Authority. “There is a great deal of texture out there right now. I think people are really cocooning and that texture adds depth, warmth and interest to the home,” she says. “People don’t want furniture to just look good. They want it to feel good too. It’s a tactile thing.”

High Point style spotter and principal designer of Studio M in Tampa, Michelle Wiebe agrees. “Exotic woods, sheepskin, faux fur, feathers and shagreen — sort of a shark skin — are everywhere and organic shapes are huge,” she says, “Colors have taken a bit of a backseat and we are seeing more neutrals — especially in grays. Indigo is emerging and there are pops of red, but we are seeing more details in lieu of color.”

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth — minus the ponytail.

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