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Archive for December, 2008...

Filed under Fashion Accessories, Fashion Jewelry
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OOOOHHHHH, CAN IT BE REAL?  Clothes that have no seasonal connection:  Are we dreaming or can this actually be?  Designers seem to think so, as they dish out numerous outfits ready to shine spring, summer, winter, and fall. How are they doing it? With new go-anywhere materials than are warm enough for cold climes, yet literally “breathe” in warm temperatures to keep wearers cool.  Also, with outfits built on a layering formula, so you put it on, take it off, as the thermometer suggests.  Many are separates, such as easy-to-wear sweaters, in rich colors, notably black, gold, and red. 


Some examples:  Donna Karan offers the story a fabulous black outfit with long sleeves, short skirt and interesting ruffle. Another Karan specialty is a minimalist, long red gown with limited Grecian lines.


Like Karan, black has always been a big boon to the super designer, Calvin Klein, and he puts forth a very shoulder-padded black slacksuit that looks a little like a police outfit circa 2100, worn with black booties. Calvin also shows a very “now” upscale design for the all-weather movement, a shiny white fitted dress.


SOME POINTS TO NOTE:  All season dressing means

  • White is a year-round color.  No more putting it away come Labor Day.
  • Black is a year-round color. No more putting it away come spring. 
  • White and black accessories stay fashionable throughout the calendar year!



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BIG GEMS STILL MESMERIZE, especially if they’re diamonds! One of the most famous, a 17th Century rock called the Wittelsbach Diamond, was recently auctioned off for a whopping $24.3 million, a record for any diamond or gemstone ever sold at auction.  This incredible 35.56-carat stone was auctioned at Christie’s in London, and went to Bond Street jeweler Laurence Graff, who out-bid New York-based Russian Aleks Paul of Global Trading. History has it, the diamond was originally given to Maria Teresa, Infantata of Spain, by her father, Philip IV of Spain. Look for it soon on a 21st Century celebrity, guaranteed.


  • YOU’D HAVE TO GO some to find a 35-plus carat faux diamond, but who really wants to wear something that heavy, anyway?  You can get the same kind of richness and comfort in the beauty of today’s cubic zirconia earrings and they defy anyone to know they are not real gemstones. 


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THE 70S ARE BACK WITH WONDERFUL FLORAL patterns and hippie fringe, plenty of ruffles, soft skirts, long dresses with a touch of Amish modesty about them, handmade looking jewelry including long, long necklaces and little handle bags you might have whipped up in knitting class,.



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                                DO-IT-YOURSELF DAZZLE


LOOSE CRYSTALS:  Crystalized Swarovski Elements has teamed up with a number of fashion industry leaders on a new book entitled, “Unbridaled: The Marriage of Tradition with Avant Garde,” due out in mid-October.  The book is dedicated to bridalwear and includes dresses and accessories from such top designers as John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Phillip Lim, Vera Wang and Jimmie Choo.


Contributors to “Unbridaled” will fete the book’s publication at a special wedding exhibition at Rockefeller Center’s rooftop garden in New York.  Leading the celebrants will be Nadja Swarovski, who plans to show how crystals are used within the bridal industry.   Crystalized Swarovski Elements is a new product brand for Swarovski crystals.  


  • YOU CAN CREATE your own dazzling designs using loose beads in glass, fiber optics, ceramic, enameled and silver plate.  The beads are sold in one dozen quantities and are available in a wide variety of colors, as well as clear. 


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                                      ON-LINE AND IN FASHION 


LINE FOR LINE:  If you’re looking for a trend to latch onto for spring, look no further.  Linear magic is where it is at!  Designers have whipped up a major assortment of dresses, blouses, slacks and shorts outfits with stripes lined vertically, horizontally, diagonally, and every which way.  Some are traditional, some feminine, many taken directly from the boys with a high level of testosterone emanating from their “grey flannel suit” élan. 


Most of the stripes are black and white, but some are colorful, bouncy, fun.  Vivienne Westwood sparkles with the latter category, showing a halter top-and-bottom design in brilliant colors of orange, citrus, and black.  D & G features wide striped slacks outfit in red and white with white shoulder bag and a big red floral pin at the neckline.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Filed under Rhinestone Jewelry
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Wholesale rhinestone jewelry picks up dramatically starting New Year’s Eve as retailers see increased demand.  And it’s only the beginning.  The next few months are a steady lineup of events that call for rhinestone jewelry.  Mardi Gras balls begin, prom comes in March and April, pageants and bridal are in full swing, dance competitions, choral groups, and staged events provide even more demand for rhinestone jewelry.  Easter comes in April, Mother’s Day in May, followed by June brides. 


