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Archive for October, 2008...

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It’s that time of year again!  Christmas bells have yet to start ringing, but the Pantone Institute – that austere organization that so brilliantly predicts color directions for the fashion industry – has already announced its ten top colors for spring 2009. So forget about the winter.  Spring will soon be here, and with it, this brilliant, serene collection of Pantone colors favored by New York designers for the upcoming warmer months. The palette is cool, optimistic and inward-oriented.  You might say meditative.  Emphasis is on blues and greens, water colors, refreshing and revitalizing. 


PALACE BLUE comes in at the Number One spot, a classic color considered to be in the navy family, though it is quite a bit lighter.  “Palace Blue is one of those colors that really goes well with every other color in the top ten,” declared Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. It is not exactly new to the Pantone list, more like updated, since it is a continuation of the top Blue Iris color of last fall.


LAVENDER makes the Number Two slot at Pantone, a variation of purple, and somewhat softer than Royal Magic from last fall, of which it is a continuation.  “This isn’t some baby pastel lavender,” Eiseman says.  It is vibrant, and more assertive.



SUPER LEMON takes the Number Three spot in the top spring color list.  This is a very alive yellow, complex and zesty.  It carries some green undertones which Eiseman thinks makes it more interesting.  Yellow is a hard color for many people to wear, but the Institute director points out that it is an excellent color for accessories.


SALMON ROSE, the Number Four spot winner, is softer and lighter than Burnt Orange from last fall.  It is gentler than real orange, and not as difficult to wear.  It goes wonderfully with darker skin tones. Fuchsia Red and Lucite Green make terrific teammates.


FUCHSIA RED follows salmon rose at the Number Five post.  It is a strong, dramatic color, with blue rather than warm undertones, fitting to the overall spring palette.  This is an extremely popular color, being used by numerous New York designers as their signature color for the season.  


ROSE DUST is somewhat deceptive in name, since it looks like a very pale beige.  At Number Six on the Pantone chart, this flattering neutral has an extremely delicate rose cast.  It is seen as a neutral base for many different colors, including khaki.



SLATE GRAY is a beautifully sophisticated color with all the subtlety of slate itself.  The color, voted Number Seven on the Pantone list, has both blues and greens in its undertones, although blue definitely predominates.  It is complex and elegant and works well with many other blues and greens in the spring palette.


VIBRANT GREEN is just as its name implies:  alive, intense, lush.  At Number Eight on the Pantone list, vibrant green is described as the “quintessential spring color.”  This is a true green, suggesting golf courses and other well-cared for landscapes. 



DARK CITRON is anything but dark.  At Number Nine on the Pantone Chart, it is a strong, yellow-green, with deep tonality.  It is very adult.



LUCITE GREEN, Number Ten, is a fascinating combinationof color and light.  It is almost translucent, like Lucite ®, but it is also a clean, clear, early-spring green.  This is a slightly offbeat green, not traditional, with a pop of ice cream color and a slight hint of blue.  It is very NOW.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, October 31st, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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Jewelry like you have never seen before:  That’s what Milan offered up recently in a fabulous fashion week that centered on vivid colors, endless prints, and metallics galore. 

Sheer, billowy fabrics offered up a gentle, sometimes other-worldly, effect, while fitted dresses and low cut necklines heightened the sexy factor, which designers have been hiding under material layers for several seasons now. 


But nothing could compare with the jewelry!  Statement necklaces certainly led the Look-At-Me parade.  Giorgio Armani featured multi-strands of mixed large blue opaque and violet crystal beads in a bib that completely covered the bodice. Another Armani special was a large black and white blossom with silver filigree leaves hanging off a beaded black choker.


Some of the wildest necklaces could be found at Burberry Prorsum, some very artsy-craftsy.  A necklace of bunched dark resin leaves looked terrific over a pale blue dress and raincoat ensemble.  A long, to-the-waist necklace of beads that looked a little like a cornucopia mélange of plenty decorated a blue print dress with white coat combination.  Even more dramatic was a heavy, bold necklace of bunched reddish metal squares that could be paint chips found at a hardware store. Sounds crazy, but it actually looked good both architectural! 


Missoni stayed with the statement necklace, but did it in a unique way.   Here a necklace and geometric, done in slivered silver, combined effectively with a pale pink and yellow print dress. The necklace was chandelier-like with levels of circles, squares, and free-form silver pieces build one on top of the other. 


Not everybody was totally other-worldly.  Gucci featured a below-the-waist chain necklace with odd-shaped gemstone stations.  Bottega Veneta featured a long chain necklace, also falling below the waist, ending in a bunch of feather-like pieces. 


Many of the necklaces were too far-out for practical merchandising, but that’s usually the point in haute couture shows, anyway.  The idea here is always the idea.  What is being said?  The exaggeration literally exaggerates the statement.  So, let’s look at these fantastic pieces a little more closely.  Some of the messages for new jewelry:


  • in Different looks. Definitely one-of-a-kind. Sophisticated and unexpected. Futuristic forms and materials. Some artsy-craftsy.


  • in Bold, brash, assertive pieces. Necklaces that do more than accessorize; they are, in many instances, the focal point of the fashion itself.


  • in Mixed beads. Different sizes and styles. Glass or crystal with resin. Interesting combinations.


  • in Big, exaggerated pendants, both realistic and “it’s anybody’s guess…”



  • in Chains, by themselves (and then quite conventional), and with bead and gemstone stations.


