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Archive for January, 2010...

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THEN THERE’S JEWELRY – THIS COULD BE THE DECADE FOR JEWELRY.  But for now, whatever, wherever jewelry is worn, it has to be “statement.”  (An iconic jewelry design by Tiffany’s Elsa Peretti is a sterling teardrop pendant.  Unless it was a solitaire precious stone, Tiffany’s probably wouldn’t feature something this small and subtle today..no bling at all. )

Typical of the trend toward mixing materials is a gorgeous twist bracelet, a multi-strand combine of pearls with pale peachy jade, crystal, silver and added lines of agate and – aluminum(?)!  Bet you never imagined that combo!  But it looks great.  All this wrist-enhancing creativity by Fenton.

Rings, bracelets and necklaces now not only synthesize various colors of gold and/or silver, but embody countless costly elements and “semies” and, like the Fenton bracelet, extend to everyday materials not ordinarily expected in premium accessories.

Coral Reef

And that’s not all!  Jewelry is taking on fascinating dimensions within the basic jewelry form.  Things like clusters that look like something dredged up from a coral reef, filled with wild shapes and colors! And don’t forget some classic forms that have been revised, complicated, and discovered anew.  For example, it’s not that long ago that David Yurman introduced his revolutionary mixed metals collection and now look where it has gone!  Top jewelry and watch makers like Movado take the silver/gold combination for granted and now are going off on their own remarkably unique pathways with some of the most spectacular pieces we’ve ever seen.  This is 2010 and it is thrilling!

HERE ARE SOME MORE GREAT JEWELRY PRODUCTS FOR YOUR NEW YEAR COLLECTION:

Wild Variations

Ingenious variations are still moving shoes:  Think of Sergio Rossi’s scalloped open-work bootie with a wide river of black sequins cascading down the length of the shoe, from the outer side of the top to the open toe.  It has a dangerous-looking ultra skinny spike heel.   And Diego Dolcini’s architectural sandal is a studied mix of suede and patent leathers, highlighted with lame.  The high, chunky heel is a Bauhaus structure of wood with plastic support.

Another Surprise

A rapidly rising number of items arriving at stores today fall into the “mix things together” category.    —–And another surprise!  Cocktail hats are back, big time, in their traditional petite guise.  Added feathers, bows, studs, sparkles and veils are favorites for these mini-chapeaux, with soft textured and soft-hued bodies, bright or contrast ornamentals.  Can long-sleeved gloves be far behind?

Fedoras are still dominant, and range from svelte felt to the elaborate 3-D floral add-ons usually reserved for more traditional distaff hat shapes.

Where is this all heading?

Hold onto your hats:  designers are outmaneuvering each other, eager to bring us more of the luxe, innovative and spectacular.  If you think your taste is sophisticated now, just wait til you see what’s waiting in the wings!    Just be sure to bring your patrons along for the ride…

Here are two forward-looking numbers– with backward-looking prices:

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Accessory Trends
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YOU DON’T HAVE TO STUDY ACCESSORIES CLOSELY TO SEE that designers are going beyond more traditional use of materials in their latest offerings.   Anything that’s stylish has been approached with a “Let’s do something totally new” attitude as top names re-invent the entire range of apparel accessories for 2010 and beyond.

Uptown excitement is no longer on a single material:  now it’s the element of surprise combinations/shapes/colors that moves the market.

Designers no longer strive for a harmonious aspect or simple concept.  Now it’s the shock value of never-before combinations of hard/soft, plain/patterned, luxe/commonplace:  all kinds of extremes, in concert!

It’s a slithery python world

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR MATERIALS BEING USED IN THIS NEW DECADE?    All leathers, plus the slithery, beautifully hued–and costly– pythons, crocodile (real or mock), chains, glass, brass and crystal (the latter mostly Swarovski, or at least Austrian.)   Lots of metal woven with ribbon or leather strips.  Pearls (real or mock), wood, fossilized materials such as wooly mammoth, mix with crystallized exotics.  And loads more odd-ball but eye-pleasing stuff.

IT IS AN INCREDIBLE COLLECTION OF DESIGN SOURCES, MATERIALS LIKE YOU NEVER SAW BEFORE!

Jewelry, of course, combines much of the same phenomenal mixes, intertwined with super-traditional luxe ingredients such as 18 and 14 karat gold, platinum, sterling silver and their -plates, precious and semi-precious stones and rare “story” materials.  –An interesting aside:  Louis Vuitton has gone crazy for rope.  aH   I wouldn’t be surprised to see treated cobwebs used for delicate strength some time down the road.

YOU CAN TRY JUST A BIT OF MIX AND MATCH ON YOUR OWN RIGHT NOW:

  • Multi-row Bracelet.  Stretch contrast lines of turquoise chips, wood beads, ceramic and more.