Fortunately the glittery look is more affordable than ever.  While everything in fashion jewelry seems to be going up, only rhinestone jewelry is reaching new affordable low prices.  So today the lavish rhinestone jewelry that really makes a statement for balls and pageant is more popular than ever because it is so affordable. 


Rhinestone necklace sets in bibs, cascades, and fringe designs that can turn heads at special events, open customers’ eyes with such affordable prices.  Clear rhinestones in silver plaiting generate the most dazzle and are the runaway first choice. 


A trend developing in pageant is dramatic earrings with a bare neck.  It seems the rhinestone earrings can’t be super-sized enough.  You see this in all the major televised pageants.  So dramatic rhinestone earrings need to be part of a glittery fashion selection for those that opt for earrings over necklace sets. 


Still dramatic size is not for every personality or every event.  Many prefer an understated look even for balls.  Bridal and prom almost always prefer a more delicate statement.  Classic chokers in moderate size deliver the conservative look that pleases many personalities.  This tasteful look has a history of elegance that appeals to every age group as it brings to mind Victorian sophistication.



Y necklaces remain popular with prom girls as well as anything trendy such as long dangling box chain from a rhinestone design-the rhinestone set pictured.  Simplicity is also important for prom as well as delicate size.  Simple linear earrings and rhinestone necklace sets that are understated suit these girls. 





Bridal prefers elegant simplicity.  Brides want everything perfect and the wedding day jewelry is most important because it survives for generations in wedding albums.  Tasteful simplicity is the key with again clear rhinestones in silver plated settings are best.  The look of V necklaces, delicate chokers, rhinestone hearts, or any delicate rhinestone necklace set that balances good taste with just enough shimmer provides the look that appeals to brides. 


Don’t forget the bracelets.  Rhinestone bracelets make a wonderful compliment to any special occasion and the event dictates the size-delicate for bridal and prom, dramatic for balls and pageant.  Rhinestone bracelets are also a frequent bridesmaid gift, which means multiple sales for bridal shops. 


Rhinestone jewelry has an added benefit for retailers concerned about the economy.  Most occasions for rhinestone jewelry are a need rather than a whim and that takes economy out of the equation.  So prepare now because the best months are already starting.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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SHINE ON:  This Spring, look for plenty of shine and shimmer as glitz continues, only with a slightly softer, more sophisticated appearance than we’ve seen in recent seasons. Iridescence is one of the major shine factors, seen big time in jewelry.  Coach is also using shine as a hot sales lure for many handbags.  Balenciaga revs up the shine factor in a jacket of shiny, almost luminescent, stripes.  Versace adds to the glamour with a silvery, shiny, metallic halter dress ideal for city nights with a tropical flare.


  • Metallic accessories are hot, hot, hot and they don’t need a top designer name to shine in the fashion world. Add a shiny pink sash to any dress or slacks outfit for instant glamour. 



  • A shimmery shoulder bag with large round silver sequins goes from day to evening with ease, while a crocheted all-over sequined bag has just the amount of shine and color for casual wear. 


MATH CLASS:  Geometric madness also reigns supreme in the fashion field now.  Look for polka dots on top of the popularity scale, including square polka dots, and grid squares.  Black diamonds take importance in a lovely 30s-chic outfit at Moschino and a long evening dress at Zac Posen. A long-sleeved dress of black and white stripes going every which way was set off by purple hair at the spring showing of the inimitable Betsey Johnson.  From Michael Kors come big red and white polka dots splashed over a black skirt with a red, black and white striped tee.


  • Geometric designs give accessories a dynamite look for spring! An oblong polka dot scarf in white with red or black polka dots makes a handsome geometric statement for the season.  The mathematical effect is doubled with alternating rows of chiffon and satin polyester.  
  • For a simpler, monochromatic look, consider an oblong scarf with alternating rows of chiffon and satin polyester in brilliant green or any of five other fashion colors. 


BASICALLY BARE:  Now you see it, now you don’t.  But mostly…you do, with the sheer factor making major waves in spring outfits.  Sonia Rykiel shows a dress of wide stripes, alternating red material and see-through sheer. Wild, but…does it belong out of the bedroom?  More sheer from Nina Ricci in a pale white, long sleeve to-the-floor very sheer dress worn with just the bare body plus black stockings. Bagley Mischka shows a black and sheer evening dress of flounce and appliqués, exaggerating the model’s full (and basically out-of-fashion) hour-glass figure.  It, too, is sheer, sheer, sheer.  Whew! What’s going on here…?