  • in Below the waist lengths. Very swingy styles.


  • in Leafy themes. Floral stories. Big blossoms a la Georgia O’Keefe.


Of course, these were just some of the exciting, vibrantly new looks out of Milan this season, where short-short skirts predominated, even as a new sense of refinement entered the market.  At Bilancionic, for example, a nonchalant glamour with unexpected material mixes (like a big sweater with a taffeta ball gown skirt) brought a rich, country club feel to fashion.  Accessories here ran from big, dramatic cuffs to statement necklaces and wrap-around cummerbunds.


Bracelets were, overall, seen in multiples:  cuffs and bangles running one after the other up the arm almost to the elbow.  Gold and silver metal bangles were big, as were enameled pieces. 


Scarves also got celebrity treatment in Italy this season.  Many were done in vibrant, even intense, prints.  Gucci showed a long, skinny scarf in red and blue stripes tied around the neck and falling long, below the waist.  The long and narrow story was very important for scarves.  Also important:  little neckerchiefs tied around the neck, and small scarves wrapped around the neck as fill-ins. A fun look from Dolce & Gabbana featured a blue and mauve print scarf wrapped around the neck and then tied into a big, puffy flower.  It would probably take some time to learn how to do this, but it would be time well spent.


A much appreciated design surprise was the return of collars, mostly beaded with expensive, glittery stones and worn over jackets and dresses.  They furthered the “emphasis on the neckline” look getting strong play here.


And, taking things up a couple of notches, sunglasses did not fail to offer the public a renewed taste of La Dolce Vita. Big glasses with light colored rims and super dark lens were sometimes slightly cartoonish, at other times sexy and mysterious.  They were at all times, pure Latin hot-stuff.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Filed under Earrings
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QUIETLY IMPORTANT:  Button earrings.  They’ve been around for a long time.  Still, you won’t see them on the fashion runways this year, that’s where the hot, trendy statement jewelry is being shown off.  You also won’t see them in most fashion magazines, either; they’re featuring big, bold, new, and different pieces.  But…button earrings represent one of the most important categories of jewelry.  They sell every day of the year, year-in and year-out.  You might call them dynamos in a lambskin disguise.


What woman doesn’t have several button earrings in her accessories collection?  And, what woman couldn’t use many more?  That’s because button earrings are staples – basics, if you will.  They stand up beautifully on their own, and they also stand in for all styles of earrings, day-in and day-out.  A woman might wear chandelier earrings to a Friday night dance.  But on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, she’ll probably wear button earrings to work. 


Button earrings have multiple personalities.  They also fit just about everywhere.  They go with jeans and evening dresses.  They go with athletic clothes and beach wear.  They fit every age category, from 10 to 99.  And, as accepted as they have always been, they are now even more popular because of the extraordinary broadening out of their design definition.


                              Buttons aren’t just buttons anymore…


NEW DESIGN ACTION:  Consider that button earrings have traditionally been thought of as conservatively-sized circle or oval earrings, usually with a metal framework and a real or faux gemstone center.  Think of Dior earrings, they are the epitome of this very good-looking classic.  Now, however, there is a lot more happening here, and that is bringing a treasure trove of excitement to the “button” world.


To start with, a geometric infusion of shapes and styles is transforming the simple “button” into a much more upscale, intricate design. You can choose numerous circle and oval sizes, plus squares, multi-sided styles and even freeform designs, all of which are extending the traditional “button” into a far more complex and flexible item,.  A terrific look can be found in square “button” earrings in silver or gold plate and rich modern design. Or, a fabulous rectangular earring with silver borders framing a vivid green turquoise epoxy center.  Wow!


Then, there is color, another hot characteristic being added to the “button” standby.  Think in terms of bright, even electric colors.  Or, deep blues and blacks, a sapphire or onyx look.  Choose canary yellows and cardinal reds.  Then, put them all together in a mixing pot and voila!  You’ve got a collection of sensational multicolored earrings that combine tradition with trend for a very new look.



HOT METALLIC DIRECTION: Metal is also being used in “button” earrings in a very new and upscale way.  One interesting example is tooled silver. Another is sculptural silver or gold plate.  Another smooth oval silver plate “button” earring has all the richness of a Tiffany design, only at a reasonable price.  Of course, metal continues to play an important role as the basic structure of button earrings, with stones added for color, texture, and luxury appeal.


One of the more fascinating directions in button earrings has to do with ethnic designs.  Like images out of Africa.  Or, Zuni-inspired earrings done in epoxy and silver plate with the look of tiny turquoise stones.  Or, Celtic-inspired earrings, with a stamped silver-plate design based on the ancient Irish Book of Kells (an illustrated Bible from the 9th century, considered by the publishing world to be the most beautiful book ever put together.  It is on display at Trinity College in Dublin).


PINK DAHLIA:  The dynamite floral story so important in the fashion world now hasn’t been lost on “button” earrings, either.  Flower blossoms can be found in charming buttons that bring color and sweetness to the wearer’s ear and face.  A lovely hibiscus blossom in a pretty peach is just one design. (This is a particularly feminine style and fittingly so, since the hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu mother goddess.)  Another lovely design in this category is a pink dahlia flower with a rhinestone center.  This is an excellent choice for day or evening wear.


             Don’t underestimate the power of button earrings!


