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Archive for September, 2008...

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Who dresses to wow ‘em in the office every work day?  Who keeps a keen eye out for what other women are wearing, what’s new, what’s fun, what’s flattering?  Who wants to look great … but still pretty much keep to a budget?  

                                           The working woman!

This huge group has everything you’d want in a customer:  Every payday gives her some spending money for personal indulgences like jewelry and other accessories.   She spends time planning her wardrobe, and walks out her door every morning with a fresh, fashionable look. 

 

NEW FASHION CONSCIOUSNESS:   Think the huge, oversized necklaces that are so popular now aren’t “quite right” for the office?  Think again!  All the old rules of played-down, conservative dressing are gone with the last century!  Women everywhere, in every type of business, have a new freedom in career fashion.  Bling is In?  Bring it on for 9 to 5!  Skip the single strand of  dainty pearls – choose instead the “landscape” multiple gold or silver plated longer chains dripping with lustrous pearls or crystals and colorful glass beads!

 

Never before have women–your neighbors and mine–been so keenly aware of personal “packaging.”  Women of all ages are intent on creating a special, individual style that suits them, and that never has to be compromised by what was once a uniform dress code.

Leave the uniform style for the men, and there’s plenty of latitude in what the working woman can choose. 

 

BIG IS BEAUTIFUL:  And she invariably goes with current fashion hits:  Big rings, like chunky dome rings, bulky silver plated nugget rings, or mammoth CZ cocktail rings.  Big earrings, like huge hoops or jeweled buttons or chandelier types.  Lots of precious-look metal bracelets, especially big cuffs or bangles, and these can be sleekly modern or intricately ornate.  Necklaces of all lengths and types, the more the merrier.  Fashion watches whose color matches the outfit for the day.  Fashion sunglasses that also coordinate with that outfit, and are big enough to add an exciting aura of celebrity.   Accessories perceived as “status” are always high on the shopping list.

 

And brooches.  These can be a treasure for the ambitious working woman.  While others take liberties with their workday fashion, the woman who wants to be a CEO tends to hew to the “new conservative” mode.   A colorful suit will do, nicely tailored, with a stunning enameled or jeweled brooch a la, say, Martha Stewart, high on the left shoulder.  Add rich-looking samplings of in-vogue jewelry to complete the power look.

  

 

 

SUPER CUSTOMERS:  But the young, fresh-from-school working women are pure gold.  Most still live at home or share an apartment, so a greater proportion of their income can be lavished on themselves.  At this stage, they’re highly social and active in a wide range of venues – which means they want and buy lots of stuff yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Keep them coming with a steady product inflow of hot, trendy personal items.  A good pick now:  the oh-so-popular felt fedoras modeled in a slew of top designers’ fall shows.

 

Luggage-size handbags, hold-everything tote bags, business-keyed leather goods?  Women need them all for important papers, toting stiletto heels (or sneakers, when she switches footwear), a magazine or two, snacks and the ever present water bottle.

 

Today’s working women bring color, verve and vitality into the workplace every day.  It’s their style to adapt the environment to comfortably house both fashion and work performance.

 

Special Servicing:   In an office of any size, there are sure to be celebrations of fellow workers’ marriage, childbirth, retirement, or outstanding achievement.  This greatly expands the areas of product interest for your working women customers.  Sports-themed pins or key rings may have special appeal for the active player or fan.  If you are lucky to have repeat customers, see if she has a particular theme she loves; perhaps a certain color, or, say, a floral or modern-art motif.   And no one appreciates a special sale like a working woman!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

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The recent EMMY AWARDS stayed true to predictions, as fashion took over the show spotlight, almost overwhelming the actual TV winners. It was a spectacular night, the likes of which we have not seen in a number of years.  The fashions were fabulous, even spectacular, albeit somewhat conservative, classic, refined.  There was an air of Old Hollywood about the dresses and their accessories, masterfully designed, exquisitely fitted, overall beautiful.

 

Bold colors made strong statements.  Brooke Shields was riveting in a long, ruffled-back fuchsia dress and lovely diamond earrings.  Mariska Hargety of Law & Order was shocking in a bright canary yellow evening dress and somewhat small, conservative earrings.  Other big colors in sweeping designer dresses were blue, purple, black and white prints, and hot pink. 

 

EARRINGS REIGN:  This was a night of long dresses (although there were some short ones) and earrings, some of them big, many of them, very big.  Top couturier names were everywhere, leading with Armani and Badgley Mischka.  Chandelier earrings, especially, were very important.  Kate Walsh of Private Practice wore long crystal chandelier earrings elegantly. Jean Smart of Samantha Who? wore gorgeous long crystal waterfall chandeliers.  Ugly Betty’s Vanessa William’s was anything but ugly in pretty pearl and diamond drop earrings. 

 

picture by prphotos.com

picture by prphotos.com

A significant absence of necklaces could be detected at the Emmy’s, as practically all attention was given to earrings.  Still, holding on to the hot trendy necklace mood, America Ferrera wore a lovely, chunky blue bead and crystal choker over a sophisticated, simple black dress.  Very dramatic!

 

The men were in no mood for experimentation, either.  Each looked handsome and gentlemanly in classic tux and, here and there, cool shades. 

 

                                                        

FASHION WEEK IN LONDON brought out myriad hot trends to electrify the present Fall and going-forward Spring looks.  Here were pleats as only the English can do them, folds, drapes, cinches, and a continuation of the industry’s big ruffle-mania. The English modern reputation for far-out, wild designs took a far-second place to more refinement with classic designs and shapes. 

BIG, CREATIVE BRACELETS countered the more played down look evident across the runways.  The new Global Look bringing us rapidly through winter and into spring with a   dressier, more put-together look came through strongly here.  A rich brown pantsuit was finished with a little, jaunty hat and a bowed blouse.  A light-weight dress with lacy skirt led the parade at Graeme Black, accessorized by a very big black and red bracelet and a tight-to-the-head cap, very 1930s.   