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GENTILITY RETURNS:  A new campaign by Burberry, photographed at England’s fabulous Petersham Nurseries, takes the firm and its products on a fascinating journey back to nature.  Luxurious pictures show the posh garden center just outside of London, lush with young and mature flora, and give a new, quieter touch to the company’s products.


The ads will start running in numerous international fashion publications in February and will place major emphasis on a new sport collection, hot selling jewelry, and shoes.  “I wanted the mood to be gentle, relaxed, romantic, and about a quiet, beautiful sense of luxury,” declared the firm’s creative director, Christopher Bailey.  In what suggests a beginning industry-wide move away from outrageous glitz, the ads offer a long awaited return to real elegance and refinement. 


  • You can mimic the Burberry mystique with accessories that are a little smaller, a little quieter, a little purer.  Shine that isn’t blinding.  Evolved glitz.  Look for       classics with a Grace Kelly feel, or minimalist modern accessories that keep  things smooth and unembellished.



A gentle garden theme comes through in a charming embroidered bunny rabbit tote bagOr, you can emphasize quiet luxury with a beautiful, traditional silver- tone necklace featuring faceted crystal and faux pearls.  Choose all pink or white with iridescent crystals, great for holiday or weekend extravaganzas.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, December 27th, 2008

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SEDUCTION: The very word conjures up excitement and intrigue, naughty behavior and possible exotica, sensual couplings and secret meetings.  It is anything but proper, arranged behavior, but it is also rarely vulgar or blatant.  Seductions aren’t expected to take place in pizza parlors, but in elegant restaurants.  Seductions take place quietly, often soundlessly, the woman as much in command as the man.  Seductions are the things great romantic novels are often based on. They are the fantasies of a young girl’s dreams.


The museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan is presently celebrating “Seduction,” and the role clothes play in temptation and enticement.   The clothes cross over a broad spectrum of styles, many not so sexy by modern terms, but pretty racy in their times. The Show runs through June of 2009, and includes some fascinating bits of trivia, as well as fashion pieces. 


                                         Danger and Seduction


For example, a 1958 cocktail dress designed by Cristobal Balenciaga features a black peek-a-boo back design plus a fuchsia bow that once belonged to Ann Woodward.  She, you may remember, was the lady who shot and killed her banking heir husband, William Woodward, Jr., saying she thought he was a prowler. The Museum display doesn’t say how much she inherited. The Woodward piece, though, adds an element of danger to the seductive play, so often darkly alluring.


THE SHOW CURATOR, Colleen Hill, points out that “The proximity of clothing to the body is inherently sensual, conveyed through the strategic interplay of exposure and concealment.”  A better example can be found in jewelry, which not only touches skin, but often flashes out from skin a wordless but powerful come-hither message. When it comes to seduction, jewelry has it way over clothing, as anybody knows.


                                         Seductive Mystique


Consider Elizabeth Taylor, who has reigned as Queen of Seduction for decades now.  Still, even at her present age, this gloriously endowed creature succeeds in seducing most men who look at her. She has an indefinable seductive mystique.

– – Ahhh, but as time takes its toll, and as clothing loses its allure to age and avoirdupois, jewelry rushes in to pick up the excitement. Jewelry shimmers on its own, adding glamour without making demands. It reflects so many qualities of seduction:  movement, beauty, magnetism, intensity, things desired, things even out-of-reach.


  • YOU CAN WEAVE A WEB OF SEDUCTION, TOO:   Necklaces that use pendants that drop down seductively on the bosom are particularly dramatic and can be quiet or bold, as you choose.  Black glass jewelry can be sizzling.  Consider a necklace of Murano-style glass beads with shiny black heart pendant.  Or, try for innocent seduction with what is otherwise traditional wedding jewelry (nobody says it has to be for that day only). A simple strand of white faux pearls with sparkling floral motif drop and dangling pear-shaped pearl commands and directs attention…but in oh, such an understated way!


The FIT MUSEUM designs on display date back to 1755 and a dress with open-front bodice which surely would capture a high score on any modesty register.  Other designs are less conservative, such as a 2004 lambskin and black silk evening dress and a hard sex rather than seductive inclusion, a Playboy bunny suit sized 32- and 34-D and meant to be worn at the Playboy Mansion only. 


