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Archive for November, 2009...

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Late one summer when I was a girl, we had new neighbors move in next door to us.  I didn’t especially like them.  They kept their house dark and you never did know what was going on in there.  Even the kids were strange. 11-year old year Jerry rarely played ball with the other boys, and always had his nose stuck in a book. 


Charry was 9, and admittedly gorgeous with her long blond hair and bright blue eyes.  But she dressed atrociously, we thought, with layers of crinolines, big skirted silk and satin dresses with bows and ribbons and embroideries. – And this when the rest of us dressed in precursors of Gap Kids, at best. As you can tell, these new people just didn’t fit it.


Mostly we all ignored them, and months went by. Soon it was Christmas.  My parents were a little conservative about that.  We put up the tree and other decorations on Christmas Eve and took them all down January 2nd, without compromise. Keep them up an extra day?  Never!  But our newest neighbors seemed to have time schedule all their own. To start with, days went past Christmas, without any noticeable decorations or lights. Still dark.








                                                       Eastern Rite


But then, just before January 6th – “Little Christmas,” we later learned, the Orthodox Rite Christmas – a miracle happened.  A real miracle!  Just like that, the house was ablaze with lights like you never saw.  And what was most incredible was the tree.  Oh!  That huge, blazing, fabulous Christmas Tree! 


Just when everyone’s trees were down or coming down, their’s went up, and it was more glorious than any I had ever seen.  It was so fantastic all us kids peeked into the front windows just to get a look it, soaring up the top of the ceiling, with all manner of decoration on it.  Different kinds of decorations, such as we had never seen before.


The mother came out and even invited us to see the tree, which sat in its own big vat of water and was cared for daily.  There we saw generations of ornaments lovingly brought to the United States from Russia, carrying with them all the memories and history of their family and land. 


Here were little delicate ornaments with openings you could look into and see a whole village story unfold! Tiny dolls dressed much like Charry with carefully ironed bows and flowers and dresses.  Things you wouldn’t expect to see on a tree back then. Tiny toys with all kinds of moving parts. Jewelry with beads that dripped over the pine leaves and gave even more color and delight.  Well, the splendor went on and on. You could spend weeks, maybe months, and still not fully experience it all.


And perhaps that was the idea.  Because the Eastern Christmas came and went, but the Tree remained.  January came and went, and the Tree remained.  Other neighbors became concerned.  Some called it a fire hazard. Others used it to remind everyone how weird these people were.


                                                     A Forever Tree


February set it with all its ice and snow and blustery weather, and the Tree remained.  But by now, it had become a curiosity.  School kids would come into our neighborhood to sing Christmas Carols in front of the house, totally freaking out my brother. Somebody reminded that “For everything there is time,” and the time of the Tree was up. But, it wasn’t.


February ended and March began. It was still cold, but cold enough for a Christmas Tree? Week One came and went, but the Tree remained.  Week Two did the same.  But then…just as mid-March settled in tightly, the lights went out.  The Tree, in all its glory, finally came down.  The ornaments were all hand-wrapped and put away for another day.  Pine needles were carefully swept out.  And the house was silent, dark once more.









“Well, it’s about time,” my mother said, as my brother sighed relief. Kids stopped coming around harassing. Christmas was at last past. And you’d think, by then, you’d be glad. But I wasn’t.  I wasn’t glad at all. Not only that, but I seemed to develop a whole new respect toward these new people. I mean, image!  People who pay no attention to what other people say, and just keep up their Christmas Tree as long as they want.  Well, it could have gone on forever.


But of course, it didn’t.  It has been years since we’ve seen that family, but we still exchange Christmas Cards with Charry, who lives in California.  I suspect her present day Tree comes down in very neat conventional time frame, like ours.  Nice trees.


   —But oh! I don’t think I will ever forget that Christmas Tree that stood almost forever years ago.  Being different, I learned, can be a wonderful thing!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, November 30th, 2009

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VALUE.   That seems to be the buying demand of consumers as we move into the big Christmas 2009 season.  Practicality and thrift are the over-riding considerations as buyers make their way into the sales arena, planning on picking up special gifts for family and friends. 


According to Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor, women will be decidedly prudent about what and how they buy this holiday season.”  Sensible gifts are high on the agenda, things like gift cards, toys, and apparel.  Fashion Accessories rack up high popularity figures, too, as they are easy to purchase, don’t require sizing, and can inject a touch of luxury, often at a reasonable price.









                                            Control Factor



Value added was of strategic importance in the minds of many prospective customers.  For example, many women said that investing in apparel that is practical but still has special details that set it apart makes them feel like they are getting value for money well spent. 

   –Casual designs were also put high on that practicality list, like handbags that have special compartments for carrying different items, or jewelry that has interchangeable pendants or that can be worn in several different ways.  More for less: that’s the call.