Hair was very long at the London Show, sometimes pulled back tightly into a chignon, but mostly free-flowing, sometimes even messy-looking. Hair accessories were important. Makeup was played down, with a very white, pale, languid look surfacing.    Fine peach muslin shawls were a big point at Charles Anastase.  An unusually grown-up show from Julien Macdonald centered on a neutral color palette, and a lot of very simple, unembellished shapes. 

HEADBANDS, HEADBANDS:  The ideal answer to unruly long hair?  Get a plain or glitzy headband, and suddenly look chic! With her long blonde hair, Nicole Richie wears a sparkly headband American Indian-style around the forehead.  Peaches Geldof puts a black and white ribbed headband on, preppy-style, to keep her super-light, smoothed straight hair in place.  Isabella Fontana wears a bejeweled headband on her long red hair.  The band slips down in a V-shape on the forehead, giving added pizzazz and charm…a very Old English Court look.

 

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BACK ON THIS SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC:  Rachel Ray can’t seem to get enough necklace-action!  Seen at the runway shows in New York last week, Ray had on beaded necklace after necklace, running from high choker length to mid-bodice, multi-colored and spectacular!  Who noticed what she was wearing?  The jewelry took all the spotlight.

 

Alexa Chung wore short shorts, a medium-length jacket over a white blouse, and an absolutely terrific smooth leather tan tote – not too big, not too small!  Genevieve Jones, Stella Schnabel, and Stephanie Seymour were among the many lassies at last week’s fashion gig showing how good (and how bad) belts can look. They all wore dark leather belts of medium width.  Stella, it seems, is much too paunchy for this slim girl look, but the others looked terrific. Just one more indication of how important it is to know your body and to dress to fit it rather than the immediate trend.

 

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JUMP INTO THE LATEST TREND:   Jumpsuits are big in a big way, with just about every major American designer putting forth his or her own take on the super-popular outfit.  BCBG shows a light grey silk jumpsuit with a very wide black cinch belt. 

Proenza Schouler brought out an ivory-white jumpsuit with slim legs and old-fashioned halter-top design. Worn with the suit:  A small black leather bag hanging from a thin swingy leather shoulder strap, and a thin black belt, very simple, very plain, with a small silver buckle. Diane von Furstenburg showed a tan jumpsuit with a draped blousy top and orange-brown leather belt.  Her model carried a big tan and gold tote and sported a very big flower headband.

 

      MORE ON JUMPSUITS:  Philip Lim’s idea of what’s IN right now included a pale blue jumpsuit with jacket, multiple strand dark blue beads, and a big polka dot double handle bag in black, white, and tan leather. Carrying on the tan trend in jumpsuits were outfits from Derek Lam and Catherine Holstein, the latter done in a printed, slouchy material with a big brown belt, the former a silk look with lots of ties and buttons.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, September 29th, 2008

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NUMBER ONE:  Black is the hot color for 2008, and will probably hold strongly through much of 2009, as well.  Purple is the trendy color of the year, giving an updated look to practically all fashion it’s associated with.  But the big independent color – the one the Pantone Color Institute and its top level designer consultants rate as Number One for the year 2008 and for Spring 2009 — is BLUE.

This magnificent, aristocratic color never seems to leave the top color charts completely, no matter what color family is IN.  Perhaps that’s because everyone loves blue.  Survey after survey, year-in, year-out, show that the great majority of Americans list their favorite color as blue.  It is popular.  It is often mesmerizing. And, this year, it is more important than ever.  On top of which, it is even uptrending!

The fall blue color listed as number one by Pantone is Iris Blue, a rich blue with purple undertones. Also on the top ten list for autumn was Caribbean Blue, a tropical blue, and Twilight Blue, a darker, more navy-oriented color. A continuation of these colors for spring and holding Pantone’s Number One spring spot, is Palace Blue, considered to be a navy blue, but actually somewhat lighter and certainly with more sparkle and pop.

 

Think in terms of the traditional sapphire for a close gemstone color match to Palace Blue, although matching exactly is anything but important, since all blues are really IN.  (You might consider that the French, masters of fashion, tend to criticize Americans for their penchant for matching, which they call vulgar.  Ahhh, the French!)  Other important gemstones in the blue family (the actual number is amazingly high) are blue topaz, tanzanite, turquoise, aquamarine, blue aventurine, blue quartz, blue tourmaline, and, of course, the glorious, clean, bright blue lapis lazuli, the stone famous in the East for its beauty and reported healing properties.

 

BLUE LAPIS:  Consider a lapis lazuli semi-precious horn or heart pendant. The deep blue color of lapis works beautifully with earth tones, so popular this season.  Lapis also looks beautiful set in gold plate or sterling, and mixes well with other gemstones, making it ideal for upgraded fashion jewelry. But of course, it is blue…so what else would you expect?

 

Blue beads, blue gemstones, blue textiles and blue man-made jewels and materials are all of major importance this season, and are only gaining prominence as we move toward the New Year.  This is a color you just can’t go wrong with; it is classic, global, and transforming, with rich symbolism and imagery.  A handsome way of expressing the blue momentum is with a bead cluster stretch bracelet in olive and blue turquoise.  The unexpected color combination of green and blue shows just how flexible blue can be.

 

This is also a color with enormous marketing power, frequently representing individuals and situations of importance.  Think of the blue power suit of the corporate world, the blue uniform of police officers. Blue is also a banker’s color. Nurses often add the color blue to their white uniforms and caps. Blue jewelry for people in these professions is perfect!

 

Gifts of Blue:  Blue also represents trustworthiness and extreme reliability, such as someone committed to another person, or idea, or situation. With that in mind, think of blue jewelry gifts for weddings and anniversaries, or associate it with doctors, social workers, humane society members, and even the kind of person who volunteers to help build homes for Habitat.

