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Archive for February, 2009...

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SOME SAY DUBLIN is the only place to be on St. Patrick’s Day, but they are wrong, dead wrong.  The only place to be on St. Patrick’s Day is New York.  It is a fabulous experience, and you really don’t know what a March 17th celebration is until you’ve seen it for yourself. The City is literally transformed. Thousands upon thousands crowd into its streets, all of them Irish, or claiming to be Irish for the day.


Everyone is happy, everyone is friendly.  And everyone eagerly awaits the bagpipes that signal the start of the  parade of parades as it begins its majestic swing up Fifth Avenue – the street where, just a little more than a century ago, employment signs all read NINA, (No Irish Need Apply). 


                                         Parade of Parades


NOW, THERE IS A GREEN LINE up the famous boulevard and all New Yorkers –the governor, the mayor, senators, the super-rich and powerful, corporate officers, military units, union leaders and workers, students, policemen, and descents of clan after clan  – are proud to march in what has often been called  the quintessential immigrant parade.


Sure, there are many ethnic parades in New York, but this was the first of its kind.  What’s more, it dramatically shows what immigrants have endured coming to this country, and what they have accomplished. So it is a great day for the Irish, and everybody else!  It’s that green line up Fifth Avenue.  It says, “We made it!”


YOU CAN BE IRISH FOR THE DAY, TOO:  Just have fun wearing some of these great items:





  • A St. Patrick’s Day bracelet with rows of enameled leprechaun charms.






                                 Green Beer and Pub Crawls


Of course, St.Patrick’s Day in New York City isn’t all green cotton candy.  It can also get downright rowdy, rambunctious, and raucous.  Once the multi-hour parade draws to a close, celebrating “Irish” fill up with green beer or Jameson’s at all the Irish pubs and bistros in town.


Irish bands and entertainers abound.  This year, The Pogues famous Irish folk and rock group will entertain at Roseland Dance Hall, while the Irish Musical Ambassadors will be at Carnegie Hall. And, of course, there is always the somewhat disreputable Irish Pub Crawl, which this year will run 3 days, cover 300 taverns, and frankly benefit no one but the barkeeps..




–We can’t fail to mention the oldest Irish pub in New York, McSorley’s Old Ale House, downtown. It stayed male-only longer than any bar in town but finally crumbled in 1970 under the weight of the feminist movement. Not that it made much difference. Even though McSorley’s distinguished patrons have run from Abraham Lincoln to the poet Brendan Behan, one New York woman delicately said it for her gender: “I wouldn’t be caught dead in the dump.”   


STILL, IF YOU AIM TO DEDICATE YOURSELF TO THE ART OF IRISH ELBOW- BENDING this year, you might want to stock up on these fun-time souvenirs:







  • A “Proud to be Irish” pendant. Sort of comment on the obvious!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Filed under Hats
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GUESS WHAT is suddenly pushing forward as one of the hottest accessories categories of the year?  Hats!  Big, small, cozy, spring-like, caps, church hats, fedoras, you name it.  They are all enjoying new respect and attention as a bevy of top couturiers give them their names and design refinement.


As hats return to their traditional importance in fashion, they are being seen as a key accessory and couture status symbol. Hats, one European stylist contended, are absolutely essential for expressing individual style.  They finish an outfit.  Without a hat, well…a lady is only half-dressed.


                                             British Classic


IN THE COLD WEATHER category, tweeds are red hot, especially Scottish tweeds and felts in protective headgear like winter caps. A very refined design comes from Anthony Peto, whose handsome tweed cap features exquisite tailoring with a same-material (rim), classic lines, and a medium-sized brim.  The look is terribly British, the kind of hat you’d expect to see on someone rambling in the Cotswolds or the Scottish Highlands.  


A hat distributor in Ghent, Belgium, said that, despite the bad economy, his budget was up 10 percent on these hats, and his general attitude for the rest of the year was positively encouraging.  Hats.  They are really hot!



  • A military inspired cadet winter cap in brown and white check separating rows of black and white herringbone.  It’s a double for Peto’s designer cap, but at a fraction of the price!




  • A handsome wool felt hat with high crown and upturned front brim that narrows toward the back.  In grey or blue, this is a very flattering style for everyone!