                                              Smaller Items


“I think women are going to go for the affordable fashion item,” said Michelle Madhok, an internet fashion editor. “Smaller items are also big this year, like fingerless gloves, infinity cotton scarves, and anything faux fur, like trapper hats.”


Women are also looking to get more for their dollar.  A remarkable 96 percent of females polled said they will be looking for sales this year.  That’s a really high number!  What’s also a big number, and even more disturbing, is that 64 percent of the polled women said they will be spending less money on gifts this year. A lot will be going the internet route, buying on line despite the added cost of shipping. That will make retailers’ work a little more difficult, as they run to get a bigger share of buyers’ diminishing gift-purchase budgets.


                                                  Steps To Take


What steps can you take to increase your income this Christmas?  Industry sources say, first and foremost: 

  • Give and emphasize personal service. Don’t just let customers buy or leave the store.  Help them choose good gifts.  Be a consultant. 
  • Offer a well-chosen collection of gifts at different price points.  Keep your choices somewhat below price.  Remember that “sales” element women talked about wanting!
  • Go for practicality with added value.  A touch of glitz to an otherwise practical design is great! 








                                             The Power of Gift Cards


SOME OF THE Lifestyle Monitor’s survey figures are really interesting and can be extremely helpful to fashion accessory retailers.  For example, two in three females said they would prefer a gift card over an actual gift.  Women like the idea of being able to buy what they personally want, instead of accepting the tastes and decisions of another.  They increasingly appreciate being able to control their own lives, in all of many ways, large and small.



This is a good point for retailers to keep in mind.  Gift cards give control to the receiver.  They are easy to make up (you can do it on you computer!) and make for a quick sale.  Just be sure to give each one a number and back it up with sales information to use when it is brought into your store.  Put up a sign in the store showing that you have gift cards available, and put some effort into selling them.


It is usually easier to sell a card for anything in your store than to sell a particular item!  But remember: Gift Cards should be for purchase only, not for refund!  Idea:  If you are unsure of how to design and write up a Gift Card, just pick up an inexpensive one at your local department store and copy the layout.


WHICH BRINGS US TO AN IMPORTANT PLACE IN HOLIDAY PLANNING. A few hours taken out to visit your premium stores can pay off big this time of year.  The majors usually get their Christmas decorations up early, so now is the time to get out with a pad and pen to jot down some of the creative things they’ve done that you especially like. Ask yourself: What good looking decorations can you duplicate in your store?  A Christmas Tree decorated with jewelry?  A Tropical Christmas theme? A Rock ‘n Roll Holiday?  This is a wonderful season.  Enjoy it!  Help your customers enjoy it, too. After all, everybody wants to be happy. 

   –And you know what?  Happy customers usually buy! 

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, November 28th, 2009

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We used to think luxury goods were immune to recessions.  Not any more!  While pockets of sales activity have recently enlivened the luxury sector, there are still major areas of sales trouble for the category. On one hand, some sections of luxury jewelry have been hit hard by the recession. But, at the same time, these same sectors have been remarkably resilient, quick to react to any bright spots in their sales patterns. 

In 2009, the lower end of luxury goods slumped badly, overall, while sales of the high to highest priced, limited-availability pieces improved. That has really helped boost otherwise bleak earnings.  Companies like Harry Winston, Tiffany’s, Chopard, and even De Beers are dealing with shifts in consumer attitudes and buying patterns to which they’ve had to adjust.   And adjust they have!

Jewelers have always stressed the emotional aspect of purchases, linking sales to personal milestones like engagements, marriages, birthdays, and celebrations of all sorts.   But look what’s happened!  The American consumer has abruptly switched from being a spender to a saver, thanks to the many economic woes of this recession.  So:

   Emotion plays a lesser role in purchases today as customers carefully consider the jeweler’s piece as an investment.  Is it truly worth the asking price?  Will it have lasting value?  Will it appreciate in value? 

This means that the luxury sector has to look at how it is selling its goods and, in many instances, restructure its entire marketing strategy. This is not just limited to luxury items.  Look at traditional patterns and you’ll see that as luxury jewelry goes, so goes jewelry in general. Sure, there are factors that differ between high and low end. But overall, a serious marketing change in one part of the industry will affect all parts of the industry.  Almost guaranteed.


                                       What’s It Worth?

Now, how do you figure out the present and future dollar value of a jewel?  Well, for gold, you simply check Wall Street’s Gold index on TV, the internet, or published in daily newspapers.  (As I write this, gold’s current price is $1,095 per ounce.  It has soared in value over the course of 2009, and gold “bugs” predict its price will go to $2,000 an ounce in 2010.)