 

Many people believe that blue radiates a special kind of light to all such giving people.  It has to do with soul connections, they say, things meaningful and sincere, things beyond the range of the everyday world. It is highly mystical.  Blue is expressed beautifully in a ceramic stretch bracelet made of glazed beads that look like old turquoise.  There is an added attraction here, beyond blue, and that is the antique factor that brings in a timeless character to the jewelry.

 

Likewise, blue is also considered the collective color of the spirit, generating a sense of oneness and interconnectedness, something we could all use more of in our present-day world. Naturally growing out of that is blue’s supposed ability to bring rest and relaxation as a powerful calming color.  Unlike other colors and symbols in our society, blue is not gender-restricted in any way.  It is equally popular with men and women, and sells equally well to both! 

 

BLUE BOOK:  Hey…but what about the word blue and its uses in our language?  This gets us into a wholly different idea of blue, one that is not always so lighthearted and gay.  There is, for example, nothing wonderful about feeling blue.  Or, coming up against some outdated blue laws.  Or having to deal with blue noses.  On the other hand, out of the blue can refer to a wonderful surprise, a blue ribbon winner is hot stuff, and true blue has real positive grit.  

 

And what is more American than singing the Blues?  This is a musical form that has red, white, and blue painted all over it.  Blues singing phenomenon Billie Holiday asked us years ago,   “Am I blue?” and answered it herself, saying, “You’d be too, if each plan with your man done fell through.”  That’s the real blues.

 

Stay with it for a while.  Sometimes feeling blue feels good.  Later, when you want to cheer things up a bit, you can always try slipping on a spear-shaped turquoise pendant. It is blue, too, but it works beautifully to neutralize the negative without doing it in. After all, we might be suffering but we all love the blues.  Another idea:  try adding a large turquoise pendant in the shape of a circle to your product mix.  Worn on a long chain, it combines color and movement trends for a double-mood benefit.

 

Blue has always been significant in religious beliefs.  Among other things, it is thought to keep evil spirits away.  In the Hindu religion, blue is the color of Lord Krishna.  In the Middle East, blue is considered a protective color.  To Catholics, blue is the color of the Virgin Mary.  Handsome blue lapis lazuli crosses have deep Christian significance and, at the same time, express Eastern and Western spirituality beautifully.

 

ART AND THE COLOR BLUE:  The Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh was especially fond of the color blue, and purposely used it to set a mood.  “Instead of trying to exactly paint what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of color to express myself more forcefully,” he said.  Monet made comparable visual statements with his moody and magnificent blue-toned water lily canvases. 

 

But perhaps the most electric artist in the blue field was the Dutch artist Jan Vermeer, whose unforgettable portraits of A Young Girl Wearing a Pearl Earring, or The Kitchen Maid demonstrated a blue so extraordinary it has entranced art lovers for centuries. 

 

Finally, one word about the color blue’s connection to water.  We’ve already mentioned water lilies, but there is so much more!  Almost any water activity or study has blue as a backdrop consciousness.  The Astrological Sign of Pisces is a water sign.  The implications are deep, intense.  A fitting product from the water is shell, taken from various sea animals and used for jewelry in many ways. One lovely aqua clam shell necklace and earrings set features dyed shell enhanced by sequins and glass seed beads, culminating in a fabulous bejeweled combination of the color blue and sparkling light.     

A water spectacular!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Accessory Trends, Fashion Trends
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ROCK MUSIC AND FASHION ARE INEXTRICABLY INTERTWINED —

ONE PROMOTES THE OTHER.  Magazine publisher Conde Nast created the annual Fashion Rocks TV concerts to give viewers rousing close-ups of these new music-based fashionistas.

 

 

Wow!  Did you see the Fashion Rocks TV show on CBS earlier this month?  Light! Cameras! Action!  In Radio City Music Hall, New York.  Gorgeous young rock stars, outfitted to the 9s, showing what it’s like to be ‘way on top. Every one singing their hearts out, always in motion to an insistent, throbbing beat, commanding your rapt visual and sound attention.  Rock Music and Rock Fashion Mode?  Nothing less than mind-blowing!

 

Headliners included Rihanna, Beyonce. Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, Fergie and lots more!  And the fashion connection was everywhere.  Favorites among the female performers were bangle bracelets and huge hoop earrings…exaggerating head and arm movement, flashing light.  But the tie-ins go far beyond the designerwear for the show.  Rihanna has inspired Marc Jacobs to name a bag after her.  And she just loves those oversize zippers that give zip to her sporty stage costumes. 

 

FROM MAMA TO ARMANI:  Beyonce started out wearing ensembles her mother made for her (she is collaborating with her mother on several new dress collections for women and teens.)  Now her designer choices range from Armani to Badgley Mischka.  Beyonce is so talented she writes song lyrics, and there’s lots to learn from this one:

 

            “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings.  The shoes on my

             feet, I’ve bought it.  The clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it.  The

             rock I’m rockin’, I’ve bought it.  ‘Cause I depend on me.”

 

Beyonce’s last name is Knowles, and her younger sister, Solange, was also on the show.  (She’s had a #1 single recording, “I Decided.)  Solange wanted to look different, have her total fashion look set her off, aside from everyone else on stage.  And she did!  She says she likes to play the “high and low” game, which means she combines top designer pieces with stuff from H&M and similar thrifty hip fashion sources.  “My approach is to look at fashion as an art.”

 

HOT LIFESTYLE:  Justin Timberlake is right in the forefront of rock-star crossing over into fashion icon.  His line, William Rast, has him starring in commercials as this low-life Southern guy named William Rast.  The clothing line is anything but low-life:  premium denim, leather jackets and edgy miniskirts.  He says “It’s all about lifestyle.”