                                    Milan Designers


AT THE RECENT SHOWS in Milan, Prada, Gucci, and Mui Mui were just a few of the top designers showing their runway outfits complete with hats.  In New York, the new and sweet little boater hats in almost endless variations have become almost eponymous with designer Marc Jacobs, who placed them on the heads of all his recent runway models.


The fedora, which has been in the fashion news for a couple of seasons now, not only isn’t losing its popularity, it is more important than ever, showing up in many different materials and style modes, not the least of which are checks.



  • A fun fedora in crushable, fancy-weave polyester.  In a variety of colors.






  • A rush straw safari hat, very “Out of Africa” chic; or





  • A bamboo lifeguard hat with big brim, great for sunny climes.


                                            Creative Headpieces


SUPER DESIGNERS DOLCE AND GABBANA are particularly creative with a large collection of  what they call fashion “headpieces” – little hats made up of things like big bows and cleverly twisted birdlike material.  The looks are truly fabulous! 


For Spring, Burberry introduces a charming straw bucket hat in a smart neutral yellow, plus several other sophisticated colors.  Marni has a very young big and little blue and white polka dot print crusher hat.






  • A wide-brimmed sinamay dress hat with squared satin crown and large satin rosette embellishment.




HOT FOR WINTER 09-10 are big fur and faux fur Russian hats, moving everywhere! Even Rock stars are getting in on the act here.  Two dramatic Cosack design hats are worn by the gorgeous lady singers that accompany major entertainer Kid Rock on his latest release. Check them out in any of many magazine ad pictures.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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 Hey…wait a minute there!   What is going on?  We have just gotten out of the big Paris couture shows for Spring into Fall 2009, filled with super-sized jewelry and immense handbags.  Then we’re into Premiere Classe, the also-big accessories fashion exposition in the City of Light                   and guess what?  We’re handed a whole new look for fashion, one that is radically different from                                         everything we’ve been living with in recent seasons. 


Now, says Premiere Classe, embellishment is out. Glitz is out. Big is out.  Ostentation is out.  Candy colors with zing and shimmer are out.  The new look is quieter, simpler, more refined, less in-your-face loud.  It’s like Boston in place of LA.  Old South in place of New South.  Well, what are we to believe?


                                                   A New Look


THE NEW LOOK, according to the latest Premiere Class show, is quieter, more sober, with emphasis more on material than on decoration.  In handbags, that translates to smooth, clean lines, dramatically less hardware, rich leathers, some exotic, some tooled, but mostly minus the “I cost a lot of money” additions we’ve gotten used to recently.  In the color arena, the peppy “pop” colors like green and blue are being bypassed in favor of more sober shades of black, brown, tan, and grey.


Darren Mason, president of Andrews store in Canada, echoed what many retailers at the show felt, that the desire now is for affordable, sober luxury.  Many talked about practicality, and the need for more reasonable price tags. Will it fly?


We don’t question the oracle stature of Premiere Classe in predicting what is uptrending in the accessories field.  Nor can we argue that traditionally, the market has moved toward more serious, less flippant and fun fashion when times, like now, have been financially difficult.  


                                     The Rebels Hang In There


–But, hey…Lanvin is showing a fantastic super-big necklace with a double layered pendant filled with multi-colored stones and hanging from a green ribbon which, in turn, hangs from a gold-tone link chain. Price tag:  $1,358.


Dolce & Gabbana is showing a necklace made up of a heavy, rich, black and white pearl strings wound around a huge cluster of golden chains and links and who knows what…with a big black stone pendant hanging off the choker while it, too, has another pendant, this a large white tear drop surrounded by crystals, hanging from it.  Some of the newest designer necklaces, practically all of them costume jewelry, are sporting price tags in 4 and 5 figures.  Wow!


Louis Vuitton is blatantly showing huge bags, and super-shiny clutches, with gold foil belts and super-multiple bracelets that are so big they circle and stand out from the wrist by a good six inches around!  Bottega Veneta, Dior, Gucci…it is all the same story.  Big designs.  Big price tags.  Bling. Bling. Bling. 


It’s hard to see any design economy here!  So, what are we to think?