   –Do you happen to have gold jewelry you aren’t wearing, and don’t think you will ever be interested in?  Now might be the time to sell! 

Up until recently, figuring the value of a diamond has traditionally been a more complicated story.  But now, people in the trade can simply check The Rapaport Price List.  This is a publication (subscription) that describes itself as “the industry’s primary source of diamond price and market information.  This list is the international standard used to establish prices in all the major markets.”  Bet you didn’t know that!

Like gold, large quality diamonds and other precious gems have been steadily going up in value.  Having

quick and reliable sales data tends to exaggerate whatever direction prices go as jewelers can easily track the latest sales.  That direction has been decidedly UP.



                                         Why Should We Care?

Well, many important trends start at the top and flow down pretty quickly these days to affordable retail levels.  For example, right now deep-pocket customers are seeking large stones, often choosing white or yellow diamonds.  The new motive for many buyers may be profit, because they believe these stones will significantly increase in value over the next few years. The immediate effect, however, is that they are boosting sales and setting a trend for Big, Beautiful Gems as the ultimate choice of buyers.  Large CZs, set in heavy gold or silver plate, mimic top-of-line gems and are taking on added sales power. Chunky gold plated bracelets have the look of Rodeo Drive elegance and are likewise on a fast sales track.



Upper clear crystal balances colorful lower emerald cut crystal




  • Sparkling Chrysanthemum Crystal Brooch – Lots of glitter!        

 3-D Filigree flower, layered petals set in antique silver plate



Most jewelers are not happy to see their fine wares viewed as commodities.  They think it’s crass. They think there is a lot more to jewelry than the weight of the gold or the size of the gemstone.  Those are just the basic materials. Jewelers understandably feel that they are selling art and creativity — extolling the craft, romance, and heirloom appeal of their pricey and artful designs. 

But, as always, the customer is king, and if the customer insists on bottom-line valuation and objective analysis of future appreciation, then that has to be a major part of the sale.  (There remain a number of “purist” jewelers, such as Chanel, whose design director’s wry comment on the current trend is “A stone is more than a commodity.  We are selling the creativity of the product.”)




                             IS THERE A LESSON FOR ALL OF US HERE?


You bet!  No one needs to be told to keep track of sales categories and buy more of what the customer wants to buy. If the government is right, and the recession is beginning to lighten up, there should be some subtle sales movement that you’ll want to cater to. Watch what your customer is buying now; you could get a glimpse of some important purchase changes shaping up for the year ahead!






Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, November 27th, 2009

Filed under Gemstone Jewelry
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TURQUOISE DATES BACK TO ANCIENT EGYPT and is prized by many cultures throughout the world.  The Aztecs in Mexico forbade any mere mortal to wear it, and restricted turquoise to the Gods, using it in religious rituals and masks.  In the Near East, turquoise was believed to protect against the “evil eye,” and provide a barrier against the powers of darkness.  


Linked to the constellations Sagittarius, Pisces and Scorpio, turquoise is believed to possess many mystical powers:  To wear it means you will experience good fortune, success, friendship and true love.  It’s rumored to ease the mind and heal the body. 


    –But the most stunning attribute of this exquisite stone—or stones, as they come in a variety of shades and mineral makeup—is the color, which ranges from clear sky blue to blue-green (turquoise) to heavily green-blue.  In Persia (Iran) and throughout the Middle East, clear robin’s egg blue, vein-free turquoise is prized; but in the American southwest, native craftsmen traditionally choose electric blue and other shades of turquoise with silver matrix, or subtle tracings of light orange or rust or brown and gold matrix.    


                                               Magical Powers


Turquoise wasn’t brought to Europe until the time of the crusades, and the word turquoise (French) means “Turkish,” as Europeans believed it came from the Turks.

This opaque stone has been esteemed by many cultures, over thousands of years, and, for colored stone enthusiasts, turquoise is on par with, say, the jades of the Orient.

What a marvelous gift, a stone of remarkable beauty infused with life-enhancing magical powers!  Who wouldn’t want that?







  • Chunky turquoise cross necklace – classic and trendy!





                                     Native Americans


VIBRANT COLOR DOMINATES the fashion scene now, and turquoise places naturally in the palette and dimensions of jewelry today.  Many cultures have their own styling for turquoise bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings:  here in the U.S., the Zuni, Navajo and Hopi tribes each developed their own distinctive craft style. 


   –We’re so used to seeing turquoise set in silver that we take it for granted, but it was the American Navajo tribe that became famous for turquoise/silver pairing in their jewelry creations.  The Navajos set this as the standard for all Native American turquoise handicraft, and it continues to this day.  And, as American Indian men embraced turquoise jewelry from pre-settler times, outfitting themselves handsomely with silver/turquoise belt buckles, rings, bracelets, necklaces and more, the history of turquoise for the U.S. is truly uni-sex.


