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Archive for March, 2009...

Filed under Dress Hats
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In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade….   — Irving Berlin


THE TRADITIONAL EASTER PARADE is not what it used to be, but traces of it still remain in major cities around the country.  The Easter Parade, as we know it, probably started in New York sometime in the late 19th century, when Easter signaled the beginning of Spring, with warming days and budding flowers filling everything with a young and  thrilling atmosphere. The delight of the Parade affected everyone, and soon it became an annual event in towns and villages throughout the country.


Families would literally dress up for Easter, putting on new finery and proudly heading off to church where they would simultaneously pray and posture.  It was always great fun, and the key to it all was the Easter Bonnet.  Ladies and little girls all wore new bonnets, festooned with flowers, as they paraded around the church environs. 


The really BIG Easter Parade, of course, was in New York City.  It started as an Easter Day stroll by Fifth Avenue churchgoers and continued to grow until it ran down Fifth Avenue from 57th to 49th Streets.  The Easter Parade’s important focus in New York was always on St. Thomas’ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  While almost anyone could (and did) participate in the Easter Parade, it was for many years mainly focused on the city’s wealthy and socially elite.   




  • A ladies dress hat with shimmer.  In a variety of colors, this elegant hat is made for attention-getting!




  • Ladies church hat with high crown almost shouts out Easter Halleluiahs!  This is a wonderful dress chapeau!




  • Ladies wholesale sinamay hat with big bows and luxurious satin leaf shapes.  Stunning!


                                         Mystery and Excitement


THERE WAS OFTEN GREAT MYSTERY and excitement surrounding what one’s Easter Bonnet” (later referred to as an “Easter Hat”) looked like.  Many girls and ladies hid them away from the sight of friends until Easter morning, when they would come out with a great flourish.  As time passed, hats often got bigger and bigger.  More flowers were put on the hats.  Television cameras came out to record the spectacular variety of Easter Bonnets, and show them off to the world. 


As might be expected, hi-jinks accompanied the Parade’s popularity.  Commercialism snuck in, as women wore hats from particular milliners just for the cameras to see. Outrageous outfits began showing up n the Avenue, diluting its elitist manner.  Hairdressers attempted to compete with the Easter Bonnet popularity, bringing models with often weirdly colored hair to walk along the famous Fifth Avenue mile and hopefully gain them a moment of fame. Little by little, the parade lost its focus and began to run down.


But that’s not to say the Easter Parade is over!  Ladies still choose a special hat for Easter church services and, if anything, the Parade itself has mushroomed out, as communities around the country witness a flourish of feminine “dress-up” as part of the joyful rites of spring.


                                        The Creative Bonnet


AN INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT in recent years has been the habit of buying a basic hat and then decorating it with all manner of silk and real flowers, sequins, crystals, scarves, and other embellishments, making the modern “Easter Bonnet” a highly creative and individualistic work of art.



  • A super-wide brim ladies hat with black grosgrain trim.  This is a real find that you can wear “as is” or decorate with a choice of spring flowers and bows.




  • Pink, white, and lavender: This charming child’s hat comes in a choice of colors for Easter and is decorated with a tiny ribbon and shell to make her feel like a grown-up! 
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Filed under Sunglasses
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Is there anything more intriguing than the development of eyeglasses as they rode a high wave of need and popularity throughout civilized history?


“Eyewear is still an important entry price point in fashion, that’s why the category is holding well….” – Pierce Fay, Luxottica Wholesale, North America


                                            Some History


SPECTACLES HAVE A CLOUDY HISTORY and probably date back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, or even Chinese, who used them as amulets to ward off evil spirits. There are indications that stones were used for magnification very early on, but nobody knows who came up with the idea first, or how such stones were actually used.  On the other hand, we have actual proof that spectacles were in use by the 14th Century, because paintings by Tomasso de Modena at that time focused on monks wearing eyeglasses while reading and writing.


America’s super-inventor, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals sometime in the 17th Century, to offset the annoyance of having to change his glasses constantly for distance and magnification.  Modern glasses with rigid sidebars placed over the ears were developed by an optician back in the 18th Century as well.


Monacles were developed in Germany in the 1700s and stayed in use until after WWII, when their association with the Nazi Third Reich destroyed their popularity.  Lorgnettes, glasses held on a handle, were de rigueur during the 19th Century with ladies of high birth in England.  Pince-Nez spectacles, which just pinched the nose, also came on the scene in the 19th Century, along with an early version of present-day contact lenses.


                                    Idiosyncrasies of Fashion


TODAY, GLASSES ARE NOT JUST “MODERN,” they are trendy pieces susceptible to all the change and idiosyncrasies of fashion. Squared off glasses in many different styles are particularly hot at the moment and give their wearers an edgy, attitudinal look.  Prada’s acetate and metal glasses sport heavy frames and very dark lenses. 