They are ideal gift items for any woman.  You can’t comfortably choose chandelier earrings for someone else, but you can choose button earrings.  As we said above, they are basics.  Staples.  And, they are anything but commonplace or boring.  A whole constellation of fascinating new “button” designs are waiting for you and your customers.  If you haven’t paid attention to button earrings recently, you’ve got a happy surprise waiting!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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Look for the color yellow to spice up watches this coming year!  A major move into the citrus arena is bringing a wide variety of bright, happy designs into play, some are amazingly sophisticated, some are tastefully rich and creative.  In any case, the look is new, strongly grounded in color, and carries the brand names of practically every major watchmaker from Movado and Van Cleef & Arpels to Timex and Seiko.


DESIGN SURPRISES:  Of course, color isn’t the only thing shaking up the watch design field.  Look for surprises in cases, bezels, even function-clocks and dials, where design ingenuity is at its highest. At a time when financial markets are hurting, the world of watches keeps ticking along, with excitement and creativity on all sides. 


And would you believe it?  There is even a fall-back to mechanical watches for women, which are already selling well (although nobody wants to bet on how long these sales will be up.  Women have traditionally been a lot more interested in diamonds than inner watch workings).  Just as the mechanical watch is hot, it is also expensive. The question is:  Will women ditch their cheaper quartz watches for these top-price serious pieces?

So far, the answer seems to be affirmative. As one industry observer pointed out, 


             “Women aren’t going to let men get ahead of them on this one.”


The amazing thing, though, is that women do seem to be a lot more interested in function than was ever figured, and the watch industry is just now running to catch up with them.   Perpetual calendars and chronographs are just a couple of the hot functions joining the mechanical surge and helping to jazz up women’s watch sales. 


STEALING FROM THE BOYS:  Look for many other exciting new plays on the macho watch field with a nod toward women.  Sizes – men’s sizes for women sell well!-are just one area of change. Even as women’s watches get bigger and bigger, more and more diamonds and other luxe stones are being lavishly added to these basically male-oriented watch designs. It’s an interesting directive, and it looks good.  Not too long ago, the women’s movement was quick to assure their followers,


                                    “You can have it all!” 


–And hey, when it comes to watches, that seems to be true.


Unisex designs are also hot, as women leave behind the super girlie look that has frequently characterized watch styles for the so-called weaker sex. The result is, in many instances, a sleeker, cleaner and more modern overall watch design. This move toward a less gender-oriented design philosophy also has some executives in the field suggesting that “men’s” and “women’s” watch designations be scrapped, to be replaced simply by information on the watch size; i.e., small, medium, large. 


A QUESTION OF JEWELRY:  But nothing in the fashion field is ever simple, and there is always the other side of the issue.  In watches, that is especially true.  For example, a great many women’s watches are sold by jewelry houses, and they almost all promote on a female gender consciousness. Here, the watch is thought of as a bracelet as much as a watch, and emphasis is strongly on the watch as an accessory to an outfit.  At the same time, many leading fashion designers are branching out into watches, with a bevy of names like John Galliano and Ralph Lauren revving up the field. 


If anything, this infusion of high design is putting even more emphasis on color than ever before.  Watch bands reflect sizzling hues, in smooth leather, snakeskin, tooled leather and -at the lower priced level, like Swatch – hot, trendy plastics.


HOT MARKET:  Luxe timepieces are major seller, even in these questionable economic times. Of course, no one knows how long this segment of the market will continue at the boiling point.  Medium priced designer watches are also very big sellers.   Square cases with diamonds lining the sides and/or top and bottom are truly essentials in the field. At the lower price level, diamonds are replaced by CZs, but the look is still hot. 


Cases are often square or slightly rectangular.  Big circle-faced watches with chrono-looks are important.  Black faces and straps pick up on the super black color story raging in the fashion field in general. Think about the original Movado watch, and just branch out from there. Gold is a major metal, real and plate.


FABULOUS DESIGN:  Leather straps are traditional and yet modern, replacing conventional metal bracelets in a big way.  That doesn’t hold true for super modern bracelets, for example, such as one introduced recently at the Basel Fair by Georg Jensen.  This is a swirl of a single piece of stainless steel with a circular watch face at one end and a logo-name plate at the other.  It is dynamic! 


Jeweled watches are important at every level of the watch field.  At Guess, for example, watches set in colorful bangle bracelets are given major glitz and glamour with the additional of hundreds of Swarovski crystals.  The colors here are amethyst, emerald green, and dark blue.  Another watch line at Guess includes the Diver Chic ceramic chronograph, and is also adorned with gorgeous gemstones.  This is jewelry at its best!


–As one major watch manufacturer noted, “People are looking for sparkle, color, and luster.”


…But, how do you sell that?  With design mainly, but also with personality marketing.  Right now, a lineup of impressive celebrities is promoting some of the world’s costliest watches.  Ashton Kutcher and Catherine Zeta Jones are both working with major watch firms.  So is Eric Dane.  Roger Federer is adding his tennis racket swing to the sale of Rolex watches.  And Patrick Dempsey shows off Versace watches with flare.  And don’t forget that Swatch is famous for emblazoning its time-setter name across major sports contests, worldwide. 


Think about it:  Connecting famous people and events to watches obviously creates strong sales incentive.


When he was President, Bill Clinton wore a Timex.  At the same time, the Pope wore a Rolex.  Truth is stranger than fiction…

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Filed under Fashion Trends
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It’s a good time to look at what is working and what’s not working and adjust.”

