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Archive for October, 2010...

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  WHAT DOES THE AVERAGE American woman look like?  Well, if you are addicted to the skinny portrayal of La American as put forth by the fashion industry, get ready for a shocker. Because she “ain’t” what designers would like her to be. And she’s tired of apologizing!

The average American woman is a size 14.  Now, that’s not obese and it really isn’t fat, either.  You could get away with calling her chubby.  Or, well rounded. Not at all what we’ve been led to believe.  What’s more (and this is the real shocker) the lady – according to the Palm Beach Post — is generally happy with her size and appearance

Beverly Blanchette of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, says “When I think of how I starved myself and how self-conscious I was for years, I can’t believe it.  I am happy to say I am now happy with myself (and wearing a size 14).”

Blanchette echoes many other women across the country in verbalizing a new attitude toward body size and appearance.  They’re saying “I’m OK.” They are tired of the fashion industry’s exclusive emphasis on undernourished bodies.  And they are looking for retailers with the clothes and the attitude to fit their own new philosophy.  

“The fashion industry portrays this beauty ideal that’s really false – 0s and 00s are in the minority,” says Maricruz Gonzalez of Greenacres, Florida. The 22-year old recently lost 50 pounds, going from a size 22 to 14.  And she’s learned to love the body she’s in. “The size on the label is ultimately irrelevant,” she says.  “The most important thing is that you need to be happy with who you are.” 




                                                 Size 14 Club

A RETAILER IN CHICAGO is using the Size 14 model as a takeoff for store promotion.  The boutique has started a Size 14 Fashion Club, and meets one evening a month for a special event, socializing, and light refreshments.  The Club has a speaker at every meeting – no, not an Alcoholics Anonymous style speaker, but someone to talk about being the “perfect size.” 

Emphasis is on what fashion looks best on a size 14, what accessories enhance the look, and what special things can be done to pull everything together fabulously.  This is an “UP” experience all the way.  Plans to set up a special interactive web site are now underway!

Buying fashion isn’t easy for larger size women.  According to the New York Times, thin people are more like one another; heavier people are less like one another.  With more weight comes more variation. That means it is very difficult to design for heavier women. 

                                            Limited Choices

“YOU CAN EITHER MAKE clothes that are shapeless,” says pattern maker Kathleen Fasanella, “or target the segment of the market that, let’s say, favors a woman who gets larger at the hip.  You really have to narrow down your customer.”  And even designers have different ideas of what a size 14 means. A dress measurement at Michael Kors has a waist of 31”.  At Lane Bryant, it’s 34”.  Hips measure out at 42” from Michael Kors, and 43 ½” at Eileen Fisher. 

So…what does the average woman do?  She chooses clothing often as a backdrop, rather than major focal point of her fashion.  And then, she ACCESSORIZES.  This means great accessories, from necklaces to handbags, to enliven her clothes and make them really special. 

Are there any key points to remember about accessories for a Size 14?  You bet!  First of all, the key is size.  Tiny jewelry pieces get lost on a larger woman.  Offer your customers a number of the larger size necklaces that are so popular today.  Suggest collections of bracelets, worn in multiples.  Go for wider rather than thinner bangles.  Color is another “must have.”  More intense colors stand out, give greater pizzazz. 

Handbags are another important category, and today’s style was made for the Size 14 woman.  Big handbags are terrific!  Stay away from the cross-body bags, as they will bring too much emphasis to the bust line.  Generally speaking, suggest larger evening bags rather than tiny ones. 

                                        More Experimental


HELPING a SIZE 14 become more experimental with fashion is another big plus for both retailer and customer.  Larger women can look fantastic with large prints, long skirts, and expansive scarves.  They can wear exotic styles, Africana, see-through over blouses.

As Susan Vitiello (who looks just great in multiple strand necklaces) of Jupiter, Florida, puts it, “It’s not the size of what you wear but how you wear it.”  Monique Vidal-McDowell, who wears not only necklaces but bracelets on both arms, adds, “I feel sexy and fabulous as a full-figured woman in my 40s.  It’s all about how you feel inside.”



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, October 29th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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    HAVE YOU COME UP with a new promotional strategy to bring customers into your store? If so, you are like many others who are searching for new techniques to lure buyers in their direction.  As Candace Corlett, WSL Strategic Retail said, “Shoppers have developed an immunity to the traditional sales messages.” 