Muted Colors

MUCH OF THE EXCITEMENT IN THE NEW MATERIALS MIX DERIVES FROM A SOPHISTICATED, MUTED USE OF COLOR.  Look for lots of tan, black, white/cream, grey and…more tan!  It’s the season, long before Spring bursts upon the scene in a bright and joyful palette.  Even decorative crystals seem less blazing, more subtle.  Brights of all colors are simply accents.

–But remember:  No one need be a slave to fashion.  If one’s “color” is bright blue or blazing red, go for it!

Here are some of the season’s key items:  Handbags, handbags, handbags.  Big, medium, small.  Dress or sport.  And chains are everywhere today, as I’ve said before, but now there’s often a combine of a more delicate link chain as the base length of a wide leather shoulder strap.  Coco Chanel originated the then-revolutionary use of chains in women’s apparel and accessories.

–A good current example:  DKNY’s frame leather/chain patterns mate with nail heads that add even more visual interest and shout “Today’s Fashion!”

LOOK FOR CHAINS IN ALL ACCESSORY CATEGORIES!  HERE ARE SOME TO START WITH:

  • Rope chain, gold or silver plated.  3 mm, Choose your length.  Basic, Beautiful!

Then consider the so-chic clutch.  One new small clutch has a dazzling petite body with scattered, large and faceted malachite stones, stingray (yes, stingray!) strips and domed metal/stone clasp.  As close to unique as you are likely to find.

Disruptive Handbag Trends

Leather continues as basic bag body matrix, but now it is rarely used solo. Snake and fish “scales” pair up, from python to barkfish and whipsnake. Wood, plastic, crystals, sequins, wool, calfskin and lamb suede, ostrich, much more—all have their place in today’s “disruptive” handbag trends.

Another clutch that fits in the “mini”, or minaudiere category, sports hefty dark glass “polka dots” on the face of a brass and leather body.  And Judith Lieber soars, as always, with her deft décor of Austrian crystal flowers strewn atop unmistakable ostrich leather.  Soft, golden mien!  Bling, but muted.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

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“DESIGNERS ARE REALLY WORKING to keep prices down and quality up,” said Ken Downing, fashion director of Neiman Marcus. “They’ve also worked hard to keep a smile on retailers’ faces.”

Apparently the technique is working!

At the 2010 Accessorie Circuit held at New York’s now trendy Westside Pier and AccessoriesTheShow at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, exhibitors kept prices down.  In addition, buyers came with budgets larger than last year, looking for quality and value.

It all clicked beautifully.

An air of optimism filled the exhibition halls, and reports of substantially increased sales – up to 60 percent and more over January of last year – gave everybody a much needed high.

A Market for Unique Pieces

“Stores reacted so quickly to last year’s fallout and ordered so sparingly that they didn’t buy enough,” claimed designer Alexis Bittar.  He contended that retailers now realize that “if it is interesting and well designed, it will sell.  There is a market for unique pieces that are priced well.”

WELL DESIGNED, INTERESTING PRODUCTS DON’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE.  HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF REAL VALUE ACCESSORIES:

  • Wholesale choker with Celtic cross-stitch-like pattern in silver or gold plate.

Among those hot trendy items were plenty of tribal motifs and jungle prints, a call-of-the-wild directive with multiple layers, such as many necklaces and bracelets worn together.

Neiman Marcus’s Downing called the moderate price points at the Shows “exciting.”  He also felt that we are in a moment when “women want to buy costume jewelry and pair it with their diamonds.  There’s a lot of talent in that segment here.

–Elissa Bromer, president of Rebecca Minkoff, said the Shows were going better.  “We feel the worst is over, but there is a heightened awareness to buy smart,” she said. “Great product is going to be the driver for 2010.”

New Form Buying

A retailer from New Jersey said she was at the Shows looking for accessories that were both fashionable and reasonable.  Her store’s clientele looks mainly for classic items, she said, like Echo scarves or evening bags by Grace Chuang. “I am very cautious about how I buy now,” this merchandiser said. “It is definitely different from how I used to buy.”

There’s no question but that the Shows produced considerably better sales for exhibitors as well as many new clients.  Adrienne Vittadini president Barry Kramer said he opened some 36 new accounts, attributing it to the firm’s production of quality bags “at the right price,” between $200 and $300, retail, and the ability to offer quick turnaround times.  Apparently those two factors – price and turnaround time – were of major importance to sales at the Shows.

YOU CAN ENJOY TOP SERVICE AND EXCELLENT PRICES ON A HUGE COLLECTION OF ACCESSORIES.  HERE ARE JUST A COUPLE:

Different Viewpoint

Of course, not everybody was enthusiastic about the Shows’ results.  As Kramer put it, “We believe our competitors have fallen victim to the lowest-price-wins theory.  We believe product stands for itself and we are not going to dumb it down.”  But then, the company is offering lower priced goods just like many others at the Shows.