       -Julie Gilbert, senior vice president/fashion director, Barney’s New York



AHHHH, PARIS!  The capital of the fashion world took on the economy with verve and fearlessness in recent weeks, filling runways with exquisitely designed clothing and polishing it all with remarkably creative and beautiful accessories.  If newness excites sales, this is the place to study.  Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, glasses, hats, handbags, and pins all reigned as statement pieces; they were big, bold, and often looked like rare museum gems.  Retailers internationally sat up and took notice.


Budget-wise, the overall impression was, “Well, yes, the economy is bad, but just look at this abundance of personal treasures.  How can it miss?”  As one retailer put it, “Overall, we will be spending about 5 to 10 percent less, but if we are confident in a brand, we may still increase our open-to-buy.”  Numerous others said:

                                      “We remain on a level with last year.”


On the apparel front, separates came through with a high level of sophistication and practicality.  Chanel was great.  Lanvin was terrific.  Pieces were mixed together in new ways, with a startling 2009 allure.  There was little yesteryear about these concepts or impressions.  Even retro – and there was plenty of ‘80s especially — was infused with an aura of tomorrow. 


Drama was at a high pitch.  Yohji Yamamoto gave his fabulously pared down pantsuits and long dresses an added sense of mystery by outfitting models with big dark sunglasses.  Like many other designers this year, a strong design idea in his showing was the single bared shoulder, all very glamorous and sexy. 


PROVOCATIVE SHEERS:  Nudity was strong and sensual, heightened by gorgeous, sheer materials and styles. Chiffon was in its glory. Metallics shimmered everywhere, many shining on space-age designs with no small amount of rocket-ship savvy.  Africana gave collections a wonderful feeling of primitive enthusiasm. Color was strong, assertive, often centering on reddish orange, cranberry, and fuchsia. Monet blues were also exquisite, especially in the couture designs of Elie Saab.


Mermaid skirts, flash/trash fashion, stark shirtings and intensely crisp, clean fashions stood along side of ruffled peplum dresses, cropped trousers, pastel floral kilts and frilly afternoon wear. There was a great deal of wrapped clothing, layered outfits, and billowy material caught up in bunches at the sides.  And with it all, there were jewelry and trend ideas galore, like big wild floral hats, buttons, African bracelets, bows and ribbon streamers, sashes, circus suggestions and India-Indian auras. 


FLIPPY SKIRTS: Geometrics and graphic art added a definite joie de vivre to otherwise “happy” clothing and accessories. Flippy skirts and relaxed jackets were fun, and youthful. Designer detailing was high couture and rich embellishments, such as embroideries and lace, gave a luxury finish to many collections.  The silhouette was surprisingly “hourglass,” something we haven’t seen for a while.  Shoulder emphasis was high, with shoulder pads completing many outfits. 


What was happening here?  For starters:  Beautiful, approachable looks.  Hot trends, like cowboy looks, pleats, drapes, eyelet and homespun denim.  Novelty items, especially with shoes and jewelry.  Skirt lengths were generally short, and waistlines tended to be belted, exaggerating that return-to-femininity hourglass look. Cropped pants and peg-leg pants had very new-look tailoring.  Jackets were elegant, sometimes tribal.


SKULLS AND SKELETONS:  Elephant themes were mystical.  So were crocodiles and bears, fashioned on rich diamond and gold jewelry.  Goth continued to give its own very particular look to fashion.  Bats with emerald wings brought newness to jewelry, along with plenty of spider themes, skeletons, and metallic skulls.


Updates on popular stories were well-executed. Rock-chick led the color black surge.  Bondage was back with its characteristic violence, featuring straps and chains, and tough pointy “torture” necklaces and bracelets. Masculine looks softened by lots of crystal were exciting. And everywhere, big hoop earrings were stellar, with influence from Africa, in color and design. 


OPPOSITES ATTRACT:  Balenciaga’s architectural silhouettes were worth watching:  They could portend a disciplined return to minimalism, centering on modern, sleek shapes and single, spotlight-worthy accessory pieces.  On the other hand, there was a breathless rush of refined glitz and bijou consciousness from several top couturier houses, most especially Lanvin, where abundant fabrics, bejeweled extravaganzas, jewel-tone colors, and dazzling jewelry all reigned supreme.


Despite flashes of brilliant hues, however, color was, overall, slightly less shocking than last year with new neutrals making a brash entry into the market, and monochromatic designs coming through with intensity. There were plenty of cool interesting pales, a sophisticated update on the cute ice cream colors of recent seasons.


SLEEK AND SCULPTURED:  A hot story just below the boiling point in Paris was “ultra-modern.” You could see this pared down, exquisitely crafted design school in apparel and jewelry, and it looked great in both places.  Among other things, it expressed itself loudly in big, big bangles, strong hoops, and giant necklaces.  Silver was the dominant material and, unlike jewelry in the rest of the market, embellishment was minimal here.  The idea was more toward smooth, sleek, sculptured, arts looks.   


                                                                      #   #   #   #


Perhaps the most important gift from Paris this year was the variety offered to a market hit by major financial crisis and concerns. It spoke of newness, creativity, and energy.  It was forceful and optimistic. It gave reasons to buy, reasons to be positive. It was really quite spectacular and, in many ways, it was the fashion industry at its best. 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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Forget about grown up sophistication; a child’s garden is a lot more fun to play in!  That, certainly, is what jewelry makers are thinking this year as they draw on all kinds of charming kid-stuff as inspiration for new jewelry collections.  Chanel, for example, has fashioned a fabulous little carousel necklace, actually a small pendant with little gold pieces circling, like horses in a traditional merry-go-round.  The only thing missing is the music! 