Colored frames are also high on the trendy list for glasses. While dark shades predominate, “pop” colors are also hot, like green, orange, and purple-pink.  Leading couturier glasses in the hot color line include Chloe, Vera Wang, and Marc Jacobs.





  • New generation sunglasses, oversized and under-budget.  Hot Mediterranean flair!


                                        A Look to Kill For


IT’S FASCINATING TO SEE the different attitudes toward glasses during all this time. In both England and France, weak eyesight was considered a stigma; consequently, glasses were rarely worn in public for many years. In America, the popular idea that “men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses” prevailed even into the early 20th Century. At the same time, the Spanish saw things differently, regarding glasses as a sign of refinement and aristocratic birth. 


The real rage for glasses came into being in the 20th Century, when Hollywood discovered sunglasses. Yes, they had real optical purpose in protecting the eyes and making vision in the sun so much more comfortable.  But, hey! The real kicker behind sunglasses was undeniably that this was (and is) a look to kill for!

 —From the time they were first introduced, sunglasses have been a high mark of fashion.  

And, interestingly, sunglass popularity has spilled over into regular seeing glasses as well, dramatically upping their sales to men as well as women.



  • Designer level sunglasses in hot aviator shape.  Intense.



  • Rimless glasses with rectangular shaped lenses in a choice of lens colors. Wow!


Today, dark lenses, light lenses, colored lenses, metal frames, plastic frames, frameless, dressy-looking, sporty-looking, plain or embellished:  Glasses are hot! Designs for glasses are almost endless.  Demand is much the same way. Everybody wears them.  But who has only one pair?  Please…

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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FORGET ABOUT CHIC. Forget about hip.  The way to look now is NERDY…ah, yes!  To be really IN, you have to be OUT.  Way OUT in dork land where being unpopular, and socially dopey-looking is the thing. 


To be a Nerd is to be everything one would realistically expect no one to want to be…until now.  Because now, the fashionably retarded, verbally reticent, and physically awkward are coming into their own.  Think of America Ferrera from Ugly Betty.  Now that’s a terrific Nerd!  Think of Sarah Jessica Parker from Square Pegs.  Or think about Clark Kent of Superman fame. All Nerds, big time!


                                          Number One Nerd


NOT THAT THE NERD MYSTIQUE is totally incomprehensible from a “wanna-be” point of view.  After all, Bill Gates of Microsoft could well be considered the world’s Number One Nerd, and he has also been the world’s Number One money man, too.  It’s just that you wouldn’t expect kids to want to be a Nerd. You’d think they’d rather be sharp looking.  Sophisticated looking. Sexy looking. Not always so. 


But being a Nerd has its benefits. A Nerdy guy can come on to a girl without her having a clue. A Nerdy girl can often get high grades just because it’s what the teacher would expect from looking at her.  Computer geeks are probably the ultimate Nerds, along with people who bring up such thrilling subjects as quantum physics over dinner.  Not on the same planet!    






  • Crystal filigree brooch with border of star shapes. Very vintage, very space-y.  (It’s also stunning, but don’t mention that!)


                                      Marc Jacobs, Ex-Nerd


BEING A NERD is essentially the same as being a Geek. Either way, the concept isn’t without contradictions. French designer Miucci Prada gave it a real boost with her conservative, intellectual fashions back in the Nineties, but by now, she’s moved a thousand light years away, into the up-tempo fashion of the status conscious. Designer Marc Jacobs used to be Nerdy, too, but he’s also moved into the fast lane.  


And status…well, that’s one thing Geek and Nerd are not in any way about. Some people, aching for the Nerd look carefully avoid all status symbols, entirely, from fashionably labeled to clothes and accessories that are too sharp or edgy. But things could be changing.


Nowadays many people think “Nerdy” and “Creative” are one and the same thing. Even more consider being Nerdy “a cool thing.”  As one designer pointed out, “There’s something strangely eternally youthful about the style.’






  • Lucite bracelets in bright colors. Marvelously young, this is how to be sharp and Nerdy at the same time!


                                         American Nerd


OF COURSE, THE MOST IMPORTANT accessories for Nerds are eyeglasses.  Clear eyeglasses, not sunglasses, mind you. Glasses with heavy dark frames.  Round glasses. Square glasses, provided they aren’t hot. Librarian looks, yes. Or schoolmarm looks. Adding a little squint helps, too. No logos on this eyewear, please! No shine or diamond enhancement. Hey, do you want to kill the whole thing?  As we said, eyeglasses are the quintessential nerd accessory, but you have to get it right.     


You really have to be an American to be a real Nerd.  It just doesn’t work elsewhere. .The Brits give the idea of Nerd a bit of an edge and that kills the whole idea.  The French make Nerds look sharp. Another freeze out.