                                                 Some Ideas


We point to people like Nora Brennan, owner of Nora’s accessories store in Chicago, who said she was avoiding items that looked too conservative, especially in these times. But, maybe she isn’t quite embracing the Lanvin directive, either.  We suggest:


1. Glitz and shine will continue to enliven the market, although probably on a slowly diminishing scale.  Look for smaller logos, particularly.  Expect jewelry to hold onto big sizes, especially as clothing itself scales down embellishment. Enjoy a revival of rich, aristocratic looking styles, more “polo club” looking.  Note mixes; i.e., embellished clothing with simpler accessories, or clean, tailored clothing with some shine or glam in statement accessories.  And look for costume jewelry in place of fine jewelry in many instances.  Well, even at these new prices, $2,000 is better than $20,000!


2. The new look coming in will change the market, but not overnight.  Watch for the next Paris couture shows to see the difference. Don’t consider the change only in terms of elimination.  The look coming in has a character all its own.  It is more “individualistic,” less dependent on fashion dictates “Fashion is moving more and more toward independent styles, we can see it on the street,” a Belgian accessories dealer said. “Individuation” Psychologist Carl Jung would have loved it!   . 


In the meantime, try adding these to your product mix for a really fresh look this season:

  • Frosted satin lavender necklace of gentle faux pearls interspersed with wine-colored spacers. Not too big, not too small, this piece is beautifully updated, while still expressing a Grace Kelly elegance.




  • A stunning closeout fashion ring in heavy gold electroplate featuring a gorgeous emerald cut Montana sapphire crystal. Impressive!




  • A Southwest-style silver plated cuff bracelet that separates into three bands: Intricate chain work outside borders a two-tone silver/gold plated flat band in the center. A very NOW take on the popular cuff!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, February 16th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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TUXEDO TERRIFICUSA TODAY quotes Harper’s Bazaar editor Kristina O’Neill as saying “A tuxedo is always age appropriate – whether worn with glamorous chandelier earrings or carrying a smart clutch.  Best of all, it’s sexy.”  It’s also very, very trendy, as top celebrities across the country suit-up to show off their wares in a somewhat less exhibitionistic “tuxedo” fashion.


Perhaps the trendiest aspect of the tuxedo popularity wave is the color black.  Sizzling in intensity, black (and smoke of all sorts) is giving color a real run for the money as the market looks toward late summer and early fall fashion leaders. We looked at a couple of the most recent award shows for black inspiration.  Notice that at these annual extravaganzas, the following damsels wore black, head- to- toe.  And the effect?  Fabulous, naturally! 


                                 Susan Sarandan in Hugo Boss


–At the January 11th Golden Globes awards, Susan Sarandan arrived in a tight-fitted Hugo Boss black velvet tuxedo complete with satin lapel and a thin black belt with a charming little square diamond buckle. Somehow or other, she managed to come off looking biker-chic. She also wore a long double-strand beaded necklace and bad (really bad, as in fabulous)) dark sunglasses, setting off her red locks with panache.


–On January 7th at the People’s Choice Awards, Katherine Heigl was half-tuxedo/half plain pants suit in an elegant black number by Dolce & Gabbana.  She glitzed the whole thing up with sparkly diamond chandelier earrings and even sported very formal bejeweled shoes.


                              Kristin Scott Thomas in Vintage YSL


–Kristin Scott Thomas graced the Golden Globe Awards in a stunning black vintage Yves St. Laurent tuxedo.  Bazaar editor O’Neill was enthralled with the way the actress layered gold necklaces on over the elegant outfit. Thomas also carried a quiet but lovely little black clutch.





CHAMPAGNE AND FLOWERS:  The latest collection by the inimitable fine jewelry house, Boucheron, takes inspiration from Paris’s art de vivre in its Belle Epoch period.  Bubbles of spiraling gold loops on one necklace remind of the best champagne France has to offer.  A floral necklace featuring a fantastic 25-carat Sri Lankan sapphire at its center, was more or less dedicated to the American dancer Loie Fuller, a Follies Bergere regular, who was known by the nickname, The Flower.


THIS IS THE YEAR FOR FLOWERS!  One of the hottest trends, flowers offer endless elegance and beauty to almost all jewelry.  Give your wardrobe a couture touch with these classics:

  • Wholesale brooches in antique plating with glimmering red and white crystals.  Designed in the shape of a wreath, the pin features delicate leafwork with a center top flower.  Totally enchanting!



