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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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