Of course, it’s not just what you wear.  It is how you wear it, preferably with something less than self confidence. Nerds like wearing pants that are little too big, skirts that are a little too long (but not long enough to be Bohemian).  Achieving an academic aura puts you one-up on the Nerd high list, although George Bush was surprisingly Nerdy without it.


You can also pull off the Nerd appearance with things like vintage jewelry, old-fashioned Bulova watches from the 40s, traditional oxfords with white socks, suspenders, and braces.  









  • American donkey earrings.  Forget about campaigns; these are great anytime!


OH YES AND, generally speaking, to be an authentic Nerd, you have to be a brunette. Blondes and redheads have too much in-born glitz about them. And they used to have more fun.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Filed under Bridal Jewelry
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“Love appears to be untouched by the credit crunch,” says Guy Leymarie, CEO of De Beers, the diamond jewelry firm.  Like other firms fighting the downturn in luxury buying, De Beers is focusing in on the bridal market, particularly in the United States.  This is a traditional market, and it is a dependable one, jewelers contend.


There are 2.3 million marriages in the US each year, and approximately 1.9 million engagement rings are sold.  According to the American Wedding Survey, the average price of an engagement ring is $4,435.


TIFFANY IS LAUNCHING a new engagement ring collection this May, called the Tiffany Bezet.  It is a grouping of modern rings with a heart, pear, radiant-round, or princess-cut diamond set in platinum. It is simple, with no further decoration, the firm says. People will buy a diamond ring when they won’t buy other luxuries, jewelers assert.  They see diamonds as an investment.





De Beers is also introducing a new diamond collection with a low starting price of just $1,450.  The idea is to make marriage more economical. Called the Forever Ring Collection, the De Beers rings will be branded and recorded in the firm’s diamond registry.


De Beers’ marketing program emphasizes variety.  “A very wide selection ensures we have something for everyone,” Leymarie says.  Apparently the idea works well.  The company had a 50% increase in sales over the past 12 months.  Not bad!       






MAVERICK JEWELRY DESIGNER Tom Binns opened a new store last month on New York’s off-beat Perry Street, in the heart of Greenwich Village.  The shop, a tight 300 square feet, is clean and minimal with white walls and countertops that Binns says act as a blank canvas for showing off his works.

—-“It’s like wearing a plain white or black dress – one piece of jewelry really pops!”  he says. “You feel good when you are minimally dressed and the jewelry is very grand.  It makes you feel empowered.”



  • Clear and iridescent crystal spider brooch is gorgeously realistic with its amber stones and silver and gold plating.

  • A grand brooch featuring a green heart-shaped simulated stone crowned with lacey silver-plated filigree work and sparkling crystals.


Over 30 collections of Binns’ jewelry are on display in the new store.  Prices run from $180 to $25,000.  Apparently, retailers like Binns’ cutting edge designs and his big, colorful fun fashion.  Some call him the father of the layered look, the “more-is-more” jewelry idea that so many younger customers have bought into.  He also appeals to a wide segment of the population, including Amy Winehouse and Michele Obama.  


Some of Binns’ most successful designs have included identification tags shouting out four letter words. Other designs are “an irreverent play on the classics,” as Henri Bendel’s fashion director puts it. But this is no lightweight designer.  Among other things, the Fashion Directors of America named him Accessory Designer of the year in 2006.






SHE’S CUTE, SHE’S SASSY, and she has a thing for wide cuff bracelets, big cocktail rings and long, long necklaces with plenty of hang-off pendants.  At just 17, Australia’s sensational Gabriella Cilmi is also a singing spectacular. 


The performer/song writer calls her music “pop-blues, glam-rock,” and already has a runaway hit in Australia and Europe in her up-tempo single, “Sweet About Me.” Cilmi’s album, “Lessons to be Learned,” includes the hot single, and was launched in the United States last week.




Last year, the teenage wonder literally swept Australia’s Grammys. Cilmi is known to be flamboyant on stage, where, she says, “you like to make more of an impact.”  Off-duty, she is more low-key. Still, she says, “Even if I am wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I’ll just chuck a load of jewelry on, like a thousand rings.  You can’t have too much bling.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Filed under Fashion Trends
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PERHAPS THE MOST NOTABLE FEATURE of the New York Fall showings was the silhouette, the main silhouette, that is. . It was wild.  Different.  Listen to this:  the silhouette starts with the head, which is big, big, big.  Sometimes the size is accomplished with big hair. Mostly the hair is teased up and back, then smoothed over into a big ball.  It is very offbeat and at the same time severe.  At other times, the big head silhouette is achieved with hats.  

   —Big hats of all sorts, often quite startling, like Diane von Furstenberg’s pompom chapeau.