So…if you are going to come out ahead in the new retail environment, the experts say, you have to get smart.  You’ve got to get creative.  You’ve got to find new ways of doing business. You’ve got to forget about what worked yesterday.  This in NOW.

Price discounts still work, but they work better when they’ve been revamped into a new concept.  Target, for example, partnered with Procter and Gamble to offer a $5 gift card to shoppers who buy a certain amount of certain products.  In the long run it doesn’t save money for the shoppers — who invariably use the gift to buy something for themselves – but it makes sales without loss for the retailers.  Sort of a win-win proposition!

                                      Giveaway Charms

GIFT-WITH-PURCHASE is another hot way of attracting customers.  CVS pharmacy uses delightful little charms as gifts – charms like stars, little sunglasses, mini-lipsticks, and high heeled shoes.  Accessory retailers might want to make use of the idea themselves!  Other gift- with-purchase ideas include things like adding a necklace chain to the original buy. This is clever, because it not induces the customer to buy in the first place, but — once her or she receives the chain — it is a short step toward buying a pendant to make the chain work double duty!

Assuring that your product assortment is relevant to the customer is another way of helping boost sales,  Wal-Mart is one of many stores working this technique with beauty products.  The firm says it is putting new emphasis on “restoring thousands of products to our assortment and adding new lines.”  The new formula is the “right mix of new and innovative products.” 

  ­­–Fashion accessory retailers might want to rethink their present product assortment against a general profile of their customers, adding new products that zero in on their more specific, present-moment buying habits.




                                       Special Events

HOSTING SPECIAL EVENTS to drive customers into the store is another successful idea in today’s economy.  You might want to teach customers how to buy and wear jewelry in the new “pile them on” atmosphere.  Showing how to tie scarves in numerous different ways is always a good idea.  Hiring an astrologer to give brief horoscopes to customers is fun and will surely draw people to your store.  Adding even more power to a special event is the addition of refreshments:  iced tea or lemonade or hot cider, along with cookies.  Who ever passes up free goodies?

Improving the look and feel of your store has never been more important to buyers.  Today’s customer wants to be entranced with an interior, to be drawn to special products, to be romanced by color and sound.  Paint can do wonders in this direction, for very little cost.  Just add bright, very today colors:  If you aren’t sure how to start, stop by your local Benjamin Moore or other top paint store.  They’ll be glad to help you.  In fact, if you agree to post a smart sign saying the paint is by them, they’ll often send by a color specialist to work up a palette with you!

TIE-INS WITH OTHER RETAILERS can work wonders for sales.  Find a boutique that will be willing to show off your accessories in their window displays, posting a notice of where the great pieces can be purchased, will almost guarantee a rash of new, enthusiastic buyers heading your way.  This is rarely a hard sell; after all, the accessories will dramatically improve the looks of their clothing, as well!

Reading off the tie-in idea is the establishment of new relationships with other retailers, relationships that can benefit you all. If you don’t already have a retail association in your town thinks about getting one started.

Associations can plan and carry out great one day multi-store events, with special sales and entertainments.  They can help retailers share the cost of Halloween parties and Christmas decorations.  One might plan a fashion show.  Another might set up Teen Specials, complete with rock music.  The possibilities are really endless.  Get together.  Talk.  Share ideas.  Then get moving toward better sales!



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

Filed under Bridal Jewelry
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ELEGANT FOLDS:  That’s one of the main styles created by designers and seen in the latest runway shows for bridal wear.  The dresses look like fabulously lavish paper, folded into exquisite pleats and ruffles and even minimalistic wraps with pieces overlapping each other in architectural precision. 

While neutrals and even bright hues were not absent from the showings, the main color here was white, the perfect snow princess look for these extraordinary, graphic presentations. Most of the dresses were full length, but some were short, sometimes almost-mini, breaking a little above the knee. 

This was a very new look for bridal, very sharp and soft simultaneously, very crisp and tailored.  Working with the dresses were equally refined, often linear accessories. After all, what is more important to the overall bridal look than a fabulous necklace, a stunning bracelet, and a very special pair of light-catching, flashing earrings?
Consider: white satin sandal shoes, very high, in today’s reaching-for-heaven mode.  Perfect earrings:  long silver slivers, shiny and smooth.  Or, medium-sized white pearl balls, classic and delicate-looking.  Bracelets also work particularly well with this look.  Best choices:  wide cuffs, modern, sleek. 