 

Plenty of teens were on hand, too, like Taylor Swift, 18, who sold 3 million of her intro  album, and who’s now designing sundresses that will be sold-where?-at Wal-Mart!  She insists “My ideal outfit is a sundress and cowboy boots.”  Jordan Pruitt, 17, has her own music production company and has just signed her first artist, 10-year-old country singer Jesse Kirk.  Jordan is also spokesperson for Limited, and as a recording executive likes quick and easy fashion solutions.  That’s why she loves headbands:  “When your hair is wet, you can just put one on and you’re ready to go.” 

 

 

Then there’s Aly & AJ Michalka, sisters who’ve had a platinum first album and whose concert tour is being sponsored by makers of “Hello Kitty” lines.  But these girls are planning their own licensed product lines, including jewelry and hair accessories as well as clothing.  No wonder their latest album is titled “Insomniac.”

 

ROUGH STUFF:  And then there were the raunchy Pussycat Dolls, with their distinctive music and scanty costumes that are a takeoff on last century’s burlesque.  But very today, and very dominatrix.  These girls not only have had a multiplatinum hit, but used the key lyric on T-shirts and hoodies, crowing:  “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”
So hot they sold like hot cakes. 

 

This rough and tough segment of the music world and its myriad fans take strongly to silver – in chains, long earrings, multiple bracelets, and more.  Look for the leather connection, too, and white or clear stones flashing from rings and jacket (leather, of course) embellishments. Black is a major color here, from Victoria Secret undies-style to black bead and stone necklaces and earrings.  Like we said:  hot!

 

The rapper li’l Wayne may be short, but he stands tall in the star rankings.  And his fashion sense is big:  “I used to only wear white T’s,” he admits, “but I stepped it up a notch.”  His stylist Groovey Lew Jones describes his style as “anything from an antique to the latest Gucci, from Salvation Army vintage to the hottest high-fashion piece.”  Shrugs Wayne, “You just know I’m gonna look good.” 

 

      –How about some really trendy purple here? Think purple stones and little neckerchiefs featuring super-smart rock concert prints, again, in purple.  Almost gruesome.  Definitely desirable.    

 

And the guy from Detroit, Kid Rock, has sold over 24 million records since his debut in 1990.  The long-haired, goateed rocker gives a sizzling performance, and has to be given credit for being one of the first to wear his white ribbed T and fedora hat, now staples for the young “In” crowd.  He bought the clothing maker, Made in Detroit, and should prove to be a full-fledged fashion icon for the growing ranks of street-savvy Fashion Rockers.
 

     

Whether we’re talking about crosses or crucifixes,  bad-leather cuffs or spiky dog collars, sweet colorful bows or wild chain necklaces, jewelry and Rock go hand-in-hand, with Rock frequently setting the mood, pace, and imagery for the latest in fashion embellishment. Listen to what’s being said and you’ll get a fast push forward on what’s uptrending.  Music is definitely a style-setter.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

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A new gold rush is on, and watch out!  — Because if you are in the fashion accessories industry, you are right in the middle of it!  This is real gold hysteria, with a frenzy we haven’t seen in some time. It is a new excitement, a new drama, a new kind of lust for that shimmering stuff men have killed and died for over the centuries. 

 

Just look around you.  Gold handbags.  Gold stockings.  Gold shoes.  Gold dresses.  Gold hats.  And. of course, the wildest, richest, most desirable of all: gold jewelry. Ah, you may say, but “what has that got to do with costume jewelry and something less than Armani-priced wardrobes or Prada-cost bags?”  What, in other words, has that got to do with your business? 

    —Well, this is the shocker:  Right now, gold has everything to do with your business, your sales and your profits. 

 

GOLD PRICES SOAR: Consider this:  Prices for gold have shot up to the hemisphere, recently commanding as much as $1,000 an ounce.   And this is happening at a time when large, chunky, impressive jewelry is all the rage.  As a result, some young designers (and some well-known names as well) have chosen to continue making the popular large pieces, but (to keep prices affordable) to use gold plating rather than pure gold.

 

   — This is news!  With the newest electroplating technology, craftsmen can create unique jewelry with opulent looks, proven durability and resistance to scratching or mars.  And the amazing thing is this is gold, real gold, the kind second storey men risk their lives for, the kind that has set men mad with desire over the centuries. Well, yes, it is admittedly gold plate, but it is a new, more durable plate that looks, feels, shimmers and reacts just like pure gold, only at a fraction of the price. What could be better? 

 

So whether you’re in the market for a golden tiara studded with rhinestones (consider a “glowing candle light” tiara), or a wide modern basket weave textured cuff with sparkling gold finish, or dozens of  bracelets and cuffs that wrap around the wrist with this monied-pretending marvel, you are certain to find glittering pieces to your customers’ liking, whatever their age.  Because everyone loves gold!

 

TEARS OF THE SUN: The ancient Greeks believed gold was a solid merger of water and sunlight-what marvelous imagery!  And in a way, it did make sense: water, because gold was often found in streams, and sunlight, because of gold’s lustrous brilliance.  In the new world, the Incas called gold the “tears of the sun,” again connecting its color and dazzle to old Sol.  Gold has always had universal appeal, dating back thousands of years, to about 4000 B.C. But formerly, gold was limited to the very rich, only.

 

Today, all of that has changed. CZs or colorful, faux gemstones on the newest gold-plated chain necklaces catch the light, and shimmer with movement, as perceptually real as real can be! Gold chain necklaces have never been more popular. And it’s great to have a basic golden chain, just the right style and size, that hits you just so – and to have a variety of pendants or slides to use with it … some for every day, some for dress up, and some just for fun. 

 

 

A top seller is a large, dome-shaped faux amber pendant with gold-plated overlays with embedded crystals.  Try ignoring that!  Or, try overlooking the spectacular geometric gold-plated pendants on the market right now, many with raised relief; pendants that capture and reflect light and are as resplendent at an afternoon garden party as an evening affair.