Then, the look drops to the upper body, which again is big — big shoulders, with shoulder pads or design tricks to create a big look.  Large jackets add more volume.  Layering is strong here, with heavy sweaters and shawls and wraps.  Little capes and fur designs fill in the style as well.


The lower body is generally skinny – skinny tights and tight fitting slacks or straight lined skirts.  The legs are covered, frequently with highly patterned stockings or leggings, but also tight to the body.  So, here you have a small look, for balance.


But we’re not done yet.  Then comes “de feet.”  Wow!  Shoes that lace up and strap up and overlap and interlap over incredibly high heels designed in myriad offbeat ways.  Shoes are so hot! But there is more: new ideas for feet, like big wooly shoes in the Big Foot manner, like super-heavy après-ski boots. This, again, is a big look.  BIG.


And that’s it, folks!  Big, big, small, big.  Crazy sounding, but often quite spectacular!




  • Crystal chandelier earrings in pink or clear crystal balance the big hair or hat look.  Crystal is mounted on silver-tone open work.  There is also a fringe of metal drops below.  Very elegant!





  • Iridescent faceted beading separates jet black round glass beads to form 2 rows in this stunning necklace.


                            Trench Coat Show Stopper


LUIGGAGE-LIKE HANDBAGS were handsome, leathery, and cut back in size for the season.  Sleek, expensive-looking leather boots gave an air of sophistication to everything. Patterns were hot. So were tweeds.


Tommy Hilfiger showed very traditional sportswear like little swingy jackets and tight turtlenecks, a few wide-legged pants and white silk dresses.  The show-stopper here:  Great looking trench coats!


Mini skirts just won’t give up.  They were often delightful and shown with high heels and socks. These were rarely cute, however, and often very sexy. 


Important necklaces were bibs, beaded and black.  Earrings were long and swingy.  Headbands were often beaded, creative.  Chain necklaces were everywhere, often with pendants.


Gray was a very hot color.  It moved over from fashion into makeup, with smoky eyes and silver gray makeup tricks.  Nails were done in deep gray (as well as black), while sparkling gray eyeliners brought eyes into prominence.


                                      Brooding Look


RICH, OPULENT MATERIALS were exciting.  Many were done in dark grays and black, affecting an almost brooding look.  This might be depressing, except for the shine, the glitter of it all.  Pieces of shiny material hung down from jackets and arms, also sometimes deathly-looking.  But it was always pulled out of the darkness by something bright, light reflecting. 





  • CZ necklace sparkles like the best of diamonds.  3 small CZs form a vertical line dropping off a metallic chain. A real diamond look! 




  • Polished gemstone chips with cubed beads in quartz crystal.  Appreciate the dynamic translucence of this knock-out bracelet.


Biker chic kept showing up in amazingly attractive renditions.  This is a look that is constantly evolving, the same and yet different. Gothic pulls from it nonstop.


Overall, these collections were optimistic.  The fashions were rich, materials were shimmery, necklaces were big, and there was plenty of humor and lightness to play with.  Silver was big, especially silvery materials. Other materials were abundant with pattern and embellishment.  Often, materials were crisscrossed over the bosom, or draped, or ruched, or something.  Rarely were they just “there.”   


At the same time, though it sounds contradictory, clean lines did prevail. Long straight coats were marvelously chic.  Long straight dresses were imposing.  Off-one-shoulder looks (a la Michele Obama’s dress for the Inauguration) were frequently seen.  In this regard, the fashions tended to be very Greco-Roman in inspiration.  Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein did the look especially well in a little black dress with laser-cut detailing. 


                                   Exceptional Accessories


MANY OF THE ACCESSORIES were exceptional.  Tribal looks were spotlighted in many collections, such as fabulous jewelry pieces from Lela Rose.  Other pieces had a Romanoff extravagance, like a gemstone bib from Reem Acra.  Big disc earrings were often wild.  And then, there were feathered cuffs.  Ruffled skirts.  Oh…the variety of it all!


Beads gave depth and timelessness to the collections.  Donna Karan, for example, showed a big multistrand beaded necklace over a dark turtle neck sweater. Fabulous!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Trends
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NEW YORK’S MASSIVE FASHION EXPOSITION for Fall 2009 was wonderful!  It was womanly, refined, sophisticated, and dramatic.  In many ways it was serious, yet there was enough lightheartedness to offset any gloom. It was very black, but a sizzling black, a WOW! black. And there was color, here and there; pops of brights, too, even neon.  It was classic, and yet very 2009.  Overall, it was a show that underwrote the fact that New York – or shall we say, America – is second to no one (and often first) in fashion.