  • Brooches of flowers and ribbons were popular in the Victorian era.  These delightful pieces echo Victorian designs with crystals adding sparkle and charm.



MORE TRENDY IMAGES:  Birds were the center of attention at the new collection of fine jewelry by New York designer Waris Ahluwalia.  Gold and silver sparkled on 6 bird varieties — including crows and eagles — featured on necklaces and earrings.



                      COCKTAIL RINGS TO KNOCK ‘EM DEAD!


RINGS AND THINGS:  You don’t have to be a millionaire to look like one.  Capitalize on today’s fabulous faux silver and gold gemstone rings, big in size but little on cost. 


Bold cocktail rings are hot, hot, hot!  Make them glitzy, make them ritzy, but make them show stoppers in size and statements. With metal plating techniques today, you can’t tell the difference between what is all gold and silver, and what is just “skin deep.”  And with today’s fantastic faux stones, well…even your jeweler won’t know for sure! 


For a Southwestern touch of evening glamour try:


MEANWHILE, AT THE UPPER-CRUSTY LEVEL of society, where any price is not too much to pay, a bevy of spectacular rings are flirting with the public for attention.  John Hardy has a strong white topaz ring on the market, not at all so Gothic and weird as his usual designs.  Maybe big, big money makes him more amenable to real beauty. This one is just that! 


Reflecting the same kind of classic elegance are:

  • Pink and clear CZ rings; and
  • Clear diamond-dazzling CZ rings.


Rings are IN.  Wear them one-at-a-time or on every finger, all at once.  It’s your choice!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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PARIS WENT ON despite the flagging global economy, and while there were traces of conservatism and a consciousness of buyer austerity in the air, there was still that incomparable French enthusiasm and passion for all things fashion.  The shoulder line and the color white were major trend players this season, as we have already indicated. But there was more, much more, to the runway shows, filling them with drama and luxury.


Metallics took center stage at many houses, with silver, gold and bronze glistening and sending light flashes across the room.  Mini skirts, some rising to altogether dangerous heights, were also prominent, fun and sexy.


Elegant wardrobe embellishments took the place of out-and-out glitz. Shine softened and soothed many outfits, keeping the glamour but minimizing in-your-face show-off.  This was a richer, more aristocratic exposition; a more serious, yes, and a more adult display of fashion. 


Here are some more of the major players and their art:


GAULTIER, GIVENCHY, AND VALENTINO:  Sharp and sometimes rigid lines, many in the shape of a deep V, characterized much of Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection for spring.  Dresses were in the spotlight, often pieced, with criss-crosses of material giving a somewhat peek-a-boo look to the fashion. 


With Gaultier, as well as Givenchy and Valentino, the spring story was one of white, white, white.  Gaultier mixed his whites up here and there with black, echoing the strong light and dark story of the season. 


Valentino added some of his well known color brilliance to this year’s story line, too, most notably in a fabulous long red backless gown. Who else cold have done this?  But then, Givenchy showed a spectacular white lilac evening dress of soft, subtle silk, for a dress up look of his own.  Matching the outfit was a multi-strand necklace of lilac-colored chain. Wow!




  • Consider a 5-row beaded chain necklace with designer side cuts for brilliant shimmer. Made in light hematite, it gives an elegant finish to any outfit.



  • Long and trendy, a 24″ snake chain in plated gold or silver has a present-moment class act appearance.  In full 33 mm thickness, it moves comfortably from day- casual to evening-dressy.


Many of the hairdos were flat to the head at all three houses, some in a short 1930s bob, others pulled hard off-the-face and twisted into very tight little top knots. Eyes were kohl black.  Earrings on one Gaultier model  were black mesh, looking a lot like hair curlers.


Throughout all of these collections, major emphasis was on the shoulder line.  It was very wide, sometimes with large shoulder pads, or with ruffled or designer-cut material.


SAAB AND VAUTHIER:  Also making news at Paris was the extension of the metallic look into more materials, and more brilliant silvery and bronze colors.  Elie Saab worked with obi sashes and short kimono jackets over knee length skirts for an East/West look.   Plenty of soft jade and lilac colors with a good deal of sparkling metallic embroidery gave the outfits a highly individual look. 