Another design that was very dramatic and sure-to-be-adored by brides was the lavish and ebullient flower blossom look. Echoing the floral trend washing over the entire women’s wear field right now,  these blossoms were seen everywhere:  on the shoulders of dresses, at the waist, on the heel of shoes, at the wrist, you name it!  The dress skirts were often huge and ruffled, their materials sometimes imprinted with white-on-white flower blossoms, too.  Again, white was the big, traditional color.

This very romantic, most often regal look took formality seriously!  Many of the dresses were strapless, or one-shouldered.  Flowers adorned the hair as well, most of them big, soft, floppy floral blossoms, easily arranged and rearranged to go with the most popular hair styles.

Accessorizing the floral brides were delicate gold chain bracelets and cubic zirconia-embedded silver cuffs. White origami hair sticks brought a gentle floral touch to the hair.  Silver and white- gold necklaces in very traditional designs brought rich gemstone glitter to the neck.

   –Carried by the brides:  White satin bridal clutches often embellished with clear crystals or beautifully covered with floral blossoms in white or peach. 




                                            Big is Beautiful

SPECIAL ATTENTION is being given this year to the renewed appreciation of women who wear larger sizes.  As the popular body look begins to change, emphasizing curves and bringing back the glory days of Hollywood with its voluptuous beauties, these dresses stand out as the perfect new choices.  

Strapless styles are made for ladies with full bosoms!  See these dresses in simple, fitted styles, with skirts draping in fine precision folds. A-line designs call for some but not too much embellishment, perhaps beaded lace insets that enhance without bringing attention to the tummy.  The desired look is beautifully curved, tailored, hourglass. But…no lumps and bumps, please!

A wide variety of accessories work with this look.  Consider medium-to-large chokers in sparkling rhinestone, set in traditional designs and worn with matching earrings.  This is the ideal place for mother’s bracelet, or one that looks like it.  Think white crystal, wrist fitted.  And for hair accessories, this lovely lass deserves nothing short of the best.  A queenly tiara, not too small, outdoes all other contenders.

More creations for the womanly figure include V-necked gowns, which narrow the look of the hips and tend to balance the figure; and over-one-shoulder asymmetrical gowns guaranteed to slim the body and give the torso a sleek appearance.  Diagonal draping furthers the slimming effect.

Real-looking CZ earrings are a rich choice for either of these styles, along with double crystal bracelets.  Necklaces generally don’t work well with the diagonal top dress, so save the accessory impact for a high-styled bridal bag, preferably with gold or silver chain.  Add to all of this:  long, above the elbow white satin bridal gloves.  Oh!  Here comes a magnificent bride!




Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Trends
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THE 70s: WHAT A DECADE!  The Beetles were in high form, psychedelics were rampant, aging hippies still sang about going to San Francisco, artist Andy Warhol was reaching for the sky and behaving outrageously on the streets of New York.  Remnants of Jack Kerouac still enlivened cross-country tripping, while the Age of Aquarius dawned on the horizon. The radical, transformational 60s were over, and the more conservative (albeit cocaine laden) 80s were yet to begin.  Marriage was slowly coming back into fashion.  And fashion itself was taking on new, no longer 2nd Avenue sloppiness.

BELL BOTTOMS HIT the runways like dynamite. Discos were hot! Denim took on more refined lines and finishes. Big brown leather belts brought echoes of the West, East to civilized meccas.  Indian Yoga gave way to Asian Buddhism. Long peasant dresses eased their way out, while tailored outfits edged their way in.  A more serious generation was growing up in America. 

Money was no longer eschewed, and many from the “Drop Out” cast actually considered going back to work, even on Wall Street.


                                      Bob Dylan, Super-Star

Still, it was a different generation coming on stream. Hard rock was its sound and fury. Bob Dylan entranced intellectuals and even managed to turn on a few buzz-brains. The “ME” generation was here, bringing with it a whole new manner of change and challenge. Hot pants rocked office environments. Big hair got smaller, teased up Afros, however, were super-chic.

The desktop computer entered the workforce. And the Vietnam War finally came to an end, but only after tearing apart the nation and the generations. 

Are we going back there now?  Well, you might say fashion is on a major retrospective journey, highlighting the look and feel, sound and cache of the 70s. It could be a lot of fun, if you don’t look too closely or get too much into its vibes. 