 

 

IT’S THE IMPACT THAT MATTERS:  Brooches especially benefit from golden touches, and images of birds, flowers and butterflies combine enameled color and precious-metal appearance to enhance today’s fashions.   Gold-plated earrings, drop earrings especially, frame the face with a golden glow that’s unmistakably warm and inviting. What with manmade CZ diamonds and gemstones, lustrous faux pearls, brilliant faceted crystals and quality gold plating, it often doesn’t matter if the jewelry is pure gold or gold plated — it’s the total impact that matters.  

 

But gold is more than that pure shiny metal that has mesmerized men over the centuries.  It is also a color, and the essential impact of gold metallic materials.  It is the light in a magnificent snake’s skin, and the golden streaks in a fabulous western sunset. And all of that, and more, is entrancing the fashion field now.

 

Gold scarves are often magnificent, especially those with India-Indian styles and that nation’s traditional gold-threaded designs. Shiny golden metallic totes or little golden metallic clutches are fun and fabulous, casual or formal, as you like. When it is gold, it is special. Adding gold to your inventory can give it new life, new magnetic properties.  Displaying gold products can play to that non-stop human instinct of desire, boosting sales and customer satisfaction, both at the same time.  After all, this is gold we’re talking about.  GOLD

 

What would you give for it?

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, September 19th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry, Uncategorized
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Just look at these necklaces and bracelets – they are so over the top!  What is going on here?  Necklaces literally encrusted with metal and gemstones – thick, weighty, and shocking to see – don’t just accessorize an outfit, they overwhelm it! 

 

Necklaces are piled on and on and on…and even just one of these necklaces is a major design creation, made up of enough glass and metal and stones and plastic and who-knows-what-else to ordinarily complete a dozen or more pieces. But with the newest look in jewelry, all the material in the world is just about enough for one creation. 

 

Bracelets follow the big-is-better mantra, and they are just as incredible to see.  How can anyone use their hands when the wrists are so heavily and weightily covered with “stuff?”  These are super-sized items; they stand inches away from the wrist, making so simple a task as writing just about impossible! 

 

UPTRENDING EXCESS:  Bold, phenomenal bracelets  made of metal or gems (or any other material you can think of) are really cuffs, not just bracelets, and they are thick with riches, maybe four or five inches wide, and another two or three inches deep. To capitalize on the uptrending direction, they are not worn singly, but on both wrists, and then in multiples, running up each arm at least to the elbow. 

                                               

                                        Can you imagine? 

 

But of course, you can imagine. And with this strong emphasis on jewelry, what could be better?  Few people will be absurd enough to follow the direction literally.  What it means is that many women will wear more than one necklace or bracelet at a time.  They will wear several…and that means more sales and greater focus on jewelry in general. 

Demonstrating to your customers how to recreate this look can be interesting and profitable.

 

ITALIAN GLASS:  Start with glass, because glass necklaces are frequently the strong base for this look.  Go for large pieces.  Try plenty of Murano glass, in necklaces and bracelets.  The colors here are rich, vibrant, and well suited to the hot style. Consider amber or green Murano glass bracelets, or perhaps one done in a leopard print, again, very well suited to the story line.  Opt for long necklaces, on chains or cords, and especially those with pendants.  Long black glass pendant necklaces have the added benefit of giving a Biker attitude to the overall effect:  Great merchandising!

 

As for the amount of jewelry worn?  Well, we would say this all looked like someone emptied their jewelry box out and then put it all on,  but there is far more to this portrait than any jewelry box could contain.  The overall effect is more like the inventory for a store, and not a small one, at that. Oh, my goodness!

 

So, you have to choose your pieces, although not that carefully. A lot of what this look says has to do with apparent disorder. You might also consider it very young, because it is guaranteed to “freak out” the older generation. What’s more, it could remind you of a teenager’s bedroom! Nothing better than that! 

 

PRICED TO KILL:  Prices aren’t low (in fact, prices sometimes skyrocket) and it is understandable.  As we said before:  Just look at these necklaces and bracelets!  There are a lot of big players in this field, as well.  Names like Jose and Maria Barrera, Swarovski, Steven Webster for Bergdorf Goodman, Cartier, Bulgari, and Loorie Rodkin at Neiman Marcus. Prices per necklace start at about $300, and then soar in the stratosphere, upwards of $3 or $4,000 or more. But, since these are the people who start the trends, it’s advisable to pay attention to what they are doing.

 

Not all big jewelry really looks like jewelry, even though it may be worn that way. 

For example, an agate, jade, glass, jasper and Swarovski crystal necklace hangs to the waist and really looks like a sculpture inspired by Joan Miro paintings, very modern, big, with bursts of well defined color and form on double glass oval plates.  It is sort of like something you might see (but assuredly never have seen) in the outer reaches of a clear winter sky. It frankly gets you, whether or not you like it.

 

 

You can get the same effect with other pieces.  Try working with big glass necklaces, especially those with pancake-shaped glass beads that give the illusion they are changing color before your eyes. Or add some chunky crystal pieces to your neckline mix:  black glass beads are terrific here, as are chunky amethyst-colored pieces. Long millefiori necks are also dynamite but, since they are often rather delicate looking, you should use several together.  Then, the result is fabulous! Remember you don’t have to be quite as big, or quite as crazy, just so long as you evoke the same response, and put forth the same impression.  

 

GEOMETRIC PROGRESSION:  One leading fashion magazine suggests wearing a massive sculpture piece with numerous other necklaces, each of them equally breathtaking, most of them expressing some serious geometry.  Consider a three-dimensional trapezoid about four inches around, done in black resin and worn as a necklace above an art piece. Then add on a big engraved gold plate glass necklace worn as a choker, along with a brass and glass necklace, a big circular gold pendant necklace, and some odds and ends of beads, all clumped together and often lying one on top of the other in some disarray, and you’ve got the picture.  Oh, hey…don’t forget the big, bold, silver ball hanging earrings, sort of a set within a set.  Whew!  