There were myriad stories at this exposition, enough for just about any taste. There was Bostonian snotty and guttersnipe sexy, some Gothic, plenty of tribal, 80s color-blocking, 20s fringe, and futuristic, metallic flash and shine. The blacks were often red hot, the whites often icy cold.  Fur was a major standout.  It was almost always spectacular, showy, exquisitely designed, but sadly unapologetic for the innocent lives it takes.


                                             Standout Accessories


ACCESSORIES WERE QUIETER than usual, but nonetheless standouts.  Hats were terribly important, big, unique.  Caps and fedoras were holdovers from former seasons, still looking fresh and fun.  Kerchiefs were more like material works of art, sometimes starched and standing out like old Gallic French styles.  Headbands and headpieces dotted the runways with fascinating originality.




  • Wholesale fedora with innovative design.  In herringbone with black under brim.







                                                Little Belts


HANDBAGS WERE BIG, sometimes huge, and small.  Clutches were hot.  Totes remain in.  Jewelry was special, pieces that looked one-of-a-kind.  Chokers were very important. Belts were everywhere, mostly thin little leather belts with simple buckles, but … don’t stop there!  Big, boisterous belts with big boisterous buckles are still around!


Leather was – and is — the material for 2009.  Shiny materials were extremely important.  Fabric emphasis gave everything a different look.  Patterns upon patterns sizzled. Layering ruled the outfit mystique:  blouses with vests with sweaters with jackets with coats…on and on!


And, despite the global economic doldrums, New York offered up little that was restrained. If anything, there was a something of everything, sometimes a little overwhelming.

    — But…let’s get on the fast fashion track for a quickie look at many of the Show’s highlights:


Oscar de la Renta presented an extravagant fall collection strong on black and ladylike accessories, from long black leather gloves to medium sized quiet leather handle bags.  Adding richness:  a gorgeous fur necklet.  The designer also showed a classic checkered coat, riveting purple-red slacks, and numerous outfits in fabulous light gray.  Here and there, a skinny gold belt flashed through.  




  • Crocheted sequin purse in vibrant multicolors or solid against black.






  • Sequin shoulder purse.  This is a gorgeous knit bag embellished with rows of large sequins so terribly popular this year. Dynamite!




                                            Lime Green


MICHAEL KORS OFFERED a lovely suit with a thin silver belt, accessorized further with fingerless wool gloves and a handsome little clutch bag.  He also showed a fuzzy lime green coat with color-matched under dress. The texture was new, but the color has been trendy for a while, giving the outfit a familiar look. Still, look for this color.  It’s very hot right now!


Calvin Klein was also big on lime green, showing a summery dress with uneven hemline in the popular color.  Of course, black was the big color for Klein, and understandably so.  Who does black better?  This master craftsman was also big on structured, tailored, refined looks, all with an architectural feel.  Sleek.


Vera Wang followed Klein in the black mode, with a long black dress over a black jacket, with black choker and multiple black hanging pendants.  She also showed big black beaded earrings with the outfit.


Narcisco Rodriguiez showed a handsome, very tailored gray slacks suit with long coat.  A stunner!


Marchess was big on ruffles, with frilly dress-up outfits, including a feathered short dress with big ribbon bow.


J. Mendel showed a great looking white fur vest.


                                          Skinny Black Tights


MAX AZRIA BROUGHT a casual outfit with black skinny tights and a draped yellow-green over-blouse to the runways. Those skinny black tights were basic to his collection, which was heavy in Gothic, black, well done.


Like Marchess, Philip Lim was deeply into ruffles. He showed fluttery dresses and tuxedo jackets, among other styles.


Diane von Furstenberg’s collection was nothing short of spectacular.  She used layering extensively, and plenty of high textured materials like thick woolens and plush velvets.  The designer also played with scattered traces of metallic spots on materials, along with lots of handsome graphics. She showed lots of mini skirts, hot leggings, color-blocked handbags, and high, strapped shoes.  A standout in her collection was a big pompom hat in varying shades of purple, gray and black.  Wow!  Another show stopper from this designer:  A flashy big cat suit in meow colors black and orange yellow.


                                       More Black


DKNY was traditional and exquisite with a brown gray sheath dress with black belt, black long gloves, and a big black fur necklet.







This was a show replete with texture, pattern, and textile effects. Sequins were everywhere.  Black offered major drama.  Pleats were like ruffles and draping:  important!


Marc by Marc Jacobs was a trip back to the Eighties.  The designer showed bright colors here and there, and was big on color-blocking.  These were very grown up looks!


Alberta Ferretti joined the ’09 designer parade toward fur, fur, fur! 


Isaac Mizrahi was entertaining with a handbag hat that was totally absurd but fun.  The designer was also into bright colors, especially oranges.  Stripes were almost a passion.  Overall, his looks were well tailored, very polished.



To Be Continued….