                                    Memories of Malmaison


“Seduction” may have reigned supreme in past decades, but it is no less important today, even in an era of in-your-face sexuality. And clothes still play a critical seduction role. Take much of designer Donatella Versace’s clothes, for example, so often nearly bodice-naked, but beautifully crafted, exquisitely revealing, reminiscent of yesteryear’s Malmaison and a decidedly decadent French court. Then, there are long slits up the sides of skirts, mini-mini skirts, dresses with strategically placed netting, and more, so much more.  What really great design doesn’t have a seductive quality?


  • YOU CAN ADD TO THE SEDUCTION:   Bracelets can be wildly seductive, bringing attention to the arms and hands just as traditional Hawaiian dancing does. What works? A heart bracelet dangling off an elongated link chain.  Or, multiple link bracelets with hearts.  Or, a cuff bracelet featuring two distinct interwoven chains and creating just vague tracings of sound and movement. And, don’t forget the sensual quality of the ankle, either.  Try enhancing it with an ankle bracelet of faceted jet or iridescent Swarovski crystals dripping off an anklet of fine beaded chain.  Whew!



If you choose to create a display for seductive jewelry, think about the word and its expressions, worldwide, throughout time.  Middle Eastern bellydancers seduce with movement.  Composers seduce with music.  An entire world industry of eye makeup exists for the sole purpose of helping women seduce with their eyes, with a look, with wordless intensity. And fashion…it is perhaps, the master of seductive arts, using form, and color, and line, and mood. 


Like a flower.  Or, a spider…

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, December 26th, 2008

Filed under Hats
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Cold weather and scattered snow cover much of the country as we approach Christmas Day.  Everyone bundles up for last minute shopping and headwear is indispensible for this weather.  That’s good news for hat sales that go right on through January and February.  And women want to be stylish as well as comfortable.


Offer clientele matching glove, hat, and scarf sets so they can bundle up in fashion.  Sets come with the soft feel of chenille fabric as well as fleece with faux fur animal print trim.  Solid colors are also available with matching faux fur trim.  This was a wonderful gift item through the Christmas season and now makes fashionable cold weather warmth for personal use. 


Fedoras are stepping up big time this winter with celebrities and fashion runways leading the charge.  Orders show these stylish hats are on an upswing and demand is often outstripping supply-an ideal situation for keeping this headwear on top.  Shapes show a modified look for today’s consumers, often with a more rounded point in the front and prints and weaves (like pinstripe, houndstooth and herringbone) that contrast with a solid color underbrim.  Fedoras are especially hot with the younger market. 


Cabbies continue to reign in popularity with a look too cute to ignore.  Accessories Magazine’s year end report placed these hats (also called newsboys) at the top of the list for department store sales in headwear for 2007.  Will the newsboy repeat in 2008?  Very likely because sales continue to be brisk in these styles.  Winter cabbies have wool patterns like herringbone or solid fall colors and appeal to a wide segment of the market. 


Cadets are the new kid on the block this winter and are making their mark in hat sales.  The caps, shaped like an army fatigue hat, are making ball caps look, well…..”Old hat”.  These styles, often worn with the bill to one side by young adults, will most likely grow in popularity over the next couple of seasons. 


Demand for hats is definitely increasing with celebrities inspiring fans and runways influencing the fashion conscious.  If you sense this demand in your customer base, keep them shopping with you by giving them the looks they want.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Filed under Fashion Business Trends
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BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  There is a saying that you either love them or you hate them…but that is not necessarily so.  The key is to find the right books for the right person, and then everything changes.  My youngest nephew, who wouldn’t go near a book with a ten-foot pole, became totally entranced with reading when my sister gifted him with a hands-on how-to manual for building your own sports car. 


There are business people who feel the same way.  Some read incessantly; some hate reading with a passion.  Put the right books in their hands, though, and chances are both camps will come together with enthusiasm. It’s a matter of focus.


We found several books we thought professionals would enjoy, books that tap into a basic business drive for success. Directly or indirectly, these are books that show you how to increase the green in your wallet without making a pact with the devil.  (If you want to make a pact, though, try reading Faust, which is not on our list.)


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Just Enough Anxiety:  The Hidden Driver of Business Success (Portfolio, $24.95)  by Robert Rosen. 

The author, who is head of Healthy Companies International, contends that anxiety can actually be a boon to your business life, if you have the tools to harness its power. In this intriguing book, Rosen describes the five leading indicators of business success and shows how the reader can emotionally access them.


Breakdown, Breakthrough:  The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose (Barrett Koehler, $16.95)  by Kathy Caprino. 

Real life examples of women who have succeeded in business give this book special verve and authenticity.  It lists twelve very particular challenges that face women in the working world and shows how they can be overcome.  It all has to do with making your own success breakthrough.   