                                                                 A Breed Apart

SHORTIE SHORTS ARE ALL the rage for fall and winter, right here in the 2010-11s!  When they’re made out of denim they are even bigger.  Bell bottoms – like the cotton and spandex denim from Rich & Skinny – give an updated look to the 70s style.  Skinny belts work well here, too – like one from Motif 56, this one is woven and in natural leather. Platform shoes are back.  Well, did we have to tell you?  Stock up on several pair with super high heels (much higher, we admit, than anything the 70s ever saw).

And, oh!  The 70s damsels were a breed apart.  The California Girl look was super-popular.  Ladies were foxy, racy, turned-on.  Print dresses were their favorite choices in clothing. Their colors tended to be bright and unsophisticated.  Floppy hats gave these gals a look apart.   So did western hats, when they turned California-dreaming for the day.

Pantsuits reached a sky-high point of popularity in the 70s, especially those with very tight legs.  Cowboy hats were big, but floppy hats were even bigger.  Cats eye glasses were important in the 70s decade, just as they are today.



  • Large tubular hoop earrings.  They never go out of style.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Filed under Masks
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  THE NATIONAL RETAIL FOUNDATION estimates that despite a spooky recession, Halloween spending should rise more than 17 percent this year, providing the economy with a much-needed break from reality.  Halloween is big business, and Americans are apparently dedicated to having it stay that way.  After all, what would we do without our annual foray into the land of witches and pirates, ghosts and goblins? 

This is a time for more than sales; this is a time for scary fun…and practically everybody wants to get in on it.  For example, more than 40 percent of Americans plan to wear a costume for Halloween, the NRF says, and that is up from last year, too…a whopping 33.4 percent! 

Retailers in Palm Beach County, Florida report that sales for the holiday are already way up, and prospects for sales now through the holiday are excellent.  This is admittedly an affluent section of the nation, but still, the economy has been unusually depressed in Florida, making the sales hike all the more significant.

Of added interest here are a number of trends that have surfaced regarding this year’s Halloween.  The Palm Beach Posts reports Billy Wilke of Halloween City as saying, “It’s like people are saying that the down times won’t let us stop celebrating.”  Hey, that is really good news!




                                           Vampires and Gossamer Ghosts 

SALES OF OUTDOOR decorative Halloween items have been selling at a fast clip.  That means gossamer ghosts to hang from trees in front of the house, pumpkins to carve and put at the entry door, recordings to pour out groans and the clatter of chains to passersby.

   –Oh, things are getting spookier and spookier!

But that is just the beginning.  What about costumes for the big day and night?  Of course, the classics are selling well, like witches, princesses, fairies, ninjas and Spider Man outfits. 

Humor costumes are usually important, and vampires are hot, thanks in no small way to the many other-worldly programs on TV. Alice in Wonderland, (thanks to the fabulous 3-D film), Iron Man and costumes from Monster High are also on the Very Important “Scare” list.

But here’s a big surprise:  Costumes of politicians are down, down, down.  Hmmmm.  Wonder what this says about things?  A spokesperson for a national Halloween retail operation has a good explanation.  She says “people are sick of all the politics, period.”

                                            Discount Deals

NOT UNLIKE THE REST OF THE ECONOMY, discounts, deals and bargain items represent the hottest Halloween retail trend this year.  Seems like everybody wants something at a lower price than usual. 

At Party City in Florida, special 99-cent impulse items for Halloween have been positioned for fast sales right next to the check-out register.  And, instead of straight Halloween window ads, this year’s displays claim “Incredibly Low Prices” with 50 percent off select costumes, and discount prices on a bevy of other items, from Halloween jewelry to masks and Monster makeup.

   –And has that brought in customers?  You bet!

A  retailer in Illinois has been featuring the newly popular, “buy one, get one free” 

promotion.  In this case, the items are tombstones, and they’ve been selling like wildfire!

Masks have been top sellers in big Halloween run-up. However, not everybody wants to pay the regular retail rate.  Less subject to price pressures, however, are “classic” masks, such as special art creations and extraordinary Venetian masks.


                                             NRF Survey

ABOUT 70 PERCENT OF CONSUMERS in a recent NRF survey said the economy would have some bearing on their Halloween plans.  That has so far been strongly seen in the tendency of customers to say they’ll wait for items to go on sale before they buy.  Many customers are reportedly also bringing in coupons printed from websites for special Halloween items.