 Then, there are hearts, all over the market. Branded and unbranded hearts.  Little girl hearts dressed up for the most adult affairs!  Wondrous brooches, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and pins all carry the sights and symbols of childhood into the work-a-day world of the grown up, whimsically reminding us that it’s all right to play at being a child again, once in a while.

    Designer Alexandra Francois is in love with childhood images.  She has created a fabulous jewelry collection inspired by the bizarre characters out of Alice in Wonderland.  Cartoons extend the reach of child play even further.  Moschino, for example, offers an adorable red and black Olive Oil scarf for $255.  Popeye not included.  Try some less costly cartoon scarves.  They are just as fashionable and a lot easier on the pocketbook.






If personal accessories aren’t enough, how about extending the category to cover desk accessories?  A new trend afloat has to do with luxury — not for body adornment, but for desks.  Consider Bottega Veneta’s newest collection of sterling silver office necessities, such as a letter opener, a ruler, and more. The handsome tools are priced for high-level employees, running from $180 to $2,100. And, they suggest a great niche market for accessories merchants.  With more and more women ascending to the Board Room, it’s about time office equipment left Bauhaus functionalism behind, and started looking worthy of the new executive suite. 






Looking for some new images to perk up the accessories corner?  Look no further! 

More and more designers are finding inspiration in the spirit world of animals,

Using real-to-life as well as not-so-alive looking animal figures, now or ever. Big on the jewelry circuit:  ravens, lizards, mice, and strange combinations of imaginative animals with dragon tails and kingly crowns.  These are more than American Indian spirit figures, these images travel the world and collect ideas everywhere. 

     For accessory sales, what could be better than a spirit jaguar representing courage and power, or a wild boar for its exceptional intelligence?  The subjects unleash a constellation of great selling points for wonderful gifts this season.  What dynamite jewels.






Designer icon Sonia Rykiel is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the house she created  in the fascinating cobblestone streets of Paris.  The elegant fashion mode of the offbeat St. Germain designer is known for exquisite knitwear, sexy dresses and…rhinestones!  So, look for a strong increase in rhinestone appreciation as lovers of good design, from the most expensive haute couture to artsy bohemian, rush to show off their Rykiel-inspired goodies. 

      No…you don’t have to visit a fancy French boutique for these beautiful baubles.  Rhinestones are everywhere, worn with everything. Think fabulous necklaces, beautiful bracelets and breathtaking earrings.  What’s more, rhinestones are no longer known as just sparkling faux stand-ins for diamonds.  Rhinestones are valued for themselves!     



                                       LESSONS IN GEOMETRY


Seeing spots before your eyes?  Don’t worry…that’s just part of the massive geometry wave washing over the fashion industry, with circles and polka dots, squares, stripes, triangles and all things math-related.  Major designers are having a ball with the geometric figures, leaning on fabrics from subtle to wild with big, big circles and tiny, tiny over-all polka dots.  In the accessories field, the force of geometric perfection is no less powerful.  Look for plenty of circle and square formations in handbags and scarves, some in material prints, some in tooled faux and real leather.

     — An important point here:  Squares as bangle bracelets.  This is coming on strong!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, October 18th, 2008

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Who doesn’t adore Marc Jacobs?  Just look at the crush of celebrities at his latest fashion show in New York: Jennifer Lopez, Winona Ryder, Sofia Coppola, Martha Stewart, and Kelly Osborne, among many others, all gorgeously dressed a la Jacobs, and most weighted down by statement jewelry galore, from necklaces to earrings to bracelets, carrying big, big handbags and wearing totally insane spike heels.   This was a fan club of adoring individuals, summed up, as designer Victoria Beckham breathlessly put it,    

                                        “He’s a genius…”                                                  


This was a spectacular Jacobs collection and a very new look. Wearable clothes predominated, as did a comfortable amount of Americana with updated macramé, brocades, glitter, shine, plenty of leather and some fascinating, new ideas for accessorizing with major jewelry pieces and handbags.  Here were sparkling tweeds, glittering stripes, and huge riveting flashes of gold and silver. Here, too, were mixes you wouldn’t expect: plaids, tweeds, Asian influences, all woven together with familiar traces of the past and a barrage of creative, new ideas racing forward into the future, a melting pot of time and fashion design.


—Get the look with big jewelry: Consider a 15-strand necklace of multi-colored amber, gold, white and bronze Bohemia glass beads with Africana inspiration, to wear alone or with other, also big, necklaces; or, look toward India for a beaded  faux amber and turquoise beaded necklace with large enameled antique bronze disk.  Wow!


What’s the big news from New York?  Landscape jewelry! Bracelets not to be believed, often looking like something Alice-in-Wonderland’s Mad Hatter would wear! Multitextural bags and metallic clutch hand bags, many in smooth gold. Big and little tote bags (often in gold, again) in fascinating materials with decorative overlays and flaps (one in faux leopard skin) and pockets. Huge pins, as the idea of statement jewelry moves into all categories. .  Big safety-pin pins!