So, what it comes down to is this:  Prices have been cut ‘way back, by just about everybody.  There is a race on to offer better turnaround times.  Service is vital.  Quality is of major importance. And…sales are responding!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, January 25th, 2010

Filed under Costume Jewelry
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DID YOU HAPPEN TO NOTICE that at a time when many of us are suffering from the recession, we tend to add to the problem by instituting all kinds of austerity measures that make us feel bad. “WE can’t afford it” is the common refrain.  And, unfortunately, this is often the case.  The big question, however, is where do we draw the line between common sense frugality and what is considered extravagance?  It’s not always easy to tell.

However, and here’s the good news, even when you’re pinching pennies and watching everything you spend, you don’t have to feel deprived.  In fact, you don’t have to be deprived.  You can still enjoy myriad little luxuries that will make you feel terrific and get you through these tight money times feeling like a King or Queen.

–I call these “spend now, don’t worry later” items AFFORDABLE LUXURIES.  You’ll love them, and so will your customers.  Tap into a few of these, or make a list of your own.  They are guaranteed to make a difference in your life, and your business.

USE YOUR IMAGINATION TO DEVISE A COLLECTION OF YOUR OWN AFFORDABLE LUXURIES, AND CONSIDER CREATING A SPECIAL DISPLAY IN YOUR STORE FOR THEM. YOU CAN START WITH THESE:

  • Sparkling crystal brooch revisits the Golden Age of costume jewelry with flower blossom design.

SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO:  When I first got my latest car, they gave me a free six month trial period to Sirius. I initially considered it an unnecessary expense.  But then I listened to it!  Imagine:  all the music you most love, anytime you want to hear it, with no ads to interrupt your enjoyment.  For me, that means Symphony Hall, which has wonderful classical music; Margaritaville, where I can tune in to the likes of Jimmy Buffet and James Taylor;  and my perennial favorite, Willie Nelson on Willie’s Place.  Could anything be better?  Use your negotiating skills and you might be able to bring the cost down to a little over $8 a month.  And, that, believe me, is AFFORDABLE LUXURY!

Pinned for Prosperity

A WONDERFUL COSTUME JEWELRY BROOCH:  Pick one in the style and colors that express your personality, and then wear it in a dozen or more different ways.  You can pin it onto a suit or coat, use it to jazz up a hat or beret, and even pin it on a handbag.  Any way you use it, a handsome, well designed brooch will add real fashion and pizzazz to your outfit.

Brooches are becoming increasingly popular right now, and part of the excitement has to do with finding new, imaginative ways to wear them.  Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of England used to wear a brooch pinned high up on the shoulder and it always looked fabulous!  Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright owns a huge collection of brooches.  She wears them continually, and recently wrote a book about them, exciting new interest and appreciation in brooches in general.

–The great thing about brooches is that there are so many in the costume jewelry class that are exquisitely designed and selling for extremely reasonable prices!  These, too, are real AFFORDABLE LUXURIES!

COSTUME JEWELRY CAN QUICKLY BRING A FEELING OF WELL BEING TO YOUR LIFE.  AFTER ALL, LOOK AT WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD.  HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC ITEMS TO TICKLE YOUR IMAGINATION DELIGHTFULLY:

DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES:  Lots of supermarkets now carry these glorious confections but if none in our neighborhood have them, find a place in your mall where they can be bought.  You don’t need a lot.  Buy a half dozen and let them last you a week.  There’s no way you can feel deprived when you taste one of these luxurious creations.  If you can’t find strawberries, try going with chocolate covered graham crackers.  A box of them will last you some time, and you can even excuse the purchase by noting that dark chocolate is actually good for you.  Mmmmmm!

STATEMENT EARRINGS:  This is one not to be missed!  Earrings give a special look to any outfit.  But for our AFFORDABLE LUXURY proposal, pick out a pair that will turn you on every time you see them. Wear them, or keep them in a jewelry box on top of your dresser, and make them something to look at!  Think of a pair of beautiful, classic earrings you might have bought at Cartier. Or long chandeliers you could have found on Rodeo Drive.  Or flashing diamond earrings you happened to fall in love with on your most recent trip to Dubai. Then, work at reproducing them all, in style or mood, in fantastic costume jewelry pieces.  Is this magic?  You might never feel deprived again!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Filed under Fashion Business Trends
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IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO that New York’s Garment District was the bedrock of American fashion.  It was a busy hub of happily employed artisans, designers and manufacturing concerns.  With the globalization of commerce, much of this activity was transferred offshore, where production costs were a fraction of domestic…labor especially.

NOW THERE’S A RESURGENCE not only of manufacturing in New York, but of fashion industry paired with government efforts to re-establish NYC as the foremost FASHION CENTER OF THE WORLD.  Here are some of the current happenings:

A major promotion is titled FASHION NYC 2020, and it’s a coming-together of local industry leaders and select members of Mayor Bloomberg’s staff.  Brainstorming sessions are already underway to come up with innovative ideas and promotional planning to advance all phases of fashion and accessories merchandising within the 5 boroughs of New York City across the coming decade. The focus is on job creation and successful business operations for wholesale and retail firms, from very small to very substantial fashion enterprises.