  • TO MAKE READING EASIER:  Choose from a variety of handsome reading glasses in all the popular powers. These high quality glasses feature plastic or metal frames in a variety of colors.  Arms are spring loaded and lenses are aspheric, a thinner, flatter design that helps reduce distortion. Glasses are available in half and full lens for both men and women.  A very stylish rectangular glass with unexpectedly attractive frame is hot, trendy.  An excellent reading glass for men is oversized, with designer-look metal frame.



How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Around the World (AMACON, $21.95)  by Frank Acuff.

This is a terrific book for anyone to read.  The book discusses common negotiating mistakes and details ways of avoiding them.  You don’t have to be globally active to benefit greatly from Acuff’s observations.  However, if you do conduct business on a global scale (or if you’re just interested in learning about foreign customs) this is really a dynamite read.  Learn all kinds of fascinating (even peculiar) customs from nations around the world!


Leading with Kindness:  Good People Consistently Get Superior Results (AMACON, $24.95) by Baker and O’Malley.

The basic theory here is that there are six basic ingredients of kindness – compassion, integrity, gratitude, authenticity, humility, and honor – and that each is essential to the role of leader.  Well…there are many people who would disagree, describing this as somewhat PollyAnna-ish, when viewed against an often cutthroat business world. But  before taking such as jaded viewpoint, do look this book over. You could change your mind.  This is truly a must-read for anyone in a managerial position


The Levity Effect:  Why it Pays to Lighten Up  (Wiley, $22.95)  by Gostick and Christopher.

Fun in the workplace?  This very idea could make a business owner cringe.  But groundbreaking research on over 1 million employees indicates that fun and humor go a long way toward building a successful and highly productive workplace.  The authors say their book is aimed at getting “seriousaholics to be more creative.”    


  • TO START LIGHTENING UP RIGHT AWAY:    Think about “fun” bookmarks to keep your place while you’re reading … they’ll keep you in a playful mood.  Choose from many different, handsome metal bookmarks featuring sports designs to fit almost everyone’s interests,  including  baseball, tennis, softball, soccer, football, and more. It’s worth taking a break just to use these playful pieces!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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Hey… have you seen the latest super-trendy jewelry pieces from a number of top jewelers the country, like Tiffany and Mayors?  No…they are not big, bold, chunky, or signature….they are tiny, delicate, fragile-looking items, exactly the opposite of what we’ve seen in recent seasons. 


And, they are beautiful, sweet little pieces with a whole new individual ambiance, and while they’re not likely to replace the bold look so popular now, they are still hot in the running to attract plenty of buyers.


ARE THEY A SURPRISE? Absolutely!  But when you think about it, tiny jewelry is probably what we should expect.  Look at the economy:  It is in tatters.  People aren’t spending money on big ticket items.  


                                         SPENDING PSYCHOSIS?


Suddenly, even the compulsive handbag mania that has gripped the nation, with bags selling for thousands of dollars each, has slowed to a trickle.  Some say spending money like that on luxury items like that is obscene in a time like this.   Hmmmm.  Could be.


At any rate, very expensive jewelers aren’t about to be knocked out of the box that easily. They are introducing new collections, at relatively low prices (well, at least for these big name firms) and the way they are doing it is by reducing sizes without reducing quality or design integrity.  It is an interesting and creative solution! 


                            CUTTING BACK WITHOUT ADMITTING IT?    


So, look at this:  The elegant jewelry house, Mayors, advertises its latest grouping of Lilliputian jewelry in Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper as “MY LITTLE WAY OF SAYING A LOT.”  Shown, in delicate, wispy-like pale grey illustrations, are small pave diamond mini-pendants set in platinum and hanging from very thin (delicate) chain.


The grouping includes a dragonfly, moon, Star of David, key, and heart, with prices running from just under $1,000 to $1,795.  Admittedly, these prices aren’t low, but for Mayors they are itsy-bitsy, you might say, and wayyyyyy below the prices hung on the big, bold jewelry that’s recently been the prime focus of industry attention. 


–The big question here, however, is this:  Will these little guys have the power of the big stuff to work for Valentine’s Day? Or birthdays?  Or anniversaries?  That has yet to be seen…


  • STILL, YOU CAN GET THE LOOK:  Search out charming textured starfish pendants in rich crystal pave, or choose a sparkly cat pendant with black crystal eyes and silver plated body with pave crystals.  Particularly delicate is an artistic outline of dolphins in hand-polished silver plate with gold highlights.   