—Designer looks without the price tag: Opt for landscape jewelry, like a vintage look inverted bib necklace, or a large, multistrand purple necklace that fills in the

bodice with shimmering bejeweled lights!


And, everywhere, there were hats! Especially jaunty little small brimmed hats perched on the side of the head. Super spike heels with extreme pointed toes, all very porno magazine-looking. Cummerbunds. Different looks in necklaces, like a black bead choker with a long and heavy-looking tassel hanging down.  Multiple bracelets in black and red and brown, made from many exciting and different looking materials. Also, dozens of bracelets worn all at once, little slivers of gold and silver, delicate bangles on their own. Also in the Big Apple: Prints on top of prints on top of prints (think floral), a veritable mélange of looks, all well crafted and subtly effective


—Exciting bracelet action: Look for silver plated geometric bracelets for a stunning haute couture look.  Also latch onto the great Zuni-inspired Indian cuff bracelets with needlepoint turquoise look; they look like the real thing, only without the hundreds of dollars price tags.


 Of course, Jacobs wasn’t the only designer on hand at the recent New York shows.  There were the Rodarte sisters, with their real clothes, like pleated and wrap skirts and skinny pants, turned edgy and hot and worn with motorcycle jackets. BUT…what about those tough accessorizes, such as heavy black chains over black rubber bandeau bras.  Whew! 


Designer Monique Lhuillier went sexy with gold and sequins, full sleeve blouses,  Aztec embroideries and global intrigue. The look was mostly long, slinky, like painted-on gold.  From Derek Lam offered  a feathered evening dress in a deep emerald green with a long necklace of red beads  and tassels, giving it all a strangely Asian look  Lam is hot for off-beat  sunglasses,  especially those with light or white rims and big back lenses. And designer after designer offered up a number of trendy ideas shared in common, like  white lace stockings, neutral colors, and clear bright colors.


–Picking up on the color express:  Wear green, it’s not just environmentally sound, it’s also hot!  A good choice is a large forest green ceramic beaded necklace with iridescent black faceted glass separators. Or, check out the many multicolored bangle bracelets available in a wide variety of colors, to be worn in multiples for a NOW look. 


Little belts stayed hot, meaning .skinny little things in a very different color from the rest of the outfit, like yellow over white or green over tan.  See through materials were everywhere.   Black is still very popular, hot, mysterious.   Big black sunglasses never go out of style…they are too Hollywood.  Big, statement necklaces make the scene very new looking, no matter what the outfit!  Lots of horn necklaces, some even gruesome, dangerous looking.  Horn bracelets, too. Plenty of new materials being used for jewelry, as well as new designs and even basic forms.  Some of it is industrial, some futuristic. 


In the handbag arena, a big trend involved straps worn crosswise over the chest.

And the earrings!  They are getting bigger.  Much bigger.  Some designs rise half-way up the ear in light filigree, and then drop down in chandelier fashion. Other very long earrings actually drape on the shoulder…when have you ever seen that?  Zoe Posem’s models wore  earrings that looked like heavy clusters of small coins, long and thickly clustered.  


–Show stopper concepts include big earrings: Modern square earrings in silver plate give a strong architectural look to any outfit.  Concentric oval hoop earrings are available in a variety of colors for a special pop effect.  Textured metal drop earrings that fall down to a handsome tiger’s eye-like disc are Bohemian,  individualistic, and very trendy.


And then, there were the colors.  Not just New York colors (like black and brown and dark blue), but very Italian colors, purple, orange, yellow, bright, intense, vivid! .  Headbands were important, and done in crazy color combinations, like orange, gold, blue, tan…altogether in one piece.  Many fabrics seen at the shows were in bright colors with a very shiny, satiny finish..  Badgley Mischka showed a fun floral dress done in a print that was half 1950s, half very updated NOW. Brilliant.  Interesting!  Realistic!  Trying for a balancing act were neutrals, like safari colors, tan, tan, tan. And, these were anything but also-rans;  the tans and neutrals seen in New York were assertive, and just as self-conscious as any color might be!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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Spotted cat looks are stalking fall fashion, and women are pouncing upon the latest fare with excitement and zest. Everywhere you look, fashion is taking on an African mentality, with jungle images exciting a native vitality and mesmerizing with pure natural beauty. Of course, the skins are faux (copied incredibly well), which allows us to satisfy our lust for animal beauty without the price of life.  We don’t have to kill anymore. 


Here are some typical highlights of the newest African intrigue:   


  1. The diamond ultra-corporation De Beers, originally the mining and marketing diamond behemoth, crossed over into jewelry design some time back.  Their latest offering is The Talisman Collection of African-mask pendants, with large channels of clear and brown diamonds forming a tribal face.  Name of one:

The Gugu-Nimba Amulet Pendant.  Do not ask the price. 

  1. Spotted cats provide the pattern for plush leopard print fedora, cloches, and other wintry hats and caps.
  2. Leopards claw their way onto the fashion scene in exquisite print clutches and handbags by Ralph Lauren, along with many others.
  3. Silvery animal horns are growing dramatically more popular, used especially as pendants, and sometimes looking almost lethal when used in multiples as a chocker. 
  4. Python skins are hot, hot, hot.  Major use: handbags.  Also search out fabulous looking snakeskin designs in bangle bracelets.
  5.  Zebra stripes give the latest black/white color rush new meaning. See them on clutch bags, handbags, bangles.
  6. Vera Wang works brilliantly with snakeskin looks. Check out her striking pearled      snake necklace that curls around the neck without a closure.
  7. Spots and stripes mix in profusion as SOHO comes forth with a spectacular     collection of diamond-faceted horn,-like bangle bracelets.  Elegant!