Home décor has also ratcheted up for Halloween.  Many people want to make the inside of their houses as scary as the outside, so enter items to give house guests goose pimples! The display of books like Dracula and Frankenstein are a quiet way of saying “Be careful all you who enter here.” And wall masks from all parts of the world give color and even frenzy to any living (or should we say “living-dead”) room. 

Eeeeeeee!  Ghosts are walking.  Vampires are smiling.  Halloween is coming soon!



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

Filed under Fashion Accessory Trends
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  THE 70S HAVE NEVER BEEN more in fashion!  At the New York Fashion Week, bold Tibetan colors took to the runways with verve, color blocking was a major trend, and flower accessories gave a thrilling 70s remembrance to it all. It was “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair…” all over again!  –Well, almost…

Nobody could have done the retro extravaganza better than Marc Jacobs.  He paraded yesteryear ladies with wonderful colors and wild color combinations down the runways and across the New York scene with a special kind of energy.  Big floppy hats were worn by almost everybody here, along with big purple, pink, and orange feather boas wrapped around the neck in snow-storm-ready style.

Pants and dresses vied side-by-side for importance.  Gossimer fabrics kept everything light and flowing.  Little tops and big shorty overcoats were charming, if a bit top heavy.  Shimmery satins were a new form of subtle glitz.  Jacobs fashions were anything but boring or old. 

There was a new enthusiasm to each design, and a particularly wearable quality to all.  Who wouldn’t look good in any of these pieces?  There was no teeny-bopper edge to any of it, and all seemed made-just-right for the new womanly– not-fat but certainly not anorexic – figure.  Can all this realness be real?  Well, don’t get too excited too soon.  Jacobs also put forth a pale blue satin dress with full skirt and cut short like a ballerina outfit.  Ouch!


                                            New Enthusiasm




VERA WANG PRESENTED a cap-sleeved sheath dress done in an updated floral design with black background.  She also showed a lovely grey over one shoulder chiffon sheath dress that was dynamite!  Hemlines were all below the knee.

The print wheel flashed strongly on fashions from Rodarte.  A blue and white slacks suit featured two very different prints teamed together with a very big blue print handkerchief jutting out from the waist.  Mark + James proudly put forth a super short outfit in light silver grey and white.  A corded macramé grey belt pulled it all together fabulously.

Adding spark to all the outfits were ACCESSORIES.  Wang hit on a black belt and shorty black leather boots for her not-really-Hawaiian floral dress.  She also worked big hair into a double row style, appearing at first glance like a little pillbox a la Jackie Kennedy.  Rodarte was into stockings (look at those golden legs!)  and socks and platform shoes.  Mark + James also went the Kennedy route with big black sunglasses.  Ultra sophistication!

                                              Artistic Connections

THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR of St. John emphasized femininity in his collection for New York Fashion Week.  The color palette was mostly neutrals, although there were some rich blacks and a handful of gold sprinklings, jazz-ing up the overall collection.  Elegant silk pantsuits had cropped pants and were paired to short jackets and somewhat full blouses.  Big double-breasted jackets and dramatically long skirts for evening were standouts.

–Perhaps most interesting in St, John’s presentation was a featured sample collection of jewelry from Neville Ward, including delicate necklaces, fragile bracelets, and multi-strand long necklaces.




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

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  AHHH, SPRING!  Fall might be in the air, winter is coming, but spring is just around the corner! That’s what designers had to say at the latest New York Fashion Week, when a new civility arose from the streets of Manhattan, and a new womanly allure took over the fabulous American collections. 

Hemlines have dropped.  Many came to mid-calf, others stopped more conservatively just above the knee, but the big difference was there.  It brought about the same kind of excitement as yesteryear’s collections, when hemline lengths were always the big news factor.

Ralph Lauren, King of the New York Collections, took on the Wild West in a remarkable way.  Here was pioneer lace, plenty of fringe, great conch belts with big silver buckles, even Navajo blankets cut into coat-like wraps. 

Leather and suede and lace and embroidery were the bases on which he built his line, mixing the Seventies with the Eighties, adding a little of the Fifties, and no small amount of very today style. Ruffles, tight pants, shorty jackets, lace coats over chiffon dresses and belts galore were all expertly crafted in a manner befitting a Royal Lady.

Lauren certain didn’t cheat the market of accessories!  Wonderful lacy scarves were added to frontier dresses with leather-and-silver belts.  Beautiful beaded and colorful necklaces were medium-length. Black beaded chokers showed off pendants of colorful design.  Long, silver, swing-y earrings were delicate, as were chiffon gloves worn half-way up the arm. 
