Tiffany is really big on little things, like pave star, horseshoe, and heart pendants, the kind of things usually dangled off a charm bracelet, but now doubling as fine jewelry pendant pieces. 


Jane Hollinger has designed a minimal necklace that is nothing more than a small wire rectangle suspended off a thin gold chain.  Then, there are a lot of skinny, thin gold and sterling bangle bracelets out there, to be worn alone in this new “little” mode, or in multiples with big cuffs and statement bracelets for a bold expression. 


  • YOU CAN GET THE LOOK:  Pick out multicolored bracelets with cube and faceted glass beads suspended on coated black wire.  Minimal and delicate.  Or, choose an elongated wire bracelet with silver and gold plate double heart drop.


Some of these new high-style bracelets aren’t even gold, although they don’t portend to be costume jewelry, either, frequently using the designer’s name for their exclusive raison d’être.  Haute couture on a budget.

     –Like Diane Kordas’ string bracelets, which are just that: skinny bracelets in multi-colored string, knotted a few times where gemstones might otherwise be, and pulled together with tiny gold clasps. You could probably make these in a beginner’s craft class in about ten minutes, but here they sell for $350 each.  Amazing!

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

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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IS THERE ANYTHING MORE DELIGHTFUL at Christmas than the sight of lights bringing beauty and excitement to homes, restaurants, city parks and public Christmas trees, parading yachts on luxury waterways, and buildings big and small, just about everywhere? 


Who doesn’t get into their car and drive around the neighborhood to see who’s done what to make their home merrier, happier, more glittery for the holidays.  As far away as Japan, where Christians are in a decided minority, lights are everywhere, because the Japanese have fallen in love with the look of a western Christmas.  And why not?


  • What a better way for customers to bundle up for a Christmas ride around their neighborhood than with winter hats that are fashionable and practical.  Trimmed in faux mink that is remarkably real looking, this is an ideal way for them to stay cozy while enjoying the holiday sights.  If they’re planning on going caroling, they might want an even warmer outfit, with hat, scarf and gloves in handsome, warm fleece available in a collection of appealing winter colors.

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Some of the most thrilling Christmas visions are store windows, where artisans have created winter wonderlands for all to see.  Perhaps the best known, of all, is Macy’s New York (although the stores’ windows across the country, from Boston to San Francisco are all aglitter).  The basic theme of Macy’s this year is “Believing, and the magic behind the scenes.”  Many of its windows are even interactive!  It’s a fabulous sight to behold, these moving, transforming, brilliant window displays as they express the magical hopes and fantasies of us all. 


                                    ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS BELIEVE


INSIDE THE STORE, Macy’s has continued the spectacular, with the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, playing for all to see, underwriting the Christmas statement that Miracles Do Happen!  At the same time, Macy’s 13,000 square foot Santaland Christmas Village attracts visitors from around the world, this year as in the past, with Santa royally present, as always, since his arrival with the spectacular Thanksgiving Day parade.


On a more sophisticated note are Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows, ablaze with crystallized Swarovski Elements.  Themed to “Love at First Sight,” this year’s windows are breathtaking glamour, with “diamond dust” sprinkled on huge red hearts and wardrobe sensationals from a bevy of designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Zac Posen.  Oh…it is enough to excite wardrobe fantasies in anyone!   


  • You can get in on the crystal look this Christmas with the ever popular crystal tennis bracelets that everyone loves.  Or, choose a wide, cuff-like bracelet of Austrian crystal in a cut-out floral design.  If you are into retro Christmases, an art deco crystal bracelet will be just right for you, like a stunning black and clear stretch bracelet that is just over 5″ wide and fits almost any wrist.


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Bloomingdale’s New York takes a more family-oriented approach to Christmas, with the theme of Home, Hearth and Winter Sports.  The store dips back to the 1950s for a strictly retro look at Christmas Past, complete with a yesteryear family gathered around a charming Christmas tree, children unwrapping gifts, and Tony Bennett crooning on the record player. 


                                        CRYSTAL PALACE WONDERS


Bergdorf Goodman takes an earthly route to Christmas marvels, with dreamlike scenes from all four seasons in its “Calendar Girls” holiday windows theme.  The whole garden panorama is replete with crystal palace make-believe wonders, including creamy white birds and butterflies, winter white branches and golden trees, artsy blossoms, worms and waterfalls, dragonflies, turtles and lagoons, even overhead dangling jewelry…what a  breathtaking display!     