 

 

The idea here is different.  Very big.  Sometimes ethnic, especially American Indian and African.  Always show-stopping.  A hinged bangle bracelet with tribal designs worn up the arm in multiples is a straight “Out of Africa” idea.  Or, a leopard skin-like cuff bracelet:  Very Dark Continent..  Pile them on! And while everything initially may look chaotic (and perhaps a little insane), you can actually extrapolate ideas that are immensely usable.  This is all different, yes…but you can work with it. 

 

A metal shell necklace in plated pewter is a handsome and dynamite tribal item.  It looks hand crafted, another plus here.  You might also consider a large round tribal metallic medallion hanging from a mixed beaded necklace.  Wow!  All of these pieces give a certain zip to the overall heavy neckline effect.

 

RINGS ON MY FINGERS:  Oh, by the way, should we ignore rings in the chunky-galore story?  Never!  Think in terms of big rings on every finger.  Rings that are as often traditional (with filigree and marcasite settings) as outer-space modern.              Beautiful gemstone rings, usually with a center-set faceted or cabochon stone in brilliant color.

 

And then take off from there! Just remember: nothing, NOTHING, is too big, too far out, too wild for this uptrending jewelry story.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Trends
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JAPAN FASHION WEEK IN TOKYO: This is as exciting and global as it gets! 

A major fashion show opens in Japan and the amazing thing is how western the outfits are, while still retaining an Asian character in terms of color, pattern and, even, line.  The Show is still in its infancy, and while everybody agrees it has a long way to go to begin to compete with the majors like New York and Milan, it is still quite extraordinary. 

 

As one Japanese designer, Akira Naka (who studied in Antwerp, Belgium) said, “Tokyo fashion has a strong impact in foreign countries in terms of street fashion….” We might add that it is having a significant impact on western fashion, in general. Just look at how Japanese quirky prints (a strong point in Japanese fashion now) and Japanese cartoons are influencing fashion art on this side of the Pacific. Just consider the sell-out-fast character of those charming bags from Harajuku Lovers, with their adorable Oriental girl cartoon characters on front! 

 

THE ZEN OF WITCHCRAFT  This year, black leads the way in Tokyo fashion. There is a somewhat somber quality to many designs, and a repeated western witchcraft theme, balanced by an inscrutably serene Asian style, with many dark materials and jet outfits. At the same time, bursts of Asian color enlivened the show, as did plenty of ruffles and unexpected design details such as asymmetrical hems, and semi-traditional Japanese geometric prints.  There was also no small amount of “cartoonish kookiness,” as one fashion publication put it. 

 

Accessories came through strongly with big totes featuring fun, interesting embellishments, like one that looked like a huge bouquet of roses.  Also notable was a large white beaded necklace that looked, at a distance, like a Hawaiian lei. .Other points of interest included long, swinging earrings, charming sun umbrellas, and unusual hair accessories.

 

DRAGONFLIES:  Black and white prints were big, as were tiger head graphics, and butterfly and dragonfly prints.  Layered clothes gave otherwise Western-oriented designs a decidedly Asian feeling.  And, here and there, a wonderful wash of color like bright turquoise added shock and excitement.

 

Pantsuits were big, again underwriting the impact of Western design on the national consciousness.  Deconstructed kimonos worked as inspiration for many printed designs.  Long skinny scarves and scarves worn around the neck filling in the front bodice of outfits, swinging metal chains, thin leather and fabric belts worn low (as below the belly-line), and big hand-carried bags all gave character to the Show. 

 

                                                CHINA DOOR

 

INSCRUTABLE CHINA RISES IN SOUND: Just as rock music strongly impacts the fashion scene in the West, so does music help mold the latest fashion trends in China and the rest of the Pacific Rim.  With the global economy becoming more and more a reality, expect the exotic talents of this and other Asian nations to be rapidly expressed in Western fashion, as well. 

 

Here is an interesting design story that gives you some idea of what is in store for America in the not-too-distant future:  Sa Dingding is an extraordinary singer, born in Inner Mongolia and known as the biggest pop phenomenon in China. Her biggest claim to fame is the ability to fuse diverse cultural elements into a single, cohesive and intriguing form. As a lyricist, she weaves Mongolian, Tibetan, and Sanscrit together; as a musician, she blends her expertise in Chinese traditional instruments with electronic sounds. As a designer of all her own costumes, she blends touches of Tibetan prayer flags, Buddhist imagery and even saris into a unified, spectacular look.

 

SACRED BUDDHIST ART:  Dingding is entranced by the precious colors of the East, and the intense, yet serene imagery of sacred Buddhist art.  In accessories, she is a master of Himalayan-colored beads, large, multi-strand, often a wild combination of blues, greens, red-browns, and gold.  Her necklaces feature numerous tassels in muted colors.  Traditional Eastern scarves are a major part of her costumes, wrapped around the head and dropping down over both shoulders.  High piled hair takes control accessories, while small beading drops down from the headpieces and decorates the forehead.

 

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Many more Western-oriented musical stars can be found at the new China Live Music Festival in Shanghai.  The idea of the Festival is to integrate music in Shanghai with the music of the world. Artists here wear jeans galore, especially the newest of new icy blue jeans, together with ribbon neck chokers, sparkly hair accessories. and bracelets galore.

The interest of the Chinese government in pushing China’s fashion industry image and participation tells you something about the growing sense of capitalism in that once inflexible Communist nation. 