                                                  Classic Klein

CALVIN KLEIN RETURNED to the runways with a clean-lined collection geometrically pure and attention-getting.  Colors were equally without compromise, mostly tans, along with white, blue, black, and red.   Dresses and pantsuits hugged the body gently.  This was Calvin at his most understated best.  Nothing was extraneous.  It was a sleek, easy flowing collection meant to be worn at all times of the day and evening.

    –And that was the temper of the Week.  Surprisingly wearable clothing for real women.  L’Wren Scott sent a charming tan halter top dress with pink sash-like belt down the runway. It was a perfect example of an updated classic expressing a new womanly manner. 

Overall, the collection’s fabrics were luxurious, shimmery, and golden.  Hemlines were conservative, some short, more below the knee. Glamour was the key ingredient of the designer’s intention. Isaac Mizrahi designed a lovely strapless floral dress reminiscent of Hawaii, half yesterday-inspired, half today.  Dress length hit mid-knee. Anna Sui worked with pioneer designs, patchwork quilt styles,

Little clutch bags were seen frequently on the runways.  Some were soft, fabric, fold-overs.  Others were structured little box-like bags.  Necklaces emphasized beads.  Little fabric tie belts were important.  Big statement necklaces also garnered a lot of attention. 

                                                Tibetan Color

Yellow was an up-and-coming color sometimes seen in full, bright hues, at other times as a soft yellow cast on white.  An important trend to notice:  A cast of yellow, pink and orange lit up the runways with a special kind of colorful allure.  There was a definite Tibetan character to the colors and mixes, even though the resulting designs didn’t really speak Tibetan at all. 

The looks were American, European, and here and there Arabian, what with harem pants and loose fitting gossamer fabrics.  Little overall prints were likewise strongly represented.  So were very big brimmed floppy hats, feather boas, clutch handbags galore, and flowers worn in the hair, on the shoulder, just everywhere.   It was all almost exhaustingly delightful, and…the Show goes on…



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

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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 A DIAMOND AFFAIR:  The 25th edition of the Biennale des Antiquaries at the Grand Palais in Paris was a sparkling affair.  Sales were handsomely up from two years ago, and Bernard Fornas, president of Cartier International SA, said the market for the event’s exclusive creations was quite strong. 

    Observers credited a changed consumer attitude for the uptick in purchases.  “People’s perceptions of fine jewelry have changed,” Fornas said.  “They don’t necessarily buy for investment but on top of the pleasure and emotion, there’s an investment connotation which is maybe stronger than it was 10 years ago. People are regarding jewelry as a rock-solid investment.”

   About 80,000 people attended the affair which numbered among exhibitors some of the world’s top names in the art and antiques world, including Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, and Chanel Joaillerie.  Among the broad collection of pieces displayed were precious decorative objects and panther pieces carved from petrified wood or white opal.




PURELY RETRO:  White was the major color on view during New York’s recent Fashion Week at Lincoln Center and many saw that as a positive sign, pointing out that white represents optimism.  Like so many exhibitions so far this season, however, major emphasis was on retro.  The 70s came through strongest in this venue, with a refined profile suggesting a somewhat different direction from the more casual one we’ve recently been on.  “Ladylike,” is how one major industry publication called it. Skirts are longer for spring, and wide legged pants have returned to the forefront of fashion.

RELIEF FOR FEET:  Shoes are suddenly calming down after several seasons of super-high heels that would distress anybody’s anatomy.   For spring, look for a wonderful array of flats, as well as some great looking platform shoes that still keep the foot in a naturally flat position.  Sandals are particularly hot, along with little heel oxfords and loafers. 

  Also making waves for the season are belts, from soft fabric wraps that tie around the waist several times to medium-wide leathers with big — no, make that huge – round buckles, often made of intricately worked silver. 

  Plenty of medium-sized handbags are also making getting dressed up more comfortable.  Graphics are big in this arena, with plenty of black and white. Brown and tan slouchy shoulder bags with fringe emphasize the presence of a western modality. 

   Don’t forget sun-shading hats for spring, either, Fisherman’s hats dressed up with little rows of lace or ruffles (as seen in the recent NY Michael Kors show) are fun, casual.  Great big brimmed hats a la the Caribbean are likewise major.  The design was especially dramatic at Marc Jacobs, where the designer combined a bright yellow straw hat with an equally intense hot pink jumpsuit.  Wow!