[WHAT’S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK CITY HAS REAL SIGNIFICANCE FOR CITIES AND COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  THERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC IDEAS HERE FOR YOUR TOWN, TOO!]

Young Talent

The New York project also factors in new beginnings:  the mayor’s office is looking to foster young talent to provide long-term impetus to secure the City’s top-level status both in the mechanics of the fashion and accessories industry as well as the entire spectrum of retail.  Panel discussions feature leaders in everything from design to sourcing and manufacturing and retail, all already actively operating in New York.

— At a dinner held at Macy’s Herald Square recently, fashion executives freely expressed their opinions and what they viewed as basic needs at this juncture.  City officials at each table were seen taking notes.

WOMEN EXECUTIVES WORKING IN THE FASHION WORLD AND LOOKING TO PRESENT A CHIC, PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE  MIGHT CONSIDER ACCESSORIES FOR JUST THE RIGHT FINISHED LOOK.  SOME EXAMPLES:

  • Bow crystal pin adds a handsome accent to a business suit or tailored dress.

Ways and Means Committees

Ideas range from promos like Fashion’s Night Out, scheduled for September 10th, with possibly no sales tax, and special events to draw retail customers.   They’re looking for new ways to stimulate tourism linked to local shopping, again with hot-button angles, such as discount coupons or subsidized travel-to-NYC tickets.  Also under discussion are ways to shorten lead time for sources, so that stores can display fashions and accessories not for a coming season, but for right now.

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP—ALREADY!

Statistics bode well for the City:  today there are over 800 fashion businesses in NYC, more than in any other fashion capital worldwide.  (Paris, the second largest, has half that number.)  These produce $10 billion of business that bolsters the economic health of NYC.  In recent years, a good number of designers have looked to domestic sources manufacture their wares.   It’s a matter of balance:  yes, it is cheaper to have manufacturing done in, say, China.  But long-distance supervision of the manufacturing process doesn’t work for many, and for younger designers especially, manufacturing questions or complications are best dealt with in person.

—Also, you eliminate high shipping costs… and now the dollar exchange is weak against a number of other currencies, another factor that increases costs.

A key stumbling block is that offshore manufacturers want to contract with firms that order the highest volume, bypassing smaller orders or, as one designer put it, “putting me at the end of the line.”     Language also can pose communications problems or misunderstandings.  Here, designers have face-to-face control.

Mayor Bloomberg has worked with agencies and the private sector to provide “perks” such as offered by the NYC Fashion Incubator, providing help to promising fashion designers—not only services, but, importantly, studio space at a discounted rental to regular NYC real estate rates.  Once established, it is hoped that these designers, with local roots and connections, will base their operations in New York.

COSTS CAN ALSO BE CONTROLLED BY FINDING THE RIGHT RESOURCE FOR PRODUCTS AVAILABLE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.  SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT WE MEAN:

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Another goal is to heighten the prestige of the “MADE IN NEW YORK” label. With a concerted effort, that shouldn’t be hard:  there’s just so much excitement and glamour that has always been linked to the City, including its history as American fashion mecca.  The label should be prized for all it represents:  REBIRTH OF NY’S FABLED GARMENT CENTER—JOBS AND ALL!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 21st, 2010

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“Make it fun, make a woman dream, and make a woman want to buy.”

-Oscar de la Renta

We are no sooner past the big Spring fashion runup than we’re into Pre-Fall!  However, not everybody feels the same way about the timing and naming of the newest collections just coming out.  Haute couturier Oscar de la Renta, for example, says calling these collections Pre-Fall is all wrong.  He points out that the clothing gets delivered to retailers in May (yes…May!) and he asks, “Do you think a woman is going to buy a dress to keep until September?  No.  They buy now.  They wear now.”

–Hey, that is an important new fashion retail reality:  The immediacy of the buy/wear timing.

Easy transitional dresses led the collections seen in New York this month.  Classic designs were also important, with lean shapes and sharp lines giving a minimalistic

sophistication to many pieces.   But, again, nothing can be said to be all one way.

For example, Carolina Herrera broke with the style trend led by designers like Calvin Klein, presenting instead a grouping of Spanish-hot prints pitted against casual fur trimmed jackets and coats.  One summery spectacular dress featured an intense red/blue/black paint-splattered design against a white background with a strong color development ending in an uneven bright blue hemline. Note the color here.  It is important!

Classic Klein

Calvin Klein returned to his iconic New York design look with a gorgeous long sleeve pant suit in coal black, worn with equally black-black leather high-heeled boots.  The designer also showed a peachy straight cut dress with deep pleatings, worn with same-colored flats and looking very 1970s.

At Oscar de la Renta, the look was festive, rich, and brought up memories of the Romanoffs and the Saudi royal family.  Colors were very strong, vibrant:  Electric green, red, and vivid orange. Oscar kept the party going with even more bright colors (canary yellow, turquoise, and crimson) and embroideries.  This was all very exciting.

