One of GT’s most striking table runners, from the new "Alibaba" collection, finds exotic inspiration in the "Thousand and One Nights" fables: A satiny damask cloth (22"x59") is woven with a dramatic ladder pattern of multi-hued stripes and accented with eastern symbols, columns and other decorative motifs. The runner and matching napkins set different moods for dining, with three distinctive colorways: "Touareg" is patterned in rich, deep blues and purples, bordered with contrasting lime-gold ribbon-stripes. Offering a second vibrant scheme, the stunning "Tenere" shines in hot shades of red-orange, with curry and maroon border stripes. The Alibaba design also is interpreted in a bright green version, for a fresh lively look, aptly titled, "Oasis.

A popular option for upscale, as well as trendy restaurants, fashionable runners are especially favored to warm up the minimalist, unadorned Asian-style tabletop. Also, many restaurant operators have discovered that a beautiful fabric runner can actually enhance fine wood-grain tables.

Adding momentum to the runner style, fabrics can be tailored to the table. The elegant Mille Couleurs designs, for example, are all-over patterns that also are available as runners that can be custom cut to fit a small bistro or long buffet table.

Restaurateurs have devised their own individual ways of decorating with fabric runners: For a formal hotel setting, for instance, runners can be arranged in crisscross pattern, to serve all sides of a table. Or the runner simply might be layered over a white tablecloth, to enliven the setting – and room décor.

From every angle, handsome new runners can give conventional table linens a run for the fashion money when it comes to creating imaginative tablescapes.