SEEING SPOTS:  In the apparel field, Michael Kors has a winner in his mink collared black-spotted crepe tan coat.  Not to be outdone, Ralph Lauren has a range of leopard print clutches and handbags fit for any Fifth Avenue safari.  The fedora, this season’s ultra chic choice, can be had in a variety of felt leopard finishes.  The same holds true of warm-weather velvet caps and hooded scarves:  watch for the leopard spots-they’re fast movers this season.


But the leopard isn’t the only animal making inroads in fashion.  Classic zebra black and white stripes imprint clutch bags as well as bangles.  And, though there are no tigers native to Africa, the tiger’s unique markings are almost as prevalent in any fashion hunt, giving it an added boost of desirability.  Look for tiger prints in scarves and leather accessories, especially.  One fine jeweler combines enameled cat markings on a collection of bangles with a single station of clustered diamonds.  Wild and refined, combined.


SNAKES GO COSTUME:  Staying in a dangerous mode, luxurious snake designs are reemerging as a favorite jewelry theme. And, don’t forget, snakes have always been a major design image for fine jewelry, dating back to ancient Egypt. Now, they can slink through both fine and costume jewelry, with equal panache.  Vera Wang creates an impressive snake-like necklace with a double strand of pearls making up the body, both ends tipped with detailed silver.  The necklace curls loosely around the neck, without a closure. Positioning of the necklace is also snake-like in its flexibility.  Other forms of serpentine art are multiplied in bracelets and rings. 


Children’s jewelry is always a site to find animal charms such as paw prints or lions, elephants or giraffes, mingling in a stretch bracelet.  Elephants (politics aside) are big in every respect:  not only do they look marvelous on cuff or link silver plate bracelets, but people everywhere believe that, if the elephant’s trunk is raised, the elephant is sure to bring good luck.  So elephants make for an excellent gift choice.


DRAGONFLIES AND BEETLES: Other exotic life  forms crowding jewelry counters are enameled colored crystal bird brooches — not to mention pin-makers’ penchant for the whole world of insects such as butterflies, bees, spiders, ladybirds, dragonflies and beetles. The quality craftsmanship in select brooches conceals their present-day origins, as many look like priceless heirloom pieces from the Victorian age.


Art Nouveau techniques are popular in the latest African-inspired trend, especially in silver-plate pendants featuring charming depictions of giraffes, zebras and elephants, alone or grouped.  Gold highlights and metalworking detail add to charming realism, and many pendants have pin backs to allow for double fashion duty.



More and more customers choose to make up their own charm bracelet menageries, and they can mine the dozens of silver-plated charms available that feature wildlife from just about every continent:  monkeys, lions, rhinos, elephants, rabbits, bear, buffalo, and alligators.  And it’s just a short skip over to the domestic animal collections of dogs, cats, fish and birds. 


TRY A BUYING SAFARI:  So open your doors to some untamed newcomers. Go natural. Go green.  Bask in the gorgeous light of the Dark Continent’s most precious creations. Travel the buyer’s circuit.  There’s a lot of animal magnetism in fashion; it looks good, and sells even better.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Trends
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Designers are playing peek-a-boo with the latest trend to hit the fashion world. Everything is transparent, with look-through gauzy materials giving new definition to the bare look.  The idea is cool transparency, with plenty of skin action.  It is oh! So chic, so playful, so seductive and oh! It gives accessories a wonderful opportunity to shine, shine, shine! 


Some of the new transparent fashions are remarkably creative, with designers using embroidery and other embellishments to cover strategic spots.   Then, accessories are piled high on top of the entire creation for an even more stylized look.  Vera Wang, for example, used layer after layer of see-through materials throughout her latest collection. 


SHEER DYNAMICS; One of her outfit features a sheer silk organza tunic over an embroidered top.  On top of that:  a fabulous black and white beaded necklace of multiple circles that looked somewhat like a huge chandelier earring hanging down the front of the dress.   And, between the over necklace and the bottom sheer layer:  a long, thin and heavy necklace line of chunky black beads. These are strange ideas!  Who ever heard of one necklace over the other?  But, it works.


Alexander Wang is also hot for transparency.  Consider his wild and sexy super-short mini dress with zigzag black embroidery roaming all over, yet leaving plenty of sheer see through in its path.  The major factor here:  bracelets and wrist watches.  These are not your ordinary bracelets with a nice dress, mind you.  In this case, Wang uses multiple heavy silver jewelry on both arms, all of it with a somewhat mechanical mentality. 


NEW LOOK FOR BRACELETS: There are big and thick square silver bracelets that could be machine parts, heavy cuffs, thick banded watches with big square faces (on both arms, for goodness sake!) and here and there a skinny little silver bangle for interest.  And wow!  Does this create interest!  You don’t know which to look at first, the dress or the wrist-action.


Of course, transparency is nothing new to fashion, it has long been used to intrigue and

entrance.   This season’s newest sheer ideas do all that and more!  Many of the fashions seem to be little more than breezy, billowy material designed over outfits; yet, they give the base look a different, more sophisticated, more finished look.  With the addition of accessories, the idea comes through very strongly.