 

This, like Japan, is a nation fighting hard to move into the 21st century with sophistication and design excellence.  Keep your eyes open: When it comes to fashion, the Pacific Rim is definitely on the rise!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

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Every once in a great while the air in Manhattan would take on a quality that immediately, unexpectedly,  transported me back to Amsterdam, Holland and the many romantic days and nights I spent there many years ago.  In the very, very early morning, the smell of a certain type of freshly brewed coffee would bring me back just as instantly to our family lake house and the wonderful summer breakfasts my grandmother made there

 Sounds, smells, images, feelings all have the ability to bring us back to where we have been and the experiences we have had, to other places, other times. Symbols have power!  The cross.  The circle.  The star.

 

The fleur-de-lis is an ancient symbol with just as much remarkable power, extending from the golden crafts and spectacular artifacts of ancient Egypt to the modern day brilliance and sadness that is New Orleans. Joan of Arc rode into battle under a banner emblazoned with a fleur-de-lis. It has been on coats of arms of European royalty for centuries.  It is on the city flag of the City of New Orleans, reminding of that city’s rich heritage and French connection.

The fleur-de-lis is a popular symbol for women’s and men’s accessories, and can be found in any fashion season on fabrics, clothing, handbags, and other personal items.  It is an historic and elegant emblem with a timeless design character that has carried it from the handiwork of yesterday’s Mesopotamian crafts to the refined minimalist art world of modern day Japan.  Its lifeline is quite extraordinary.

 

Practicality and art combine in a fleur-de-lis eyeglass holder.  You can also get a pillbox key chain, with a beautiful fleur-de-lis symbol set against a black oval pill container lid.  A compact mirror with the fleur-de-lis design is a charming handbag accessory.  Or, a clever home accessory for a guest bathroom.

 

 

 

Scarves have for long taken sophistication and artistic quality from the fleur-de-lis symbol.  Silk or polyester scarves in black and white or gold and white and utilizing the fleur-de-lis emblem in the fabric design are especially handsome with a stylish coat or dress.  And, in today’s offbeat fashion environment, where casual and formal meet and mate, these fleur-de-lis scarves even look terrific over a blouse or T-shirt and jeans. 

 

The interesting desirability of the fleur-de-lis symbol doesn’t ignore the fact that it is suitable for all ages.  The lily-design is as delightful on a child’s outfit as on a haute couture ensemble for adults.  Even the elderly take to this familiar symbol, cherishing their own memories and attachments to the sign while enjoying its presence in their current wardrobe.

 

And while we are talking about market share, let’s not forget men’s wear and the fleur- de-lis.  This is a dynamic sign for ties, opening up many artistic avenues to designers while still expressing an historic factor in the tie itself.  And, amazingly, even as it fits women’s wear so well, the fleur-de-lis just as easily crosses over and becomes a strong men’s fashion symbol without the slightest compromise.

 

 

Jewelry is perhaps the ideal showcase for this famous symbol.  New Orleans is the focus of attention in a stretch fleur-de-lis bracelet that, among other things, has the famous unifying words for the City engraved on its links:  love, faith, strength. Bangle fleur-de-lis bracelets and an interesting fleur-de-lis magnetic bracelet, all in silver-tone, are additional pieces that raise up the emblem for continuing appreciation. A faux wood link bracelet in dark brown with ivory-colored fleurs-de-lis all around is a more casual design, as is another bangle-like faux wood bracelet with both fleur-de-lis and heart designs.

 

A very attractive fleur-de-lis pin in an antiqued ribbed design is available in either silver or gold plate.  It makes an ideal pin for a suit or a blouse and is just light enough to be wearable on almost any material. 

 

 Necklaces with the fleur-de-lis design are numerous: some are simple chains; others are embellished with gemstones or other jewelry favorites.  An unusual necklace has two fleur-de-lis emblems, like small charms, hanging from two different lengths of chain.  In silver-tone, the necklace also has matching fleur-de-lis earrings, which you can buy with the necklace as a set, or separately. 

 

No matter how you express it, the fleur-de-lis is a spectacular emblem, for men, women, children, even grandparents.  Some think of it as the quintessential Gallic symbol while others see it as having more global, ancient connections. To some, it is the essential museum-level expression of art and aristocracy.  To others, it is just a comfortable, good-looking design form.  As a symbol, it brings up myriad pictures, memories, academic excitements.  It is universal, but can also be intensely personal.  As an example of symbolic art form and treasure it is practically unbeatable!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

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Ever wonder how people shielded their eyes from the sun’s glare before sunglasses were invented?  Wide-brimmed hats, of course.  Sun umbrellas.  Positioning the hand at the brow to shade the eyes.  Well, here’s an amazing fact:  it wasn’t until 1929 that Sam Foster introduced the first sunglasses, selling them on the boardwalk in good old Atlantic City!  They were riotously popular there on the beach, and within a year, most everyone owned or wanted a pair!  

 

The business of sunglasses has greatly evolved since that time, but the urge to buy them is just as strong.  Sunglasses have gone far beyond basic function, and now are a prime personal fashion accessory (meaning: watch those Impulse Sales!)

 HEROES CHOOSE AVIATORS

 Back in the 1940s, famed WWII General Douglas MacArthur constantly wore Aviator sunglasses.  Wartime photos of the dynamic general catapulted the Aviator model into supersales.

  • The Aviator, in its many versions, remains to this day the best-selling sunglasses in the country. 

While originally Aviators were strictly manly, female movie stars adopted the look, and today Aviators are not only favorites of men, but many women as well.

 

In recent years, top designers have prominently inserted their name, or initials, or company logo on their sunglasses, to communicate directly with the wearer’s circle of friends that he or she is wearing expensive designer sunglasses.  And expensive is the word.  Status-conscious shoppers can easily pay upwards of $100, $200, $300 or more for name designer sunglasses. 

Other shoppers want to look just as good, but shrewdly choose to do it for a fraction of the going prestige-fashion price.  And now it’s so easy!

 LOGOS SELL BIG TIME

 Take those designer logos.  Now quality wholesale glasses can be had featuring intriguing logos-initials, or sophisticated metal graphics, set at the temple. These are designer-like manufacturer motifs that pique buyer interest, but never duplicate a designer’s copyright or trademark.  These new status/value collections play on the generally accepted idea that “designer logo = expensive designer sunglasses!”