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

Filed under Bracelets
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I ONCE KNEW a beautiful young woman named Shallah who was born in the Middle East and who had a remarkable sense of style and elegance.  I knew her for a long time before she confided in me that not only was she born in Iran (she preferred to say she was “Persian”) but her great grandfather had been the second to last Shah of Iran.

      –Naturally, I didn’t believe a word of it.


But then, CBS TV News came along and did an hour-long documentary on her father, who published a dissident political newspaper out of Switzerland, opposed to both the last Shah (who had deposed her grandfather) and the Ayatollah.  For that service, he was awarded the Number One spot on the Ayatollah’s Most Wanted List. Basically, America loved him.


Shallah’s father had 10 or more children and was remarkably generous to them all.  One Christmas season, the girls all received full-length mink coats.  The following year, he gave them all Jaguars. Somewhere along the line, I was just too overwhelmed to question any of this.


                                          An Ethnic Thing


ANYWAY, THE REASON I bring Shallah up is that she had a spectacular signature style that was distinctly individual. Among other things, she wore bracelets.  Lots of bracelets.  Running from the wrist to the elbow, on both arms. That, mind you, was at a time when no one wore more than one bracelet, on one arm, and nothing on the other.


I figured it was an ethnic thing. But it was also terribly impressive. Not only did the bracelets look fabulous, but each had a history and story all its own. They were all more than jewelry to her; they were prized possessions, worn night and day


Shallah’s bracelets were all bangles of one sort or another, some wider, some thinner, but most in the same size category.  They were all metal, some engraved, some tooled. And they all looked spectacular on this real Middle Eastern princess, with her long silky black hair, dark golden skin, and super-skinny body.









                                       The Hot New Bracelet Mix


NOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN, Shallah’s personal style – with all of its mystical Middle Eastern panache — is making news throughout the fashion world.  Bracelets are hotter than hot.  And if one is big, several dozen are bigger.  Pile them on.  Wear them with impunity. Twenty bracelets on each arm are not too many.  No matter how you wear them, they look great. 


ADOPTING THE NEW BRACELET MIX TAKES A BIT OF PERSONAL WILDNESS. But beyond that, it is easy.  You see, almost anything you do with bracelets will look good, even though some looks are more “designer-y” than others.  Try mixing a big bangle bracelet with a wide cuff for some hot double-duty fashion.  Or, put on a tight cuff, some loose bangles, and another tight cuff for a three-way zinger.  Terrific!


Couturier Alexander Wang uses bracelets with class.  His newest runway look: wide, industrial-styled bracelets in silver, silver pave, and a hematite-like metal, along with half a dozen or so loose dark bangles. Dynamite!



  • A wide basket weave cuff features textured metal openwork in gold or silver plate. 


                                     It’s All in the Mix


MIXING BRACELET MATERIALS also makes for an intriguing new bracelet-arm look.  For example, two wide silver or gold plate cuffs worn with a fabric bangle. Or, you might want to play with styles, combining a single bangle bracelet with a more ornate cuff. 

Yet another idea:  Play the cuff game.  Combine several wide cuff bracelets on one arm.


One of the most impressive bracelet arm structures involves color.  The mix:  plain metal-plate bangles with enameled bracelets in varying colors.  On days when you’re feeling less experimental, stay to the colorful mix alone, putting on many of the same bangles, in different colors, yet all together.







  • Lucite bangles in bright colors of orange, green and yellow





  • Enameled bracelets with geometric pattern
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, March 13th, 2009

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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SEXY OR NOT SEXY?   That is the question!  Whether the “new modesty” call wafting over the teen fashion scene will actually take hold has yet to be seen, but that it is beginning to be taken seriously…well, that is for certain!


A recent copy of USA Today newspaper suggests that the economic downturn may be responsible for pulling necklines up and bringing more modest clothes to teens and tweens.  Even flashy Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, the paper says, has declared “bling is over.”  In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, Lagerfeld said the “new economy is prompting a new modesty.”  Hmmmm.  What’s it all about?


                                    Less Risk Taking


FOR ONE THING, people are spending less money.  And when they do spend, they want things that are less trendy (translation:  sexy) and that can be used for many different occasions, USA Today opines. “People want to be more comfortable and more covered,” says Meredith Barnett, CEO of the retail website StoreAdore.com.  “You’re not seeing nearly as much risk taking.”


The new modesty trend is also forcing a shift in the way retailers do business.  Suddenly, they must realize that “skin” is not always in. That, of course, is the way most adults see it.  But what about teens and tweens?  What about looking “hot,” “hip,” and “with it?”  Doesn’t that take lowwww cut jeans, high cut minis; lowwwww cut blouses and plenty of cut-outs and see throughs?  The kind of apparel stores like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Apparel have successfully pushed to the limit?                