Alexandre Vauthier was strong on sexy lines and soft colors, including the season’s very popular lilac and white, with dress skirts slit up high on the thigh and necklines plunging to dangerously low levels.  Gold paint and crystals were just two of many metallic splurges making the clothes stand out.  More shoulder line action included designs that almost fly out from the shoulder, bird-like, high and cappy.



  • Enjoy a beautiful nature design with a charming crystal peacock brooch in vibrant jewel-tone color.  In 3″ size, it fits the larger-than-life new shoulder widths handsomely.




  • A world encircled by people brooch…what better way to express universal brotherhood?  With a 1 ½ – inch diameter, the globe pin comes in matte and shiny gold plating for a rich fashion accessory.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry Trends
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STRONG DESIGNS, much of it structured, brilliant color, a special emphasis on white, and an almost intellectual recognition of the role of nature in fashion were among the major themes rocking the new Paris couture shows for spring 2009. 


Dresses took primary place at most of the major design houses, although pants and pant suits were still present.  The mini skirt came on with zest, often cut way above what any reasonable woman might wear.


Military looks were center stage often enough; graphic and floral designs were integral to the glamorous statements and spectacular colors displayed at the shows. Hot pink hues were summer-oriented; Tibetan oranges were wildly vibrant, especially when mixed with greens and blues; neutrals were very sophisticated, powdery (think lilac).  Styles cut off-one-shoulder reminded of Michele Obama, as did the love affair with both ruffles and the color white, expressed everywhere.


                                                  White Paper


— A fun note:  Lagerfeld for Chanel was fantastic with white paper designed into full, ruffled skirts, big bird headdresses, even tailored skirts and jackets. Maison Martin Margiela Artisanale was equally enthralled with white paper, using it make a gorgeous tuxedo jacket which he showed over nothing more than panty hose. Is there a message here?


Shoulders were a hot feature.  Big shoulders, shoulders with padding, shoulders with major design emphasis.  Lacroix even placed a big dark blue flower cluster on one shoulder of a harem-styled outfit for spectacular effect.   


Glitz was played down.  Shine was played up.  Metallic embroideries were important.  Metallic materials and architectural shapes often expressed a space-age quality.  


–A point of interest:  Birds and feathers were a subtle but often reoccurring theme at many designer houses.  Keep it in mind.  You can even copy the idea in a fun way:



And what about other jewelry?  It came through with verve in super-big and super-long  earrings, bracelets galore (worn on both wrists and often running up the arm to the elbow), hot and creatively different looking necklaces (long and short), little clutch handbags, and big, imposing belts. 


                                               #   #   #  #


Some couture impressions:


LAGERFELD FOR CHANEL: White, white, white. Very innocent, demure. That was the major message coming from this hot couture house, with other-worldly outfits in snow white, many utilizing paper (yes, real paper!) to emphasize the idea.  Accessory action was in headdresses and hats with a totally fantastic character:  big, birdlike paper creations mimicking feathers and flight. Very creative, but will the idea fly?


The look here was mostly voluminous:  Big skirts with pieced paper and chiffon-like tiers, ruffled skirts, huge floral impressions, collars and cuffs, again in shredded white paper, done brilliantly but a bit on the fantastic side.  Also seen here:  silk pants (a la India-India tights worn by men); big shoulders (some looking like military improvisations). Tailoring was crisp, non-glitzy, often with a 70s retrospective. 













                                                  #  #  #  #


CHRISTIAN LACROIX:  Ohhh, the color!  Blindingly bright oranges, greens, pinks and reds, many with an intense Tibetan flavorBig material bows, especially on the shoulders.  More shoulder action in little dresses with large shoulder pads.  Tightly fitted chiffon evening wear, wispy.  Shortie coats with big collars, belts, and full skirts. 


Wild accessories here:  Huge silvery hoop earrings, big, big bangles worn in multiples and in hot colors, big beaded chokers that looked like charm bracelets for the neck, hats sitting on the head like colorful top buns.  Points to note:  military looks, slouchy pants, polka dots, and balloon dresses.