Scarves led the accessories parade, with heavy, rich, tasseled edges.  More simple designs included silk flowers in the hair, tight little neck scarves, hoop earrings, and medium sized ornamented clutch bags, all worked against clean, smallish silhouettes, many with an oil-rich Arabian sensitivity. No burkas.  Fabulous!

ACCESSORIES ARE RICH-GIRL NECESSITIES FOR THIS NEW DESIGN STYLE.  HERE ARE SOME QUALITY CHOICES AT REASONABLE PRICES:

Anatomy of the Look

Tassels, boots, little clutch bags of all styles are all very big here. Huge rings, and those insanely high heels continue to lead the fashion parade for Pre-Fall.  If you want to characterize the clothing, think: Tight. Belted.  Draped.  Stretched.

Skirt hemlines are high.  Tassels drop off many of the dresses. Little jackets over dresses are popular.  Prints are big:  Slightly swirly impressionistic prints in dark colors, and hot pop! colors like pink in polka dots are terrific, trendy.  Many designs are mixed with black.

Offbeat Combination

Waistlines are definitely IN, and, with the exception of a handful of empire styles, they are right where they ought to be.  Tuleh shows a cute pair of faux-fur walking shorts worn with tights and high boots and topped by a white paint-splashed printed jacket with comfortable tie belt.  It is an unusual combination, mixing traditionally cold-weather colors and materials with spring-like white lightness.

D & G shows a very sexy, very close to the body dress with black long sleeved bodice and horizontally stretched pink printed material making up the skirt.  Worn with huge black glasses and long black stockings, it is wildly La Dolce Vita.  Oh!  Oh! You do not get more cosmopolitan than this!

IT LOOKS EASY TO ACCESSORIZE THIS LOOK, BUT DON’T MOVE SO FAST.  FOR REAL FASHION, CHOOSE PIECES WITH QUIET, EUROPEAN EDGINESS:

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

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Yes, of course, we’ve talked about chains before, but in this fashion environment, we can’t talk about them too much!  If there is any one design item that is hot in the jewelry/accessories field, it’s chains!

Chains like Coco Chanel fell in love with:  necklace after necklace of glorious golden chains cascading down the front of a dress or suit, clearly stealing all the attention from everything else that was being worn. Silver chains like Yves St. Laurent played so brilliantly with:  heavier chains making up terribly edgy belts, or dangling chains set in as handbag shoulder straps.

Vibrant Comeback

And now chains are not only making a strong, if not powerful, comeback, they are doing so with plenty of new design interpretations and exciting material innovations.     From the roughest look of heavy hardware store chains on a hip biker outfit to the most delicate of chains enlivening a Sunday morning church dress, chains are the latest fashion phenomenon.

Chains are not only big for necklaces, however.  Think of them as the core of many brand new ideas in bracelet and earring designs as well.  What is more enticing than fragile, gold or faux gold chain earrings?  What is more impressive than a huge bib-style necklace with its dozens of strands of chains?  They are the magic of the present-moment style circuit.

HERE IS A SAMPLING OF SOME OF THE FRESHEST AND MOST INTRIGUING CHAIN DESIGNS, ALL AT HIGHLY AFFORDABLE PRICES:


The Chain Gang

One of the most important directives in chains is a mixture of gold and silver together; real or faux, one is as glorious as the other!  Shiny gold and silver are big, but so are matte finishes, which are increasingly characterizing fashion-forward designs.  A creative mixture of different kinds of metals is also edging its way into the jewelry field, along with sparkling chain additions of crystals, charms, pearls, stones or beads.  Put them all together and you’ve got the makings of real fashion.  You’re IN.  You’re HOT!

This is basically a look that defies all rules.  It is maverick.  It is often the exact opposite of what jewelry fashionistas taught pretty society girls for decades.  Ha!  Today’s vibrant fashion girls and women are a brand new breed, far more individualistic and revolutionary than their mothers or teachers would ever have imagined.

“The return of hard edged 1980s styles made a focus on chains inevitable, says Ken Downing, fashion director at Neiman Marcus in Denver, speaking to a reporter from the Denver Post.  “Many designers were looking for a way to give an urban and aggressive look to what they created this season,” he said.

CHAINS ARE AMAZINGLY VERSATILE.  THEY ARE AS POPULAR IN THE SOUTHWEST AS IN URBAN NEW YORK.  HERE ARE SEVERAL GOOD EXAMPLES:

The Cocktail Mix

Look at some of Michael Kors’ latest chain designs for evidence of that 1980s retro style.  Here you’ll find some fabulous industrial-strength chain chokers accessorizing chic leather dresses and jackets.  Designer Tory Burch takes the idea even further, by building in chains as hot embellishments on shirts and jackets, belts, boots, shoes, and handbags.

Apparently, whatever chains show up on, they create fashion and they look great.

The conglomeration of often surprisingly different chain materials and styles can be found in many of the newest jewelry designs on the market. Think of matte metals or mixtures of black, hematite, and silver in one intricate necklace.  Or put grey, smoky or topaz-colored stones with silver metallic chain finishes for a very 2010 impact.