LAYER IT ON!  Overlay a transparent silk organza overshirt with colorful beads, preferably with a fashion pendant hanging down.  Add more interest with a long silver or gold-plated chain necklace.  For a really dynamic effect, add bracelets galore, practically any that you personally like will work here.  A great look can be achieved with wood stretch cuffs or silver-plated bangles or all together.  Combine the heavier bracelets with smaller, more delicate ones, like a simple link chain bracelet, and you’re right on with the present trend. 



It is amazing how good the latest craze for statement jewelry looks with transparent fabrics. The unexpected contrast between heavy and light, bold and quiet, big and small often takes you by surprise, yet never fails to entrance.  It is a vibrant updated look, different from practically anything that we have seen before, when fragile fabrics and fragile jewelry were the only combination to have.  Everything is different now!  Even color is used in a startling, strong contrasting manner, with a pale pink or blue embroidered gauzy top worn with big black or dark grey necklaces, often in multiples.  Consider hematite for a great look: It is color-trendy, and works beautifully with the latest transparency story.  


HEMATITE IS POPULAR:  Multiple strand hematite necklaces or a hematite necklace with a popular pendant, such as a Scottie dog or carved frog, create an exciting look for otherwise airy, diaphanous transparent fabrics. Earrings also make a dramatic presence with this new look.  Some great looks include linear drop earrings, plain or with circular disks that look like tiger’s eye.  Just choose big earrings to make a statement here.


In many ways, the new transparency look is like a blank piece of paper on which accessories can play out their individual charm and power.  For example, many of the transparent designs show a great deal of skin, but still tend to be unadorned by themselves.  Accessories are the lightning rod to the total look.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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COURTLY OPULENCE FASCINATES:    Today, courtly opulence and extreme silhouettes fill the pages of fashion magazines.  They show a womanly ideal that is super-rich and weighted down with huge leather bags, dangerously spiky (yet knockout!) footwear and lots of big colorful jewelry.  And do these women look fabulous and utterly with it?  Yes!  A resounding Yes! 


But:  have you ever noticed that, no matter what the current trends dictate, there is always a fashion “safety zone” where certain women choose “their look” of subtle chic?  We’re talking about neutrals … and neutrals are the balancing counterpoint to today’s nonstop opulence.  Neutral colors and rich but uncomplicated materials provide visual calm, refined relief in a sea of pop excitement and bling glamour.


  • Neutrals are a way to stand out, charmingly enveloped in understatement.


Neutral colorsWho doesn’t love camel?  Or any one of a number of shades of grey, from charcoal to pearl grey?  If you think white is simply white, take a look at the Ralph Lauren color charts for white paint.  Beige, taupe, brown, all bona fide neutrals.  And even certain washed shades of black can be considered “neutral.”


PUTTING ON THE RITZ:  There’s something aristocratic in a neutral ensemble, especially when it is craftily accessorized with rich-to-the-eye jewelry.  A , classic circular fashion pendant shimmering with gold or silver plate, perfectly accompanies neutrals.  Or interesting chain necklaces, unadorned but finished with interesting links and faceting.  And neutrals blossom when accessorized with tailored hats-try fedoras with their flirty small brims.  Gucci-style silken scarves are often the only ornamentation neutral clothing needs to draw admiring glances. 


Natural materials also merge well with neutrals.   Wood bangles mingle nicely with gold or silver plate cuffs or bangles.  Mother-of-pearl bracelets, necklaces and earrings all give a natural boost to the innate appeal of neutrals.


A SAFE HAVEN:  For many, neutral dressing is the chosen everyday style, guaranteed to always look chic and in fashion.  For others, a handsome and deftly accessorized neutral ensemble can simply be an infrequent wardrobe choice, perfectly suited for a special occasion.  Neutrals actually cushion a fashionista when she needs a sophisticated break from the bling all around her. 



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   Hey, did you ever see so many circles in fashion?  Prints of big and little circles, twisted up circles, circles within circles, on top of circles, in praise of circles.  It is a geometric blast of shape, and it has invaded every facet of the world of jewelry.  Circle bracelets are hot, whether we are talking about bangles or charm bracelets with little circles hanging off them. 


Earrings made out of circles defy design exhaustion:  There are so many ways, big and small, to say and show circles!  Think about chandelier earrings, made of cascading circles.  Or linear drops of singular circles. Or just little circle buttons.


DESIGNERS LOVE CIRCLES:  Phillip Lim showed a marvelous, large gold chain necklace with two huge colored circle pendants in his recent runway show.  At Louis Vuitton, a dangerous looking silver necklace of pieced strips culminated in a big silver circle at the throat line.  Dries Van Noten loves colorful, bakelite-looking circle bracelets in myriad colors, and strings them on cord for an altogether unique bracelet-necklace. 


Circle pendants are everywhere.  Could they be any hotter?  Turquoise circles. Amber circles.  They resonate with spiritual connotations!  Circle chain belts are as hot today as they were back in the 60s, when Yves Saint Laurent introduced his famous big circle design, still hot today. 


ARCHTYPES:  There is so much you can say about circles.  They are an ancient form.  They evoke Jungian archtypes as a symbol found in every ancient culture on the earth.   They are fun, even for children.  They are easily understandable and people relate to them.  You can be circuitous.  Or run in circles. Or circle around the matter.  Or circle in on an idea. For starters, try centering on circles in jewelry.  This is a sizzling hot one!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, October 13th, 2008