HOOP EARRINGS NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE!  This year, they have Paris written all over them.  Mimic the look but leave the price tag:

        jet faceted stones.





  • Long Victorian- styled earrings with occasional flash from jet stones…  Dynamite!

                                                    #  #  #  #




Avalon Vega:  Pencil thin dresses with emphasis on big shoulders. Ruffles galore.  Very nature-oriented jewelry with butterfly images, blown-glass flowers and little animal charms.

–Animals are especially in fashion this year, as the market turns to nature for creative inspiration.  Try:


Stephane Rolland: Sleek, sexy looks; demure, above the knee lengths; tailored, architectural lines.  Accessories: Big pleated bows, bejeweled cuffs, multistrand pearls.  

–The multistrand look just won’t let up!  Enjoy it best by combining several different necklaces together at once.  Like this:



                                          (Out of Paris – continued)

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

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THE MAGNIFICENT GREAT SMOKIES is a range of the Appalachian Mountains on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.  They are known for the smoke-like haze that frequently envelops them, creating extraordinary vistas, sometimes ghostlike, and reflecting light in surprising and surreal ways.


Most riveting is the light and dark interplay one often finds here, balancing mountains and valleys, time and space, in a truly remarkable manner.  Early morning, or just as dusk is falling, is when the Great Smokies take on their real grandeur, with darkness on the edge of light, soothing, caressing, mystical.


SMOKE HAS THAT KIND OF POWER. It can be beautiful.  It can be scary.  It is not quite black, not quite light.  Yet there is no compromise here.  It is what it is.  Smoke softens black. It is gentle.  In fashion, it is easy to use, easy to wear.  It calls on all the drama of black without its inherent intensity. Yet that relationship to black is always there, like water not quite boiling. 


A major player in smoky jewelry is hematite.  Right now, it is uptrending through a wash of otherwise bright colors with its own very special brand of ashen luxury and richness.  Aimed mainly at late summer and early fall, 2009, a wide variety of dark colors can be found inching their way into almost every accessory category, from handbags to jewelry to shoes. 


The smoky darkness is deep, soothing, sometimes seductive.  But, it is anything but dull or depressing.  To the contrary!  Look for darks spiced up with plenty of sparkling glitz and glamour, metallic shine and crystallized.flash.  It is a mix.  Light and dark. Shock and calm.


                                            Smoky Gemstone


IN THE JEWELRY ARENA, smoky hematite adds elegance and flash, perfect for the new glitz coming in.  The gemstone features strong light refraction without the burden of unnecessary embellishment.  Some timely choices:





  • Long, dangling steel grey hematite earrings.
  • Cube hematite beads with silver plated tiny interspersed beads.  Wow!



FITTING THE DARK but shiny look in accessories is an antique brass and crystal necklace by Philip Crangi. Very sparkly!  Also on the designer circuit: A handsomely tooled dark and light grey leather alligator belt from Dennis Basso.  For real black brilliance: a collection of black diamond Swarovski crystal jewelry mixed with an abundance of light and dark pearls and beads makes a big jewelry statement. . Like we said, “The Smokies” are coming on!


                                           Ultimate Smoky


Black, as the ultimate smoky, has always been a symbol of extreme sophistication. Last autumn, black came roaring onto the fashion runways with pit bull energy. Black suits.  Black dresses. Black gowns.  Black handbags. It made a dramatic contrast to all the color in the field.  


The idea, most designers said, was to present black as an alternative or even companion to color. But the “King of Dark” quickly assumed an independent position by itself.  This season it is picking up more steam with new designs and an urban sense of posh and power. Certainly the most intriguing black variant is “smoke.”


You can update any wardrobe with the addition of super-trendy smoky accessories.  What you need is the smoke, itself. What you don’t need is the fire; i.e., the couture price tag.  We’ve got suggestions for getting the fashion without the price:





  • Black contemporary ruched evening bags with dramatic shine finish





Symmetrical crystal brooch in crystal circular design with scrolling bronze-plated hearts



                                               Easy Mix


OF COURSE, WE CAN’T SAY the newest dark color trend is altogether new all over.  It depends on where you hail from. For example, major cities have long had a love affair with the color black for fashion.  Paris.  Milan.  New York.  As Michael Kors put it recently:

                “No matter how much color we show on the runway, it’s still a challenge                                  

                  to get people in New York out of their black.”