CREEPY CRAWLIES:  When you talk about someplace being bugged, you’re not expected to be taken literally, more like you mean “bugged” in the Law & Order sense.  Well, not anymore!  Bedbugs are apparently changing all that, as they rush from store to store and locale to locale, driving merchants and customers crazy! 

   A couple of months ago, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Hollister flagship store in New York’s SOHO had to close down for several days while the bedbug infestation was flushed out.  The firm’s South Street Seaport store was also hit with the crawlies and had to be fumigated.  Then, in August, Elle Magazine’s offices were closed for – you got it! – bedbugs! 

   Now, Niketown’s NY Flagship reports it is suffering from the same problem and is now “temporarily closed.”  Bedbugs are a merchant’s nightmare.  They are almost impossible to get rid of, and pose a real danger to everyone entering the infested store as they are easy to pick up and bring home without ever knowing it. 

HARDWARE LADY:  Stefanie Pia is a jewelry designer with a love for flea markets and metal.  The Bassano del Grappe-native, now living in New York, rummages through Flea Markets looking for great finds for her kooky jewelry, things like rusty door hinges and antique keys to even bigger pieces such as butcher’s locks. 

   Pia uses the hardware artifacts to create new jewelry, painting one side a fluorescent color and then stringing them on vintage fabric.  The look has gotten her so much attention that diamond merchants Yves Ringler and Paul Gregory have decided to invest in her business. Pia is also into collages and textile design.



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

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TREND ALERT:  big changes on the horizon!!!  Skirts are getting longer for Spring and wide legged pants are back in fashion.  That’s a bit of the 40s and a bit of the 70s rolled into one. Heels are lower, handbags are smaller, and hats have big brims.  Well…don’t get too excited by all this.  Super high heels are still hot, big handbags are still loved, and mini-minis are still the absolute favorite of young, sexy damsels.  So, what does it all mean?  Probably just variety. 

MORE TRENDS:  Peplums are back, and aren’t they cute?  Pair them to romantic, somewhat minimalistic chokers, like a single strand of pearls, and equally charming pearl bracelets and you’ve got real feminine power in the “Iron hand in a velvet glove” sense.  Sure, these new dresses even work in the Board Room!

IN MEMORIAM:  St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was the site of a grand memorial service for Lee Alexander McQueen.  The designer committed suicide last February at the age of 40.  Many of the attendees wore McQueen outfits, including Icelandic singer Bjork, dressed entirely in black, with strange and exotic McQueen shoes and a long feathered skirt.  Reverend Canon Giles Fraser told a huge audience that McQueen’s life was lived in the public gaze, “but it was as vulnerable and retiring as it was glamorous.”

IN THE MAKING:  Are the Brits on to something?  The Anglo-Saxon designers went crazy with color for Spring, and presented a wild palette of brights at their recent runways shows in London.  Fluorescent orange and bright green and blood red were splashed across their dresses and pant suits, one more vibrant than the other. Florals were everywhere and there was a magical, rich English garden mystique to everything. 

   Bright blues reflected the Mediterranean and flashing yellows literally grabbed out and caught observers unaware.  Long evening dresses were flounce-y and ethereal, while play dresses were somewhat short with defined waists.  Sunglasses gave a theatrical mystery to the models, very big, with black lenses and, again, bright orange or yellow frames.   Dazzling!




CHILD LABOR:    Think the work-abuse of children is pretty much eradicated in major countries of the world?  Well, think again! The United States Department of Labor last month included India on a list of countries that use forced or indentured child labor.  The list covers 20 product categories including the textiles and apparel industry. Also on the list were China, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone (for diamonds).  “It was not a pleasant thing when we found ourselves on the list, declared Premal Uldani, chairman of India’s Apparel Exports & Promotions Council, which is working actively to eradicate child labor.  More than 12 million Indian children under the age of 14 are thought to work in a wide range of jobs from cloth weaving to home and restaurant cleaning.

THE REDDER THE BETTER:  Wow!  Red is amping up its presence in the high fashion world with a collection of fabulous dresses from the top designers of the world.  Can we ever get enough of this blasting bright hue?  Calvin Klein is one of the haute couturiers promoting red right now, in a stunning sheath with black belt and medium-length hem. 

    Kay Unger has a blood red dress out, also with a black belt, and three buttons on an angle at the left shoulder.  From Trina Turk comes a red sheath with boat neck and short skirt.  Very sleek! Diane Von Furstenberg also has a red wool jersey sheath on the market with short skirt and little cap sleeves. 