Nothing is more flexible than turquoise in a social context.  The same cabochon necklace looks as dazzling on a long strapless evening dress as with jazzy skinny jeans or a demure 9-5 business ensemble.  True versatility!




                                     Ways to Improve Perfection                 



NATURAL TURQUOISE is the choice of fine jewelers, but even the finest grade turquoise is often waxed and oiled, as the stone is comparatively soft (registers between 5 and 7 on Mohs scale) and the stone can be compromised by exposure to light or heat or bodily oils.

In everyday use, over the years, untreated natural turquoise can fade, even discolor. 

For this reason, turquoise can be dyed and infused with resins (this is called “stabilized” turquoise.)  The result is a much harder, hardier stone that will keep its true color and any finish.  When enhanced, such treatment is hard to detect, even by experts.   


Reconstituted  turquoise is for costume jewelry, and is made from pulverized turquoise chips mixed with chalk blended with dyes and resin.  Today much turquoise is reconstituted in China to service the global market (accounts for 80% of U.S. turquoise costume jewelry.)   This technique creates an attractive, inexpensive product that incorporates lesser grades of turquoise and compensates for the fact that many turquoise mines around the world have been played out. 


Only a few mines in the U.S. continue production, such as the legendary Nevada Blue Mine.  Because of its popularity and the fact that it is becoming more and more of a rare commodity, all grades of turquoise are sure to increase in cost and intrinsic value in the coming years. 


Basic Care:  Minimal care will ensure long life and unchanging appearance.  Turquoise jewelry should be dipped in warm, soapy water, rinsed and quickly dried with a soft cloth.  Commercial jewelry cleaners should never be used on this stone…too harsh!  Don’t expose turquoise to too much light or heat (no sunbathing); you want to protect that gorgeous color! 


Get rich turquoise fashion at recession-savvy prices.  Fantastic!


                        created by nature



                        Epoxy simulates turquoise – silver plate setting

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

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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A major restructuring of one of the world’s most prestigious fashion accessory brands is underway and, with it, many exciting new ideas are being introduced or revitalized in the industry.  The exclusive, very British Asprey brand is being refashioned back to its original selectivity. 


Many products are being removed, and others are being upgraded.  The market reach is also being cut back from where it has recently been, as the newest owner – John Rigas of Sciens Capital Management — seeks to service only the world’s wealthiest and most demanding clientele. 


This might seem a questionable time to go after such a high end market, just when global economic problems are reaching all levels of society, but that apparently hasn’t affected Asprey. Even with the termination of many peripheral product categories, Asprey’s sales have remained consistent for the last three years under Rigas’ tutorage and jewelry sales have actually jumped up 20 percent in the same time period.  Rigas, it seems, is doing something very right, indeed.




Rigas talks enthusiastically about refocusing the brand.  “Luxury today has to be something refined, exclusive, and innovative,” he contends, underwriting the belief that for retail really to succeed in today’s market, it has to know who it is and where it is going. 


Rigas bought Asprey from Lawrence Stroll, Silas Chou, and Edgar Bronfman, Jr,, who had expanded the brand, and opened store after store in what one industry publication calls “one of luxury’s most dramatic tales of a revival gone wrong.”  Now, all of that is changing.


The enlivened Asprey’s products have been cut back to jewelry, small leather goods, and bridal wear. As Rigas sees it, the bridal business is “very brisk.”  Of course, Asprey’s engagement and wedding rings are anything but modestly priced, starting as they do at about $3,000 and soaring up from there.  The average range for jewelry in general is $5,000 to $25,000. 

   —How this relates to the costume/fashion accessories field isn’t too hard to grasp, however.  Trends start at the top. If it is hot at Cartier (or Asprey) today, it will almost certainly bubble up to prominence at more affordable product levels tomorrow.


                                    Maharajah Necklaces


Asprey also sells magnificent colored diamonds and other precious stones.  After all, Rigas says, this is where royal families world wide purchase handmade crowns, coronets, and scepters. The company also sells such one-of-a-kind pieces as a 90-carat sapphire necklace and 18th century emerald-and-pearl necklaces once worn by maharajas. 

   –Oh, yes, as you can see, this is really exclusivity at its highest!







Riga has also rehired many of the top leather and metal craftsmen who worked for Asprey before the takeover by Stroll and Chou.  Among other things, the firm is rolling out a redesigned collection of handbags in slim crocodile as well as a rich grouping of silver-embellished satin clutches and sleek leather day bags, all with a new 1781 logo.


Rigas says he plans to increase the firm’s business by 50 percent in the next two years.  He has already reduced corporate costs by 60 percent.  The new frugality is apparently key to high-moneyed success! 