IN A TIME OF FINANCIAL difficulty, black is often the easiest color to sell.  Not for its negative characteristics, but for its positive ones.  Black is easy to work into almost any wardrobe. Black is intense, and always looks new. Where accessories are concerned, black and its related dark smoky colors go with almost everything. Again, take hematite jewelry for an example.  What can’t you wear it with?


Mixing black with other colors and hues is a real dynamic for fall fashion. Black and white makes a strong combo for Spring.  Black and yellow is very updated.  Black and green is young, fresh, fashionable. 


Metal goes beautifully with black, too.  Metallic flashes in black material are sexy, luxurious.  Metallic hardware on handbags is high fashion glitz. Try all of them!  As you do, think contrast.  Even contradictions.  And think The Smokies.  High ground, high fashion.  Naturally.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

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COLOR WAS A MAJOR SELLING POINT at the recent trade shows in Los Angeles, and accessories enjoyed the strongest buyer attention of any category on display.  This was not the strongest market we’ve seen in recent times, with only fair attendance, and equally sluggish ordering activity.


But accessories held on stronger than any other category, with jewelry and handbags stirring enough interest to spark a somewhat rare ray of optimism.  


LEADING THE COLOR panorama for spring and summer jewelry were bright colors.  Blues, yellows, corals, reds, and greens.  In the handbag category, major colors were tan, black, purple and brown.  Smaller bags, such as clutches, showed some strength in “pop” colors, such as bright yellow and green.  


                                                  Hot Color


You can key in on jewelry with bright color excitement.  Look for:

  • A cut glass pendant falling off a fringe of loose hanging beads in mixed shapes.  In brilliant red, green, blue and yellow.  Fabulous!





A multi-strand necklace of wood beading, reconstituted turquoise, and faux citrine.  More vivid color!


ONE EXHIBITOR NOTED that attendees were expressing a more careful buying attitude, not wanting to go overboard on items that might not be selling next year.  Consequently, while trend items remained in, super-trendy items, were out. 


“It is a matter of drawing the line at things too new, too uncertain,” another manufacturer stated.


                                                   Gold Heats Up


AN INTERESTING POINT on the “what’s selling, what’s not” platform: Gold is getting very hot, with rose gold especially popular.  The apparent idea:  People see gold as an investment, and that is giving it strong market impetus. 



At the same time, pricing was a strong selling point, perhaps the major one, at this west coast bazaar. “People come to our booth saying I want X price point,” noted one handbag resource. 


                                                Price Crunch


Major manufacturers, across the board, felt the price crunch, many dropping their top wholesale prices to appeal to the tight market consciousness.  $200 was more or less the price ceiling on clutch handbags, with many selling at $90 to $180. 


Still, accessories held the spotlight at most of the trade shows here, with one resource pointing out that “little add-ons” tend to be more resilient in a recession market.  He noted that consumers are looking for inexpensive ways to spruce up their existing wardrobes and accessories fit the bill. Another source concurred, enthusiastically saying that,

                       “It’s a great opportunity for accessories.”


COCKTAIL RINGS WERE ONE of the big numbers at the LA markets, especially real-looking pieces with large stones and plenty of flash.  Long, long necklaces wearable in multiples were also big. Swarovski crystals were about as hot as this market could get. 


If you like to wear different rings with different costumes, these rings are for you:

  • CZ with large center stone surrounded by a rich collection of smaller stones in silver tone;




  • Silver plated nugget ring





  • Murano style glass rings in a variety of colors.


Multipurpose bags saw a considerable amount of buyer interest, along with totes, satchels and clutch bags.  Here, again, the interest was somewhat conservative, with medium sizes outweighing all others. 


The big material was microfiber, no doubt because of its inexpensive advantage at the medium price point level.  Also important were metallic embellishments, such as copper and silver.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, February 6th, 2009

Filed under Hats
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January 20th was a day of days!  Not only did Barack Obama take the oath of office as America’s first black president, but America’s Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, thrilled the Inaugural audiences and international air waves with a magnificent rendition of My Country ‘Tis of Thee


What no one could have figured, however, was the immense popularity that one fashion item worn by Miss Franklin that day would garner: The item was her hat! And oh, what a hat it was! 