But these sunglasses are not expensive.  They just look expensive.

 Today’s well-priced sunglasses offer variations on current looks initiated by top fashion houses right now, this season, not some time later, when fashion will have moved on.  Contemporary “hot” designs can be had:  aviators, of course; unilens numbers, wraps, unisex flexibility, oversize retro (big this fall), rimless, sportsglasses, severely modern or lavishly decorated sunglasses.  Choose from a wide range of lens and frame colors, crafted of durable plastics, popular plated wire, special features and knockout looks.

 SHOPPING FOR SHOPPERS

 Target your individual shopper groups:  athletic youngsters often are keen on mirrored sports sunglasses, and will look for features like rubber-sleeved arms that keep the glasses securely in place while the wearer is in motion.  If your female shoppers typically dress in bright colors and sparkle, they’ll probably want to carry that over into sunglass selections.  Conservative customers often have a certain style that has proved to be best for them or, on this shopping trip, they may be open to something fresh and different.

While in the past women have traditionally been more receptive to new styles and ideas, today’s young men are just as adventurous, and have very specific tastes and needs. 

 Mimicking in-the-news celebrities’ choices creates huge, ever-changing but ever-constant demand.  (What’s George Clooney wearing these days?  Brad Pitt?  Beyonce?)  

 Everyone wants their chosen version of the “in” look, and everyone knows the right sunglasses add unmistakable hip glamour.

 But remember:  Whatever your sunglass mix, you can’t miss with the Aviator-it has always been the retail sales champion, and, amazingly, has never, ever,  been out of style.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, September 15th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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It doesn’t seem possible that just a short time ago, the jewelry industry was practically oblivious to cubic zirconium, that fascinating mineral that makes up into a fabulous diamond faker.   Cubic zirconium was actually discovered in 1892 but it wasn’t until 1976 that an effective way of using it for jewelry was perfected.  But with that discovery, wow!  A major market for diamond lovers everywhere began to take off. 

 

CZs, as they are more popularly known, have all the class, shine, glimmer and flash of fine diamonds and, when well-cut and set, it is practically impossible to tell them from the real thing. Oh yes, there are always those “know-it-alls” who will assure you they can tell the difference between a CZ and a diamond, even if your local jeweler can’t without a loupe (jeweler’s magnifying lens). The best response here is to just smile.  Because    there is a reason why CZs are so popular and that reason is that you can’t just tell them apart from real diamonds.  They are, as we said before, fabulous fakers!  They simulate real diamonds in the most extraordinary way!

 

CHEMICAL CREATIVITY:  CZs are made of a cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide.  At what may well be their very best, they are radiantly clear, white diamond-like stones of exquisite luster and high light refracting capabilities.  Just like diamonds, they can flash across the room and mesmerize any gathering of beauty lovers. Put them

on a counter illuminated with artificial light and just watch your customers gather ‘round.  

 

The addition of certain metal oxide compounds has further allowed for a variety of vibrant colors to be produced in these faux gems, colors such as yellow, orange and red, green, purple, pink, even a golden brown.  And, a number of new manufacturing processes have taken CZs a step further into the realm of perfection; they are now harder, more lustrous and more like diamonds than ever before. One of the most recent advances in CZ technology is the development of a system for producing an iridescent effect in CDs. These shimmering diamond pretenders are now marketed as “mystic” by many dealers.

 

STUD SPECTACULARS:  As costume jewelry of the highest order, this wonderful man-made gem serves so well in place of costly natural diamonds!  One of the most basic and yet most popular uses of CZs is as faux diamond studs. They sit in the ear lobe with elegant poise and literally defy anyone to know they aren’t real. You can get studs in various sizes, to use for everyday or for very special dress-up affairs. 

 

 

Small diamond studs also work as well for little girls as for their grandmothers.  Often sold with expensive-looking box packaging, these CZs are truly spectacular gift items!  Incidentally, studs don’t have to be clear.  Few earrings are as charming and feminine as pink CZ studs.  The pink here is just beautiful.

 

CZ tennis bracelets are also big movers.  In fact, it was the tennis bracelet that first pushed CZs into high sales prominence.  Try reproducing a fine tennis bracelet, whatever the diamond sizes.  Then do it the same size in CZs.  Try to tell them apart!  The only problem is:  You might get upset that you ever spent so much money on the real thing when the CZ bracelet so elegantly mimics the diamond extravaganza!

 

PENDANT POWER:  Think about pendant necklaces.  This is where CZs can really shine!  A fancy round stone with matching earrings is not only a terrific gift, it also serves beautifully for a variety of special affairs, from weddings to graduations and more. The pendants and earrings often come in a choice of shapes, such as circular or teardrop.

 

CZ pendants can be worn on metal chains or hanging down from beaded necklaces, such as pearls. Simply worn in a minimalistic style, the pendants take on a very trendy, youthful look and give the traditional necklace-and-earrings combination a revitalized fashion character. 

 

NOT TO BE MISSED:  The CZ pendant has an almost magical quality when done in a color such as deep blue. Is this a real sapphire or an extraordinary-colored diamond?  It looks like a gemstone stolen from the eye of an Oriental Buddha and secreted away in tramp steamers until finally surfacing, years later, in the United States. What fun to wear!

 

Another fashionable piece is the triple drop CZ necklace, representing the three phases of life.  Not only does it look good, but it has such a popular life-story attached to it, which invariably enhances the product’s salability.

 

CZ earrings look good with just about everything and no longer need be squirreled away for use on just evening or special occasions.  Today, the most formal look is worn casually, even with jeans. So, put forth some of these flashing earrings, such as a dangling waterfall design, and pair them with almost any fashion costume.   These are real winners!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, September 13th, 2008