But…what about the windows of fashion emporiums abroad?  These are no less incredible, dramatic, and creative.  Harrods in London features the inimitable James Bond via a “Quantum of Solace” theme, with such wild window props as the Sunseeker speedboat and the classy Aston Martin driven by 007 superstar, Daniel Craig.  Let’s not miss the Prada dress worn by Olga Kurylenko – that’s here, too! 


  • Since gemstones are always high on the moneyed set’s list, choose a gorgeous olive-hued serpentine necklace certain to entrance the James Bond aficionados among you. The necklace also features silver seed beads and clear faceted crystals. Double the glamour with matching earrings.  For evening drama, consider a deep, dark 3-strand Indian agate necklace with matching earrings.  Dramatic!


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In the City of Light, Nina Ricci’s flagship store is a barrage of mirrors cut and folded like origami sculptures.  In Milan, mirrors likewise reflect glittery Christmas images at Prada’s flagship store.  And, back in London, a Harvey Nicholas Christmas is shining with stunning reflections as geometric prisms cast color and light on designer holiday fashions.


IT IS ALL JUST WONDERFUL!  It is fun!  It is Christmas!  At Selfridges in London, Santa is an entertaining spectacle, trying to descend a chimney after drinking too much Christmas grog.  At Barneys New York, yesterday’s counterculture lives again in a happy hippie holiday complete with a one-way Magic Ride to Psychedelicsville.  All across the nation and the world, this is the season for light.  For imagination.  For hope.


Macy’s is asking everyone to write a letter to Santa and deposit it in Santa’s mailbox in the store.  It’s all part of that wonderful Christmas “Believe” campaign.  Well, of course we are too old to really believe, but…maybe…it’s worth a try.

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

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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Business experts predict that overall holiday sales will run anyplace from poor to miserable this year, not exactly good news for fashion retailers.   However, one bright light in the otherwise dim package is accessories, which are driving sales at practically all price levels. 


Accessories have become so important; they are the main display lead in department stores and boutiques.  Firms are expanding their accessories’ offerings, zeroing in on top sellers, like soft accessories and jewelry.


Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer at Saks Fifth Avenue, says that there is greater consumer interest in gift-giving accessories, like small leather goods.  Marc by Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch handbags are very popular, and top jewelry lines from Cartier and Chopard are likewise selling well.


Notwithstanding these pockets of interest, Saks is still discounting in a major way, even in the accessories field.  Within the last week, for instance, the store was offering $1,000 designer handbags on sale for $100-$200. Not a good sign.


But accessories at an affordable price level?  They can be winners.


  • APPRECIATE CHOPARD, from its rich diamond elegance to its clean, simple lines.  You can mimic the look with a stunning CZ circle necklace, a major theme with Chopard.  Or, you might consider a beautiful clear Austrian crystal cuff bracelet, again centered on a luxurious Chopard-inspired diamond look.


Unlike many previous recessions, when the luxury sector tended to hold up well, this financial problem is hitting the moneyed sector hard. Revenues at major luxury retailers, like Saks Fifth Avenue, are being slapped down by sluggish sales.


Retailers and manufacturers are running hard to come up with ideas to ease the red ink environment.  


Frasch expects products that are not of the moment i.e., products that are investment pieces, to hold up well, like jewelry. Jewelry spanning what he called multiple price levels, like David Yurman and Judith Ripka pieces, are “hanging tough.”


  • MULTIPLE PRICE POINTS PROMOTE SALES:  you can capitalize on the same idea by choosing jewelry that bridges several price levels. Consider a spiraling silver-plated cuff bracelet and then visit the southwest for a Zuni inspired cuff bracelet. They are both very trendy and inexpensive.  For a higher priced promotional item to counter-balance the two, try a large CZ pageant crown, great for school affairs, New Year’s Eve, and more!


J. Crew is expanding its accessories, expecting sales to pay off in the fourth quarter.  Costume jewelry displays are up front in all their stores. Many retailers are also adding special gift-giving items to spice up their sales action. 


At Henri Bendel, president Ed Bucciarelli said the store is increasing its assortment of accessories and upping its accessories “shops” by about 30 percent this Christmas because they are becoming so important..    He also wants customers to see displays of accessories as soon as they enter the store.  “The strength of the holidays is around accessories,” he declared. 


Breaking back prices at the manufacturing level is also important this year.  Brian Bolke, owner of a Dallas boutique, said he is working with sources to develop earrings in gold or precious metals for under $250.  Others are doing the same thing with diamonds.  Just about everyone is working harder to top value at lower prices for their customers. 