 “It’s a media and cyberspace sensation,” gushed Bill McGraw of the Detroit Free Press.  


The heather-grey wool felt hat was embellished with Swarovski crystals and featured a big-stand up bow. It was more than noticeable; it was impressive.  You might say it had presence. And didn’t the country know it!


The Idea is A Hat!  You can modify the Franklin sensation with your own taste and come up with an equally individualistic look for yourself. Consider:





  • A jaunty grey fedora or soft wool dressy cloche (just add a bow for extra Franklin-zip);






                                            Sales Sensation


Minutes after Franklin finished singing, the phone started ringing at Mr. Song Millinery in Detroit, where Franklin bought the chapeau for $179.  Hundreds were sold in the ensuing twenty four hours. And the demand continues…


“People are calling from as far away as England asking for the hat,” Mr. Song said. 


The hats Song is now offering customers are slightly different from the customized hat Franklin wore, but they are no less charming. Apparently, Song’s hats are all very special. The milliner has been selling to Franklin for years, and says he sees hats as an art form.  “For me,” he declares, “hats define culture.”


Franklin has reportedly had museum requests for the hat as well.  But she isn’t sure she wants to hand it over.  After all, this is a major piece of memorabilia and she helped make it so.  As Song concludes, the hat “has taken on a life of its own.” 








A SPECTACULAR COLLECTION of diamonds and evening gowns was shown off at the recent Screen Actors Awards, worn by some of the most dazzling actresses on the Hollywood scene.  The stage was ablaze with deep saturated color as award-winners literally danced across it with one dress more fabulous than the other. But nothing quite compared to the flash and sparkle of diamonds, diamonds, diamonds!   


Freida Pinto (The Slumdog Millionaire) wore a Marchesa full-skirted smoky blue dress with a long, loose back chiffon-like panel. Adding light and passion were gorgeous diamond accessories: a stunning diamond bracelet and handsome dangling diamond earrings.


Kate Winslet (The Reader) wore what she called “an amazing color,” a Narcisco Rodriguez gown in deep purple-blue. Reflecting brilliant color all around were double strand hanging diamond earrings and a delicate diamond bracelet, all by Chopard.  Romanoff-level chic!


YOU CAN GET THE LOOK WITHOUT THE COST.  Look for CZs that defy identification as anything less than diamond royalty!





Lavish CZ necklace set features opulent design with Hollywood showtime brilliance.


                                       Gemstone Bag


A brilliant emerald green off-one-shoulder dress by Emanuel Ungaro was worn by Christina Applegate (Samantha Who).  She was gorgeously dressed with a long, below-the-waist chain necklace, a narrow diamond bracelet, and big but delicate hoop earrings embedded with single stones. The charming actress, recovering from breast cancer, also carried a green gemstone-decorated clutch bag.  Wow!


Holly Hunter (Saving Grace) wore a wildly hot pink strapless dress by Reen Acra and accessorized it with class, and then some.  The super-slim blond beauty wore gorgeous diamond pendant earrings and – hear this! – a 10.80 carat diamond ring.  The jewelry was by Fred Leighton, the well-known California jeweler who always “knocks you dead” with marvelous designs. 


Viola Davis (Doubt) wore the happiest color of the night, a sun-bright off-one-shoulder yellow creation by David Meister. Her jewelry included a wide yellow beaded bracelet and a yellow-gold ring. She carried a small gemstone-encrusted clutch.                      


YOU CAN GET THE LOOK WITHOUT THE COST.  Add the magnificence of real crystal to your next shopping list. For immediate attention, look at:


                                     Obama Inspired


With all this color you might think everyone forgot white.  They didn’t.  Picking up where Michele Obama left off, Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) turned out in a dazzling white column gown by Azzaro.  The dress featured a wide bejeweled waistline that may have been a belt, who knows? 


Hathaway also wore a heavy crystal encrusted necklace at the neckline of the dress; it, too, may have been costume embellishment rather than free-standing jewelry. One thing we know for sure was jewelry: a lovely slim diamond or crystal bracelet.  Glitzy as it may sound, the outfit came off as quietly dramatic.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, February 5th, 2009