Many of the shop-in-shop and travel related retail operations around the world have even been closed, at a time when other emporiums are just beginning to branch out into these venues.  But Rigas calls those operations “business models of the past.” 


Asprey presently operates a new Bond Street store in London and a classy 6,000 square foot store on Madison Avenue.  It also has stores in Saint Moritz, Beverly Hills, and Miami.  Shop-in-shops continue in Japan as well as franchises in Dubai.






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

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NOTHING QUITE EQUALS THE POWER OF TV shows and movies for moving accessories off retail shelves and into the homes of celebrity-awed consumers.  With advertising money tight, the cost of interesting the entertainment media in using a particular product often looks downright frugal.  And the results? They can be impressive. 


Take Rebecca Minkoff’s Studded Rocker bag.  It was worn by “The Hills” star Lauren Conrad in May.  The next day, 300 of the bags were picked up by Minkoff’s top accounts. This isn’t the first time Minkoff has tracked a TV show/product sales connection. Apparently Lauren wearing anything generates major sales. 

   –“It’s weird how much consumers are tied to that show,” Minkoff says. 


But, it’s not the only hot program heating up accessories sales action.  Minkoff’s Morning After clutch enjoyed a significant sales spike after being featured in a “Gossip Girl” episode.  Then, there is the story about Minkoff’s market bag style.  She was on the verge of discontinuing it when Samantha Jones popped up wearing it on an episode of “Sex and the City.”  Sales rocketed up, and Minkoff’s discontinuation plans went out the window. 


And then, there is the wildly successful tale of Avelle (formerly known as Bagborroworsteal.com.).  It seems that new membership in the internet club tripled in the year following the release of Sex and the City movie.  In the film, Louise (played by Jennifer Hudson) borrows a Louis Vuitton bag from the site.

   —Its effect on the trendy bag was dramatic, as the site’s membership zoomed skyward from 250,000 to over a million.






  • Large embroidered cheerleader tote bag.


                                             Tally Up Your Benefit



HOW CAN YOU BENEFIT FROM ALL THIS?  Pay attention to what is being shown on the big TV programs and in major film releases.  What are the characters wearing?  It will impact styles.  What jewelry and handbags are the lead actresses wearing?  That, too, will show up on sales receipts.  The more an accessory is featured, the hotter it gets, and the bigger the sales impact.



You might also check out celebrity publications where many super stars can be seen wearing statement pieces of jewelry that are on a fast upward trend. 

   –A recent issue of Star, for example, showed Medium star Patricia Arquette wearing a gorgeous, chunky, medium length turquoise necklace. Very hot!

   –Tiny blue pearl beads in a multi-strand choker gave Spanish actress Elsa Pataky a classy, finished look. 

   –And celebrity Anna Faris showed off a stunning Michael Kors red and black striped dress with multiple and diverse gold and silver bracelets plus rings on several fingers, too.  Don’t miss the fashion implications here!



                                   Blogger Benefit!


The benefit of being seen on shows and movies involves more than immediate sales, marketers agree.  Also important is the longer term exposure which keeps the product moving beyond the initial media attention.  For example, there is the residual sales benefit from getting a product talked about by bloggers after it has been seen in a film.  Or seeing the product show up on Facebook after exposure on TV. .  When you get this combination of media exposure, you can be sure you’ve got a winner on your hands! 


Of course, if a character or star lacks a “certain fashion cache,” you don’t benefit from her wearing your goods.  Jewelry designer Alex Bitar remembers when one of the stars of the wacky movie “White Chicks” wore a piece of his jewelry.  Oh, no! 


“I remember thinking, ‘I hope my buyers aren’t watching this,’” he says. 


The problem is that there is just no control over who will wear what when.  You can only hope.  If the accessory is worn in a high fashion environment by a celebrity people want to emulate, you’re not just safe.  You’ve made it!  If not, well, hope for the best….


Nancy Gonzalez of Santiago Gonzalez contends that it is all about context. “Seen in the right way, however, celebrity exposure is a dramatic sales stimulator.  Celebrity is especially important to the international customer,” Gonzalez adds, “to buyers in Korea, Japan, and Russia.” 

   –Hey, the sales rub-off isn’t so bad in the good old USA, either!






Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

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Big, black, beautiful:  New Sunglasses have a sexy Cannes mystique to them as they give men and women alike a rich, dolce vita appearance.  This is sophistication at its best.  No matter what you look like, put on a pair of the newest shades and you’ll walk out looking better. Look at John Galliano’s Icon Collection of sunglasses, including his sexy “Les Bitches” wrap shade with temples designed after the honeycomb fans used by flamenco dancers: they take over an outfit but, at the same time, give the whole appearance real class.