“You tend to think of mixing cool colors with cool metals, but you can also mix them with a warm metal like gold in matte and shiny tones,” Downing says.  “Back in her time, Coco Chanel thought nothing of piling fake pearls and gold chains on top of real ones,” he continues.  “She believed in the elaborate and exuberant use of accessories.”

When Karl Lagerfeld took over the House of Chanel’s ready-to-wear and accessories design back in the 80s, he helped revive pearl and chain belts, as well as long rope chain necklaces and chains used as fashion-smart handbag hardware.  Now, that directive is back in furious motion.  Think about chains that are retro.  Chains that are very tomorrow.  Chains, chains, chains.  Big, little, shiny or matte.   Put major emphasis on them in your jewelry collections and you are sure to please your customers for some time to come!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

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LOOKING FOR DIRECTIONS FOR COSTUME JEWELRY DESIGN?   Look no further!  Many of the world’s most luxurious fine jewelry houses have put forth new collections just teeming with creative ideas and new trend possibilities.

Creating a Scene

FOR STARTERS, Van Cleef & Arpels crafts a stunner of a jeweled clip dominated by a 100 carat orange-y opal “sun” rising over diamond palm trees, set atop a sea of large, faceted sapphires amid diamonds.    Looks like a blazing sunrise over the South Pacific!  Not to be outdone, Cartier features an oversize yellow sapphire with a  blooming flower engraved on its face—the sapphire is atop the clasp to this multi, multi strand small-pearl bracelet further enhanced with diamonds, a large solitaire pearl and hanging small-pearl strands.  Plus:  the clasp design is wildly asymmetrical.

ELEGANT CLIPS HAVE LONG BEEN A SOCIETY STAND-BY.  HERE ARE SOME IN THE NEWEST DESIGNS

WITH AFFORDABLE PRICE TAGS:

AT  THE HOUSE OF CHANEL, focus is clearly upon housing design, starring a “Lego”-like luxe

interpretation of   Place Vendome.  Much of the collection is constructed on modern-house

architecture, but supremely wearable designs.  Chanel  jewelry also depicted the sun, as well as

traditional bows and ribbons.

Bulgari wraps the  arm with its magnificent Serpenti coiled bracelet alternating “scales” of white and

pink gold settings, each adorned with 9 mathematically-positioned pink sapphires or clear diamonds.

The tapered  head and tail repeat the pink/clear stone combine.  The snake image slithers through

Serpenti  designs as fab watches and rings as well.

Cartier stirs exotic fascination with the snake, in its new Secrets & Wonders jewels, and extends their creature features  to the magnificent peacock.

Beauty and the Beastly

POSSIBLY THE MOST EXOTIC combination of all has a macabre element.  Dior Joaillerie designer Victoire

de Castellane’s tenth anniversary collection is a stunning yet sobering assemblage of jewel-encrusted…

Skulls! One, the “Reine de Quarzie” ring, features a fully rounded, carved skull adorned with—literally

—a jeweled crown of beautifully positioned white diamonds amid cascading rows of pearls.   The base of

the same ring forms an elaborate, diamond-studded collar– so understatement is definitely not “IN”

This over-the-top season.  Ms. de Castellane interprets world-wide royal trappings—crowns and

collars, of kings and queens in the skull collection: 10 King pendants, and 10 Queen rings.

This designer formerly designed costume jewelry at Chanel, for 14 years, often in close collaboration

with Karl Lagerfeld, and made quite a name for herself in France.  She always has a narrative, to explain

and publicize her collections.

–For example, the 3-D skulls were introduced in a typical manner for this artist:  a séance-like

atmosphere at Dior headquarters, no lights except for eerie soft illumination of the pieces, appearing

and disappearing into the dark.

–You’ve got to like this woman!  She’s not only a great designer, but a superb showman, infusing her introduction sessions with intriguing drama.  She pooh-poohs traditional methods of displaying jewels and has come up with surprise! Presentations for Dior.  Her ideas run the gamut, from tucking her jewel creations into mini cribs, to show her “babies”… to the opulent skulls-out-of-blackness of her current work.er iH

SHE ALSO WON’T BE RESTRICTED by her materials:  gold only comes in a few shades, but if she wants neon color, she’ll apply lacquer to get the exact shade she wants … lacquered gold!  Definitely gilding the Lily!  No doubt, there’s magic to her designs, and lots of magic to her shows.  And:  her collections sell out…no small feat at these heady price levels.  (I’ve got to admit I love her aplomb, but skulls are definitely too avant garde for my taste, at least in these materials.  For me, skulls do fine in silver plate.—M.M.)

Goodies with Mathematics

Then there’s Boucheron with their super-fragilistic necklace by industrial designer Marc Newson who has applied astro-physics and mathematics to the fine art of jewelry, creating dazzling galactic art.  He identifies his inspiration as a “fractal” which he describes as “a normal formation that occurs everywhere, in the sky and on the Earth.”