  • Water-wonderful silver plated link choker with fringe of colorful beading and painted sealife of fish, shells, and seahorses.  Spectacular!





  • A necklace of electric colors to attract any young suitor.  Wow!  This is blinding with its brilliant, multi-colored discs of varying sizes.





  • A fab neck combining a candy stripe twist choker with an irregular disc pendant in bright red with silver pieces. Real fun!



                                        Gutter Fashion


MANY INDUSTRY OBSERVERS SAY the big problem is that we have fallen so far into “gutter fashion” it is hard to get back up.  Young girls like the attention they get from looking “available.” And, if that’s not enough, stores and manufacturers are constantly pushing the “hooker” ideal. 


For example: Robert Cavalli and Dior ads are replete with super short dresses and skirts with sexually suggestive show-off half-bare backsides.  Paul Gautier promotes an ad with a guy and gal in a sex position with his hand on her bare breast – he’s dressed, she’s almost fully undressed. And True Religion wouldn’t exist without ads for its itsy bitsy shortie short denim cutoff jeans that are low cut, high cut, almost not there. These ads would have been scandalous just a few years ago.  Today, they are close to ho-hum.


                                 Jewelry versus Cleavage


A&F FEATURES A STORE shopping bag with a near-naked man on it.  Mattel has developed a Bling Bling Barbie, who looks disturbingly like a street prostitute.  Many visitors to one local A&F store are greeted by a photograph of a young man with his pants unzippered.


And all this advertising backs up and supports “questionable” clothing, the kind more and more moms are reacting against. The kind groups like Pure Fashion and the evangelical tween group Secret Keeper Girl are trying to erase from runway shows and teen advertising. 


It’s a tough uphill fight, mainly because kids still find all this bizarre sexual pandering thrilling. To store management, it is even more. USA Today points out that A&F store records show sex does sell. Modest fashion?  Well, what do you think?


                                          Perfect Flirtation


THE GOOD NEWS, however, is that if you’re not going to show cleavage, how about jewelry?  Think it can’t compete? Think again.  Jewelry can “modestly” suggest.  It can

literally vibrate with energy – think about fabulous native pieces, or lavish Italian gemstone designs.  It can excite with intense color and intrigue.  And, best of all, it can turn an otherwise quiet outfit into something wild, unrestrained, and even “bad,” in teen terminology. 

   –All, without offending moralists or corrupting the young. 


Try adding jewelry like this to your wardrobe, or that of your clients: 

  • Elongated inlay earrings with exotic Zuni look. These earrings feature precision cuts of dyed shell with raised silver plated bezels. Primitive!



  • – Brilliant concentric oval hoop earrings direct the eye to a pretty face or flashing eyes. Perfect flirtation!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Filed under Evening Bags
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LANA MARKS IS A NAME YOU SHOULD KNOW.  She is a top-scale handbag couturier whose spectacularly glamorous designs have given a touch of elegance and pizzazz to practically every notable woman on the global scene for some years now.


Everybody who is anybody – from Elizabeth Taylor to the late Princess Diana – has carried a Lana Marks bag for special occasions. Saudi princesses adore her.  And, Hollywood just wouldn’t be the same without her!  


Now…it’s not too likely you’ll buy anything Lana Marks has created, but her designs will (and do) affect the look and feel (and “product ambiance,” if you will) of just about every other evening bag sold. So, if you are into evening bags, she is already an important person to you!


COLOR IS THE KEYNOTE of a Lana Marks bag.  These are fabulous, saturated colors:  reds, blues, purples, and sizzling blacks.  The lines are sculptural.  The materials are rich, often shiny, dramatic.  Think satin, ostrich, crocodile and alligator. Then add on diamonds or pearls or other glorious gemstones for decoration.  You can’t get too luxe!


                                             Rather Costly


And the prices?  Eeeeeks!  How about almost $9,000 for one alligator beauty?  Or, $17,900 for a fuchsia tote?

              –Well, now you know why we said you’re not likely to buy one of these spectacular creations. BUT



  • Elegant evening clutch in black crepe satin with gold lurex or silver lurex with silver tone hardware.  This stunning 4 X 10 bag glimmers when it moves and is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn glamour.


  • Embroidered lattice work on a satin backdrop with matching glass beading for subtle shimmer on a luxurious clutch bag.


                                        Palm Beach Posh


Lana Marks is headquartered on posh Worth Avenue in Florida’s Palm Beach.  She also has stores on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, and Madison Avenue in New York, as well as in Dubai, London, Moscow, and Hong Kong. Not bad for a lady who calls her company “small” and refers to herself as “little me in Palm Beach.” 


But…to get back to the bags. Perhaps her most renowned creations are clutches, often highly structured, rectangular, and about twice as long as they are wide.  Her custom made clutches are part of her Cleopatra collection, she explains.