ANIMAL PRINTS are marking their territory all over the accessories field.  Colette Malouf”s goose and pheasant feather hair comb is a real knockout, especially for gals with longer hair.  Leopard prints are also hot on shoes, handbags, and anywhere else designers can think to put them.  Pairing up with leopard for a real jungle melee are zebra and tiger skin patterns, used on bracelets, handbags, and you name it.  These are all very assertive prints, just as the animals they take after.  Add them to an accessory and the product really takes off!


MOVING THROUGH THE JUNGLE and even into swampy territories, we come across the really hot sizzlers of the fashion accessories industry now:  Snakeskin.  Is there anything that hasn’t been enlivened by the incredible iridescent colors of these often-silent but deadly predators?  Snakeskin is phenomenally popular.  Lelya’s water snake bag is just one example of the shimmering beauty of products made with this material. Also think about snakeskin-tooled smooth leathers.  Equal beauty!

   —And, don’t miss Adriana Castro’s python and horn clutch which is a real winner.  But this kind of snake isn’t always a good thing to play around with.  Just a couple of years ago, there were no pythons in the Florida Everglades.  Today, in what is like a snap of the fingers in global change time, there are an estimated 100,000 of them, living right up against residential areas.  Eeeeeks.








                                      Clustered Stones


Combining metals and gemstones in a rich, heavy cluster often makes for wildly beautiful bracelets, necklaces or earrings.  This goes a long way beyond simple mixed metals!  Think about Emily & Ashley’s semiprecious stone, glass, crystal, silk and organza necklace.  Done in the colors of autumn, this necklace features big bunches of floral-like gems wrapped in and around each other for a really dynamic, rich look.

SHIMMER AND SHINE make their way through the new accessories field as well.  Think about light reflecting gold and silver mesh handbags – especially clutch bags –fabulous satiny scarves with India-Indian-like gold threads shot through them, gemstone-brilliant crystals adhered to materials to make parts stand out with glitz and appeal.  Look for workmanship on top of workmanship.  Shine with more shine.  Nothing is simple, it seems.  With the exception of a fringe minimalist movement, a major part of the fashion world is right now very ornate and expensive looking!


Belts are IN and getting more popular on a daily basis!  Most of these trendy gorgeous cinchers are done in leather and have hot embellishments on them, such as studs and metal design features.  Buckles are often not quite as large as they have been in the past, but they are prominent:  jewel-like buckles and closures that stand out like pieces of jewelry, themselves. 

     Woven leather and metal are both big in belts right now.  Gold metal belts are very popular!  Antiqued appearances are a growing directional.  Fendi offers a great looking leather belt with turquoise and silver buckle.  Rey Augousti has a stunning green-grey python belt with gold and snakeskin buckle on the market.  Most of the belts are thin, skinny pieces, yet lavish in their own right.


                                                Flea Market Fashion


Leave it to New York City, home of the status-minded, to come up with a Second Avenoo-like lifestyle that would thrill Diva Streisand to the core!  As part of the trendy look:  very worn-in boots (can you imagine?) big, beat-up leather totes, and denim that looks like it won’t make it to the corner. A Vintage America Collection from Nine West leads this new “homeless” fashion expression, splattering pieces of it all over the neighborhood. 









SKINNY LITTLE CORDS in soft material or super-flexible metal, mostly in black, are going great guns in many different parts of the fashion field.  See them especially in Goth outfits, but keep an open mind!  They are showing up even in classic design expressions.           

The idea is to wrap a black cord around the wrist several times (or at least, make it look like that) and then hang one or two tiny stones off it for finish. Another idea involves tying dark cord onto the wrist.  Or dropping thin slivers of cording from around the neck, adding on a few gemstones for pizzazz.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, November 16th, 2009

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ON NOVEMBER 26TH of this year, millions of Americans will gather around the family table to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, just as they have done every year since the Pilgrims joined with the Native Americans in a feast of the harvest.  This is a time for remembrance of good times and blessed gifts.  Children learn the story of Thanksgiving in school, while friends and relatives raise their voices in yet one more rendition of “We Gather Together….”  This is a good time.


To some, Thanksgiving Day is a spiritual celebration, to others a secular one.  In any case, it has the singular advantage of being the only “prayerful” holiday celebrated in this country by all Americans at the same time.  There is no split-up based on which religion you are or were or sometimes purport to be.  There is just America experiencing gratitude. 

   –It reminds of something Meister Eckhart, the 14th century mystic, once said to a man who wasn’t very religious, but who was asking his advice. “If all you ever say is ‘thank you,’” he said, “it would suffice.”







  • Rugged cross pendant in silver and gold plate.