But there’s nothing “normal” in the swirling whirl of diamonds surrounded by clusters of faceted sapphires of varying shades and sizes. It’s a bib-style, big “statement” necklace, incredibly opulent in concept and the manner it mimics Nature.   (No, no industrial diamonds were used by this industrial designer, but 2,000 stones are in the necklace, set in mini-prongs not visible to the eye, which gives “floating in air” ambiance to this stunner.)

SO CONSIDER THESE HIGH-FALUTING NEW IDEAS AND TRY THESE IN-TUNE PIECES AT A SMALL PRICE:

(something with a skull and

Something with a swirl of rhinestones.)

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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ITALIAN CLASS:  True Religion is going real glam for Spring 2010, when it unveils its latest advertising campaign.  Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue regular Tori Praver and men’s hot fashion model Gabriel Aubry appear together in a sexy black and white campaign shot done at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.   An executive for the firm said the campaign illustrates the brand’s progression from a strictly hippie-inspired aesthetic to a more refined and upscale look.  “It is a lot more glam, more glitz, but not moving away from our roots,” CEO Jeff Lubell said.

Lubell noted that he thinks retailers are ready for the next trend-setting style in jeans, but with the American economy the way it is, they really don’t have the money to pay for an imported premium product.  True Religion, however, is manufactured domestically.

“It’s very hard for retailers to buy when they want today,” he said. “But we saw an opportunity to manufacture Italian-type product domestically and to be at an affordable price.”

Retail Legislation

GOOD NEWS:  The House passed a broad tax relief bill that allows retailers to write off the cost of remodeling stores in a dramatically shorter period of time.  The bill puts aside $31 billion in tax breaks for businesses and individuals.  The bill, which has the enthusiastic support of retailers, provides for a one year extension for certain leasehold improvements and sets a 15-year period for depreciation of remodeling retail stores. Without the extension, the depreciation period would revert to 39 years after December 31.

Mark Warren of the Retail Industry Leaders Association noted that “Retailers improve stores every few years, so even 15 years doesn’t match the economic life of a lot of improvements.  But,” he added, it is a significant improvement over matching the life of the building [39 years].

IF YOU’RE PLANNING RENOVATIONS TO YOUR STORE SPACE, YOU’LL WANT SOME GREAT NEW PRODUCTS TO SHOW OFF, TOO.  HERE ARE SOME TO CONSIDER:

TARGET LAUNCHES HOT-SHOT TEMPORARY STORE:   Are we moving fast into the future or what?  Now Target has opened a futuristic temporary store in lower Manhattan, complete with a fake brick face and a sandwich board menu of great gifts for the holidays.  The great looking “country store” was designed with busy consumers in mind and allows customers to order from a menu, by number, in just minutes. Window vignettes decorated for the holidays separate products by price:  under $50, under $25, and so on. Customers then go to a fast-food restaurant-like window to pick up their purchases, all wrapped and ready for giving. Fast! Here are some of the things they can get:  fashion, beauty, toys and electronics products.  A cashmere shawl for a low $24.99, and a scented candle for $12.90.  Is this a great idea?  Dynamite!

Christie’s Auction

FOR THE CHILDREN:  Bulgari has donated more than $4 million of exclusive jewelry and watches to a special Save the Children’s Rewrite the Future Campaign that it is sponsoring along with Christie’s.  The charitable affair marks the close of the famed Roman jeweler’s 125th anniversary year.  The auction is being held in Christie’s flagship in Manhattan.

The jewelry collection has traveling a long way to New York, and has been feted by numerous celebrities anxious to support the cause.  Among other things, Save the Children is dedicated to providing education for 8 million children living in conflicted areas.

The auction consists of several pieces of “high jewelry” and timepieces.  One necklace contains 450 carats of sapphires interspersed with 70 carats of diamonds.  It retails for more than $1 million.

DID YOU KNOW?  According to Cotton Incorporated, the average woman owns eight pairs of jeans. That includes everything from Wal-Mart jeans to designer jeans, cut offs, stretch, low cut, washed, dark, you name it.  Eight pair!  And if you are wondering what this means to you, as a fashion accessory retailer, well…it means a lot.  It means you’ve got a look that you can probably accessorize for years to come!

–Think studs.  And chains.  And bangle bracelets.  Big hoop earrings.  Wild leather jackets.  Super-Americana stuff, from turquoise to brass rings.  Long necklaces.  Crosses.  Skulls.  John Hardy-looking images.  Flimsy little lace blouses for gals who want to soften the overall look. Fingerless gloves.  Backpacks. Wow!  The list goes on…

–The jeans and leather jacket company Affliction has a logo that says “Live Fast.”  Got it?  That’s the jeans directional!