             “Each one is a separate and quite daunting challenge.” 


                                      Cleopatra Clutches


A FABULOUS CLEOPATRA clutch designed by Marks for Julie Christie featured rich red silk shantung with silvery hardware and exquisite ruby/sapphire/diamond trim. A fantastic budget conscious alternative:


Marks designed a gorgeous Art Deco-inspired Cleopatra clutch for 2009 Oscar-winner Kate Winslet.  The silvery clutch encompassed two large diamonds on the flap, boosting its value to…oh! $100,000!  Our version is also gorgeous, and costs no place near that price:

  • Satin evening purse with crystal flower blossom across the top and two large crystals on one end.  Stunning!


A CLEAN-LOOKING CLEOPATRA clutch designed for Jennifer Aniston featured a structured gold frame in shiny black crocodile. This gives the same look:



                                           A Royal Knockout


For Helen Mirren, acclaimed lead actress in The Queen, Marks designed a beautiful white satiny bag with thin diamond encrusted flap.  The bag design was inspired by the royal tiaras in Queen Elizabeth II’s collection. Here is an equally “royal” design:

  • Rows of rhinestones and faux pearls border the flap and embellish the center of this classy evening clutch with scalloped envelope flap.


From queens to starlettes to social aristocrats, Lana Marks has designed bags for them all.  But the amazing thing here is that you can actually have inspirations of the style and mode of these bags at such remarkably affordable prices! 

   — A “Queen for a Day?”  With these bags, you can be Queenly, forever!

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

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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ITALIAN FINE JEWELRY MAKERS have a way of staying optimistic even in rough times.  Business was anything but brisk at the latest Vicenzaoro Exposition in Vicenza, Italy, but as designer Marco Bicego put it, “It’s time to keep true to your point of view, to stay creative.” His contention:

                               Jewelry is meant to evoke emotion.


“Fine jewelry has substance in its materials and precious stones,” added Fabio Macchitella, advertising manager for Leo Pizza, quoting what many other fine jewelry makers are saying that this is the time to emphasize jewelry as investment buying


An executive at Calgaro’s agreed, saying he wants to continue to make jewelry in the traditional artisan fashion.  “Gold is the only thing that is holding value.”


Right now, gold is pushing $1,000 an ounce, adding to the high-status impact of gold jewelry








                                            Russia and Dubai     


Designer Roberto Coin, whose U.S. popularity star has been rising dramatically despite the economy, is keeping his eye on recovery.  “Even Russia and Dubai are having some problems,” he said.  “But the world will move on from this.” 

                           America has a beautiful way of coming back.


MANUFACTURERS ARE DEALING with the economy by moving more strongly into semi-precious stones, especially quartz and tourmaline.  They are also cutting back on the thickness of gold.













                                             Luxury Touches


Yellow gold is growing in popularity once again.  Textured gold surfaces, in place of shine, are big. Many manufacturers are moving more strongly into silver, some dotted with diamonds or semi-precious stones for a touch of luxury without the exorbitant price. 


                                         Asymmetrical Circles


Hollow, unevenly shaped gold rings with a thin layer of gold featured hammered or satin finishes at Calgaro. Small sprinkles of diamonds glittered from many Calgaro rings.  Chain bracelets featured asymmetrical circles. Necklaces featured irregular laser-cut citrons.


Overall, rings were important at this major fine jewelry show. Large cocktail rings featuring brown, white and champagne diamonds were standouts at Roberto Coin. The designer also offered very exciting diamond-encrusted bracelets in floral designs, saying:                

                            Women look good with one dramatic piece.


                                                       #   #   #   #










FINE JEWELRY SALES didn’t fare very well at the latest JA NY Winter Show, either. Many would-be buyers were cautious, noting that they still had inventory from the holidays on hand. Still, there were a number of directives worth noting for both fine and costume jewelry makers and buyers.


Charm bracelets were important, along with small gold charms. Architectural pieces in gold with strongly colored gemstones, such as tourmalines, led a directive toward interesting semi-precious gemstones. 


Even though gold is still the number one choice for fine jewelry sales, silver was big and obviously growing in importance. Among the notable items here were silver discs with engravings and initial necklaces.


“People are really into personal expression jewelry,” said Dana Merrick of Dana David of Middletown, New Jersey.


                                        Two-Metal Effects


SEEN AT MARGARET ELLIS at the Fragments booth was some very attractive hand-forged silver items with touches of gold giving them a rich, two-metal effect. The “silver with touches of gold” theme was repeated many times over by different manufacturers and is really something to pay attention to. The mix is an effective way of producing good looking jewelry designs with high apparent value but without a very high price tag. 







  • Metal cuff bracelets with repeating spiral circles in mixed metal design of silver/gold plate.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, March 7th, 2009