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Ideas for Jewelry & Accessory Businesses
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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.   

 

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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


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