  • ZERO IN ON HOT BOUTIQUE ITEMS:  You can mimic the earrings being commissioned by Bolke with handsome diamond-look earrings. Choose a sedate pair of diamond studs or go for large pear-shaped CZ earrings. Particularly fitting to the holiday story is a gift collection of three pair of CZ earrings in a clear Lucite box, What a great gift!


A number of fashion brands are expanding lower cost products in order to increase revenue this Christmas. Several, like Emilio Pucci, have branched out into eyewear; others, like Badgley Mischka, have introduced designer watches.  Donna Karan has also revitalized her handbag collection. 


Michael Kors, the super high-class couturier designer, now makes most of his money from mid-tier accessories. In fact, accessories now account for 75 percent of the firm’s volume. 


  • DESIGNER-INSPIRED EYEWEAR HOT ON CHRISTMAS LISTS: Dark, rectangular sunglasses in trendy bronze, pewter, or gunmetal frames give an exclusive designer look for a fraction of the price. Oversized sunglasses with dark lenses set into a handsome wrap design give an expensive French Riviera impression without the high price! 


Retailers say that woven handbags are big.  And, small eyeglass holders are popular.  Shiny leather clutches from Tory Burch are selling well.  Shimmery gold cuffs from Judith Ripka are hot. In a bad economy, not everything is off. 


Holding on to market importance are items that have an artisan look to them and pieces that are one-of-a-kind in appearance. In other words, expensive-looking items.  Think Cartier-style jewelry with plenty of gemstones, like the firm’s Patiala necklace. It would be incredibly glitzy, except that it’s real.


Also from the famed jeweler: A large-faced round watch  with a pink bezel, black Roman numerals, and a white face set off by a simple black leather band.  This is a relatively unadorned Cartier specialty, but rich and elegant. Other designs feature the same clean cut designs only with diamond bezels. Still not too glitzy, the watches offer class but, at the same time, come more in line with the present Christmas frugality mood (if anything from Cartier could be considered frugal). 


MIMIC THE CARTIER INITIATIVE:  Handsome, minimalist, rich.  That’s the idea.  Use the formula for finding gifts with fabulous price-to-value ratio. Sparkling rhinestone pins are among the top gift-giving items this year, in sure-to-sell nature themes like swans and butterflies.  For a religious note, look at the beautiful rhinestone cross brooches.  A charming secular gift is an Austrian crystal flower pin, very fine jeweler-looking, but easy on the pocketbook.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, December 12th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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Here’s some uplifting news for fashion jewelry retailers to counter all the gloom and doom they hear from the media, but first some bigger news for residents of New Orleans and South Louisiana.  New Orleans got its white Christmas early with snow covering the ground for the first time since December, 2004-enough snow to build a snowman spotted on the way to work.  This might not be exciting in Minnesota, but many kids in New Orleans saw snow for the first time.

Now back to the subject of wholesale fashion jewelry and how it is selling.  A steady stream of gloomy news definitely impacted wholesale fashion jewelry in November with our own statistics showing a 34% slowdown compared to November 2007.  The initial shock had retailers in a cautious mood as they under-bought to stock for the Holidays. 


Normally fashion jewelry in moderate price ranges enjoy immunity to economic slowdowns.    The fact is pointed out in Fashion Jewelry, Fuel, and the Economy that traces fashion jewelry sales through the recessions that occurred in the last 25 years. 


Economic slowdowns often have positive effects on fashion jewelry and accessories.  Women update last year’s wardrobe with fresh accessories and fashion jewelry.  Also there’s the “lipstick effect” noticed by Estee Lauder in the recession of 1991.  Lipstick sales increased as luxury goods in department stores slowed down, showing that women don’t quit buying-they just buy lower priced items. 


Trends are more important than economy in fashion jewelry sales.  Minimalism in the mid nineties pushed the natural look with small or no jewelry.  While the media raved about the economy, fashion jewelry businesses were in troubled waters. 


Today’s trends definitely favor fashion jewelry with emphasis on color and dramatic size.  These qualities along with the beauty of classic jewelry so prevalent in the trends makes affordable fashion jewelry irresistible. 


So after a dismal November, what’s going on in December?  The initial shock has passed and retailers have customers needing fashion jewelry to accessorize holiday apparel and give as gifts.  Retail shops are surprised that Christmas shopping isn’t as bleak as the picture painted by the media and quick restock is needed to satisfy shoppers.  Our figures for December are 7% better than 2007 ands the mood of fashion retailers is changing.  Fashion jewelry businesses can expect a return to normal as we move through 2009, but don’t look for the media to report it because it lacks the drama that increases viewing audiences.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Thursday, December 11th, 2008