JEANS JUST AREN’T COMPLETE WITHOUT SOME VERY SPECIAL ACCESSORIES.  TRY THESE FOR STARTERS:

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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LOOK OUT FOR A NEW LINE OF ON-THE-EDGE CELEBRITY HIGH END JEWELRY!  The new collection comes from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who have reportedly been working on the jewelry for about a year, and are now ready to take it to market, with prices starting at $525 for a silver baby spoon with a curving serpent handle…very chic, very sophisticated! This is a limited edition collection and will sell in luxury Asprey stores in London, New York, Beverly Hills, Tokyo and Dubai.  All net proceeds with go to the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict.

          Jolie has long been an avid jewelry lover, and Pitt has made no secret about his passion for architecture and design. The hot movie star has previously created pieces for Italian jeweler Damiani. Some of the top end pieces (those prices have yet to be determined) in the new collection include black diamond and pave rings, bracelets, earrings, men’s cuff links, and dress studs.  The serpent bracelets, however, seem to be the stand-out of the jewelry crowd. Hey, serpents, indeed! 

   –Jolie says that when she was pregnant she was given a serpent ring from Asprey and has ever since seen it as a talisman and protector for her family.  Well, don’t forget, in the East serpents have always been an intense spiritual energy sign!

 

A GIFT GIVEN AT THE RIGHT TIME CAN CREATE WARM, LIFELONG MEMORIES.  HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC ACCESSORIES AT REASONABLE PRICES, WITH QUALITY DESIGN:

 

 

 

 

 

                                           REPTILIAN ATTACK

 

LEATHER STOP.  CAN WE GET MORE OF THIS?  Looks like we can’t!  Leather just keeps getting hotter and hotter, newer and newer. Now, Giorgio Armani, the couturier master of Milan, is presenting a wild and glorious collection of skinny jackets with man-tailored slouchy men’s trousers.  He crafts some of the softest, most plaint leather you have ever, ever seen, all for the ladies very exclusive circle. These leathers are mostly in dark, brooding, but very over-the-top sophisticated colors of black, grey, and purple.

      Of course, not everybody knows how to work leather exactly right.  Some, like Armani, know how to ride the line between luxury and tough, coming off with an edgy look that is very urbane and desirable. Others come off with tiny faux leather shorts that look like panty girdles of twenty years ago, and call them outerwear.  Still more give the whole look a tough, even cheap appearance, paired with long black stockings, weird looking porno-style boots, and maybe a captain’s hat to soften the overall effect.  Oh well…

     How do you accessorize this?  Well, now, that’s the fun. Frankly, Armani rarely needs more than a simple silver bracelet and maybe a lovely deep silk scarf.  But the others?  How about long black earrings to echo the black Kohl eye makeup? Or big, colorful belts to pull in what can’t be pulled in much more.  Or fingerless biker gloves.  Or a denim Harley jacket, that suddenly looks ultra-feminine considering the company it’s in. 

     Oh…you wanna look cute?  Put a bright yellow and green beaded choker around the neck, too.  Frankly, kids will love it and, beyond the sarcasm, it does look hot!

 

ACCESSORIZING LEATHER CAN BE A BLAST!  HERE ARE SOME GREAT IDEAS FOR A TOUGH/CHIC EXPRESSION THAT HAS AN EDGE TO IT:

 

 

 

 

  • Leather and faux diamonds:  what a pair!  Try these lavish CZ earrings for a magnificent look. 

 

                          

                                ON THE PYTHON TRAIL      

 

SLITHERY STUFF:  It’s expensive.  And it’s beautiful.  So what could you expect but a lot of attention from the fashion world?  Ambrosi Abriann, the very young exotic skin accessories company, is opening its first 1,500 plus square foot store at 850 Madison Avenue in New York’s classy high rent district this month.  The emporium will feature the firm’s wild new python collection, with handbag prices running from $375 to over $62,000. 

    –And, imagine, with all those scary pythons slitering around the Florida Everglades these days, you could actually go out and bag one for yourself for nothing!

 

                                    

                                   STAIRCASE TO PARADISE

 

KATE MOSS AT MIU MIU DID UP THE LEATHER SCENE with panache recently as she frolicked and showed off her wares in Europe’s top fashion centers. Setting up the look of luxury for Spring wardrobe fare, Moss displayed a very tight fitting long sleeves. Mini skirted high-necked black leather dress all pulled tight and wrinkly, with a braided black leather belt and black leather clutch. Very dark.  Very dramatic!   Complete with black nails and a simple, pulled back hairdo, the outfit worked wonders.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the designer lady was seen posing on one of those totally elegant black and gold staircases practically indigenous to monied Europeans.  WoW!

 

                                         SQUEEZABLE TOTABLES

 

…AND BEFORE WE END…WHAT ABOUT THOSE BIG SOFTIE BLACK LEATHER TOTES FROM CHANEL?  Are these a contradiction in terms?  The bags are huge, big enough for a two-week trek-away, but they are meant to be handbags.  They are smooth as silk, but they are leather.  They shine, but they are very, very black.  And to top it all off, they aren’t tough.  They aren’t rough.  They are sweet, feminine, ever romantic. 

   –Now, how did Chanel ever pull this one off?

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, January 4th, 2010