                                                  A Little History


AND SO, WE SAY “THANK YOU,” just as we have done for a very long time.  But, when did it all really start?  Well, there is some controversy over that.  The “pilgrim” dinner of 1621 is perhaps the most famous beginning, but most historians say that feast had little in common with our present Thanksgiving Day. Surprised?  We were, too.


Many contend that the first real Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. It seems that French Calvinists landed in Florida the year before, in1564, having left Europe hoping to escape the bloody sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants.  Their feast was a true thanksgiving for a new home and country.


On an official level, however, Thanksgiving in the United States began with President Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863.  And despite changes and evolutions and ball games and parades and big turkey dinners, it has stayed pretty much the same all through the years.  











                          Here Comes the Big Parade


ONE OF THE MOST DELIGHTFUL national events on this day-of-days is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This year marks its 83rd proud march through midtown Manhattan, as it carves out a slightly new route along 7th Avenue to 34th Street, site of Macy’s famed flagship store. 


The extraordinary parade is filled with balloons, floats, bands, and singing and dancing stars from a bevy of Broadway shows.  It is a fantastic exhibition, and people flood into New York from all over the world to personally view it.  More than 44 million people watch the 3-hour event on television each year. 


Here comes Ronald McDonald.  Mr. Potato Head.  Sponge Bob Square Pants.  And dozens and dozens more. Felix the Cat was the first balloon to enter the big parade, back in 1927.  In 1934, Mickey Mouse came on the scene.


                                 Visitor from the North Pole!


There is one over-riding parade event that thrills the body and soul and brings us all back to childhood again.  That is the arrival, at the very end of the parade, of SANTA CLAUS!  Oh…has there ever been a more magnificent Santa?  Has he ever had a more glamorous red outfit, a more fabulous big white beard, a merrier, jellier belly? 


Santa is back again and with all of this, the Christmas Season, 2009, begins.  How wonderful that, with all our present day problems, we still choose to start it with gratitude.  With Thanksgiving!   


   –Happy Day, everybody!

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

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CELEBRITY CHECK: Looking sexy and spectacular in vibrant red-red, Elizabeth Moss joins her Mad Men’s co-star Jon Hamm on the 1960s elegant set of the award winning TV show. Elizabeth, who will soon tie the knot with SNL comedian Fred Armisen, is also resplendent with long gold chandelier earrings and wide gold bracelets. For his part, Hamm is comfortable relaxing on the set’s wooden lounger in his edgy aviators.


   —Britney Spears is out and about in a cute little red and white striped sundress, a little gold necklace with small gold ball pendant, and a dynamite pair of very dark sunglasses with red rims.  Wow!  Does she look good!


   –Are those little clutch handbags holding their own on popularity charts?  You better believe it.  How about pretty Kayla Ewell who plays the naughty bad girl in the new hit, The Vampire Diaries.  She may pop pills and act slutty on-stage, but showing off on California streets this delightful vixen dresses adorably in a yellow print mini-skirted dress and hangs on to a really adorable gold metallic clutch bag with silver hardware.  Ewell also shows off a stunning diamond ring worn on the index finger of her right hand.  Hey, we’re seeing more and more of that…







  • Murano style glass rings with brilliant color and design.


SCHOOL BELLS RING: Few things pull in customers like a red hot promotion, and what better promotion than featuring a couple of big name personalities to host a shopping event to benefit your own local school system?  That’s something the Dior boutique on 57th Street in Manhattan knows a lot about!  During a recent 2-hour charity event headlining Caroline Kennedy and Wendi Murdock, the store racked up sales of almost $70,000, 15% of which went directly to the Fund for Public Schools. The biggest sale of the day was a $25,000 fur coat. 



RUSSIAN REPLAY: It’s not that long ago that the western world ran a non-stop ridicule of all things supposedly Russian:  fat-women, fashion-less wardrobes, drab personalities.  So what has happened?  Suddenly the ladies from Mother Russia are gorgeous beyond measure, their clothing is often design-spectacular and their jewelry, well … this is the land of the Romanoff’s, after all.  Proving out the new world view of Russian taste, is Podium Jewelry, an exclusive Moscow retail concept that is now moving into Paris with all its glitter and glam. 


The company (which already operates a classy outlet in France’s Courchevel ski resort area) is opening a new store not far from the former home of Colette, where it will soon show off its edgy, handcrafted jewelry pieces, made by a number of top firms (such as Loree Rodkin, and Garrard) as well its own Podium Fine Choice Line. The medieval-looking store interior has been designed along the lines of an ancient jewelry workshop.



 JEWELRY AS ART:  Leave it to Van Cleef and Arpels to put a world spotlight on their

own firm while showing off some of the most extraordinary jewelry pieces in recent

history. The firm is hosting a major retrospective exhibit in Tokyo now through January

17th consisting of 250 pieces taken from its own and other major jewelry collections.