    And, hey, if all that red isn’t enough, how about a red plaid jacket from Burberry Brit? A red wool shorty coat from DKNY?  A red print scarf from Eileen Fisher?  A little red handbag from Longchamps?  All elegant, relaxed, great-looking!

    But that’s not all!  Red is hot for jewelry as well – note all those marvelous red gemstones flashing their way to notoriety around the neck, on the wrist, and elsewhere.  Red!  It is a very big number for now…straight through spring.









NEW UTILITY:  Functionality continues to grow as a major trend in the handbag field, taking no small amount of impetus from the military look.  Most utility bags are smaller than the super-big luggage-like bags we’ve been seeing in the market.  They’re medium-sized to sort-of-big, but not quite, and they’re designed with all kinds of special compartments and straps and what-have-you’s to make living with them just grand!

   Crossbody bags weigh in heavily in the functional bag field.  Think of Rebecca Minkoff’s metallic black bronze leather for an example.  It’s crossbody, with zippered compartments inside and out.  Satchels are another big style in the functionality arena.  Messengers’ bags are especially hot in this category, too. 

   Most functional bags are either leather or heavy grade material like canvas.  After all, they’re meant to be given extras use!  They’re easy to wear, and they show attractively.  Use them going on as hike, going to school, or navigated the crowds on a busy Manhattan Street. Think of Marc Jacobs great looking tobacco leather saddlery crossbody bag as a natural example for what is hot this year.  It works.  It is functional.  And, it is very good looking, all at the same time.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, October 18th, 2010

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IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN, AND WITH THE DARK holiday come all sorts of ominous creatures just waiting to scare us all to death. But, do you know who or what half of these dangerous creatures are?  We thought we’d bone you up a bit on some of them, just in case they stop by to see you the end of the month.

THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN:  This frightening character was created by Washington Irving and first appeared in his short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  The Headless Horseman was famous in American folklore for trying to suppress the Revolutionary War.  He was killed in the battle for Chatterton Hill, his head severed by a cannonball.  Thereafter, he appears as a legendary ghost who threatens night travelers with decapitation.

ZOMBIE:  This was a mythical “living dead” creature, also known as a reanimated corpse.  It can also be somebody under the magical control of another.  Stories about zombies originated in the African spiritual belief of voodoo.

UNKNOWN PHANTOM. Very scary, with glowing red eyes. This fictional character reportedly comes from the Power Rangers Universe, but his real name, race, species and identity are a mystery.  He has the power to become invisible.  His weapon (or accessory) is a black bat-shaped laser that fires energy beams.



  • Pumpkin pendant.  It isn’t scary, but it’s just great with any costume! 

VAMPIRE:  This is a make-believe character who lives by sucking blood out of living people and thus turning them into vampires, too.

WEREWOLF:  A dominant horror figure, a werewolf is a mythological human with the ability to shift into a wolf-like creature.  The history of werewolves goes back to ancient Greece through the writing of Petronius.  Werewolves have frequently appeared in modern fiction and films.

GRIM REAPER:  Folkloric human, one of many characters based on the legendary werewolf-like creature with supernatural powers.  The transformation is often associated with the appearance of a full moon.

MUMMY: There are actually two kinds.  The Artificial which is what the
Egyptians created and the Natural.  In the Artificial Mummy, the organs were removed from a corpse, which was then wrapped in linen cloth, treated with preservatives, and dried out.  A  Natural Mummy occurs when something in nature freezes or dries the body, keeping it from decaying, and thus forming a mummy. 

DRACULA:  Prince Vlad III Dracula was born in Transylvania and is generally conceded to have been the real Dracula. As king of Walachia, he would often entertain himself at dinner by putting people to death.  His favorite form of execution was impalement.

   –Dracula achieved widespread fame as a result of an 1897 novel by Irish writer Abraham (Bran) Stoker, who reportedly based his main character on Vlad.  Stoker wrote the story after doing research into Eastern European folklore.

SWAMP MONSTER:  These make-believe creatures have been surfacing in comic books for generations. They are similar to fish, and live underwater, rarely surfacing.  They tend to stay in swamp mire and are apparently related to the Loch Ness Monster and others like it.  Swamp Monsters often have special powers, and can sometimes speak. They also have a very bad attitude!



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, October 15th, 2010