Among the outstanding pieces on view are a tiara worn by Princess Grace, a

 ruby and diamond bracelet commissioned by Marlene Dietrich, and Etruscan-

inspired gold bracelets owned by Jacqueline Kennedy

   –After closing in Tokyo, the exhibition will go on to Beijing, New York, and Paris.  




OLD CLASSY: Vintage costume jewelry is hot, hot, hot!  The Florida House of Lavande  

certainly knows that!  The Palm Beach posh costume jewelry firm has put its couture

collection on exhibit at Henri Bendel in New York and will put the pieces on sale to the

public in early November.  A glass bib with crystals and stones originally made for

Pauline Trigere will sell for almost $6,000, while a Givenchi purple and blue resin

heart necklace from the late Seventies will carry a price tag of $948.    








Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, November 7th, 2009

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WATCH OUT BAD GUYS!   It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s Superman! And this year, the American master-crimestopper of DC Comics fame is marking his 75th anniversary with a Christmas celebration by Bloomingdales in stores around the country.  Bloomingdales is partnering with Warner Brothers Consumer Products with a special collection of merchandise to highlight the big anniversary.


“We started working on this several months ago,” Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion direction at Bloomies says.  “So we went to our designers and partners and asked them to come up with merchandise.” 


The exposition has already started in most Bloomingdales’ stores, and the windows of the New York 59th Street’s flagship will highlight the collection beginning early November.  The products, centered mainly on men’s and children’s items, include Ts and hoodies, bags, ties, scarves, and a bevy of other fun, Superman-oriented things. 


So far, the promotion has gone so well that “We’re already reordering,” Harter says. Among the DC Comics most widely known Superman characters are Superman himself, Wonder Woman, and Batman.  No one superhero is outselling the other. 



Pick out a number of fun accessories; show them off with a handful of Superman comics, and Voila!  You’re in on the anniversary special, too!













MILAN MAKES COMEBACK STATEMENT:  Exports to major countries such as Russia, United Arab Emirates, and Japan continued to drag down Italian leather and accessory goods sales in the first half of the year, and industry observers say they don’t expect any major improvement before the end of 2010.  Still, there was an air of undaunted optimism at the big Mipel exposition in Milan last week, as exhibitors put forth collections filled with innovation and creativity.  Styles tended to be practical, rather than dramatic, with one manufacturer explaining that customers are turned off by too much craziness these days.


Major trends included roomy, deconstructed designs and embellishments such as studs, sequins, embroideries, and fringe.  Natural materials, such as hemp and raffia, were important. Faux snakeskin, often washed, and perforated open work calfskin received a good deal of attention.  Alexandra Gucci put forth an interesting handbag collection, including a silky python bag with napa leather in powdery sky blue.


Color received a lot of attention at the Show.  Pop colors were hot, especially metallic blue, fuchsia, and pink.  Feminine styles were also apparent at the show, along with stonewashed denim items and heart symbols.




PINPOINTING PARIS:  Here’s some more fashion breaking news from the City of Light.  Pleats are IN.  Very IN.  We’re talking about all sorts of pleats, tight and Scottish to flouncy and Gallic, all expressed in short to very short skirts, with updated, if not wild, wardrobe accoutrements.


From Chanel comes a little ladylike black dress, naturally short skirted, with a faux-pleat material pattern, worn with black enameled bangle bracelets running half way up the arm.  Also part of the story is a little black wrist bag.  Very demure. 


Hermes centers his attention on a tennis-like outfit in pale grey, with short pleated skirt and blousy shirt top.  With it:  A wide head band, a small white pearl necklace wrapped around the neck,  a smallish handle bag, and big silver bracelets, one with those very IN spikes.  







GOD’S COUNTRY:  If you’re going to promote cold weather gear, what better place to focus on than Mount Everest, high in the Himalayas, and known for its monastic caves, frigid weather, and off-beat mountaineers?  The company involved is Hanesbrands, and it is making its top-of-the-world bid to put special spotlight on its athletic Champion and Duofold brands. 


The company will finance and outfit a special expedition to scale Mount Everest in an attempt to leverage its history and expertise. The ascent will begin in the Spring and will involve a team equipped with special gear incorporating new fabric and design technology meant to withstand high altitudes and frigid temperatures.


To add to the excitement, consumers will be able to monitor the team’s progress by way of video and audio updates on the Website, ClimbEverestWithUs.com.  Jamie Clark, who has already made three attempts at Everest, will lead the team. 

   —Retailers interested in getting in on the action – and hopefully selling some mountain climbing accessories themselves –might consider bringing in TV monitors so consumers can watch the team from inside the store.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009