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 Each year Accessories Magazine follows the runways for the upcoming season, taking several hundred pictures, and sorting the results into the main stories that reveal the trends for the season.  Small retailers do not have the resources of large corporations that can hire expensive forecasting services that keep them up-to-date on what is coming in fashion.  So we can be thankful for Accessories Magazine that provides a wonderful service that helps retailers prepare for each season. 

This blog and the two following will cover the five stories that are predominant in the upcoming looks for jewelry, accessories, and apparel this spring and summer.  The first has the title, “Brazilian Beat” and as you would expect, the colors are vibrant.  The bright colors on the summer palette that was covered in the last two blogs are in the Brazilian story—coral rose, regatta, honeysuckle, as well as some colors that were not there like vibrant yellow. 

How are you going to accessorize these vibrant colors that jump out at you?  There are different options to suit different personalities.   The outgoing personality may want to make the most of the Brazilian look by accessorizing a vibrant blue with strands of blue beading or use a complimentary color scheme like graduated beads in coral rose.  I visited Macy’s in Lafayette, La. and they had two showcases in bold and vibrant colored jewelry that will certainly grab customers’ attention and play to this theme.  Retailers can find bright colors in necklace sets on Accessory Wholesale Inc’s site under Fashion Jewelry Sets.    

Jewelry in sea life themes are also big with this fashion story, especially multicolor necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.  Another theme in jewelry very hot this spring is garden themes with flower blossoms, butterflies, hummingbirds, and ladybugs.  In fact, the garden theme goes beyond the Brazilian fashion story to become an important jewelry theme that permeates every story in summer trends. 

The festive colors invite fun jewelry to accessorize the story.  One exciting innovation for summer is charm earrings with tiny bright colored charms dangling on delicate chain for trapeze-style earrings that capture a number of themes.  Several of the themes in these earrings are perfect for accessorizing the Brazilian look.

Personalities that are more conservative will want fashion jewelry that tones down the color.  Plated fashion jewelry is one way to subdue the bright color.  Multiple ropes with plated chain, metal link necklace sets, thin metal bangles, or graduated plated beading can do the trick. 

This season will also see endless designs using faceted glass pendants on chains.  Faceted glass jewelry that compliments the apparel takes some edge off of the bright colors.  Also turquoise is the color of the year, so multiple strands of turquoise with strands of beading in neutral colors will go with many hues in the Brazilian story and at the same time tone down the shock of vibrant color. 

Another way to capture the fashion story for spring 2011 in a more conservative way is to let the accessories do the work.  The jewelry, handbags, hats, and shoes can deliver the Brazilian color with neutrals or earth tones that can already be hanging in the closet from last year.  This updates a wardrobe, making it right in style for this summer while saving the price of new apparel. 

While not for everyone, vibrant color of the Brazilian story adds excitement that wakes up fashion after a cold winter.  Adding some bright color plus sea life and garden themes will have customers thinking summer when they shop with you.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

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  TREND CHECK:  DESTINATION CHARM BRACELETS:  Tiffany started it all with their wonderful New York/ Paris – themed charm bracelets.  Now Chanel has gotten in on the act with a delightful Resort Charm-St. Tropez which shares space on the gold bracelet for a fun collection of French Riviera-inspired symbols with little Chanel logos.  Its retail priced at $625. 

    –But wait!  This is such a great idea for souvenirs (much less everyday status wear) you can be sure it will be copied like crazy at very favorable prices!


THE MAN ACT: Swarovski is back in the news again, this time with a great new collection of accessories for men. The collection takes a more minimalist approach to design than the firm’s often-glitzy offerings for women.  What is most important here is that the collection “celebrates the timeless elegance and beauty of black tones,” according to Nathalie Colin, company creative director. 

   The grouping takes inspiration from architectural and modern lines and seeks to satisfy the tastes of both the more conservative man with cleaner styles to the younger generation with colored shield motifs.  

   The new Swarovski collection for men includes jewelry, cuff links, key chains and wallets.  There is a distinct industrial feel to the entire line, in keeping with the industrial-look movement that is spreading over even the women’s jewelry and accessories market segment. Material use is also interesting and includes stainless steel, ceramic, and black crystal.  Retail prices run from $70 to $210.

TREND CHECK:  PEACOCKS.  Yes, these gorgeous creatures are showing off their magnificent tails encrusted with gemstones in a dozen different ways.  Find them, first of all, on great looking brooches.  Look for them in pendants.  They’re even prancing across scarf prints and handbag styles.  Peacocks are wonderful to look at, but don’t get too close. 

   In real life they can be downright dangerous, and will run after you with a vengeance if they think you have something good to eat. Happened to me on Oahu where they stood sentinel over a quiet, serene Buddhist temple. Then they saw my candy bar. Wow!  Run for your life!







GRAPHIC EXPLOSIONS:  Expect to see a cornucopia of graphic designs this fall, as designers focus their creative energies on lines and forms in a decidedly mathematical equation. Some of the great looking graphic styles already hitting the market are quite imaginative.  Jason Wu, for example, has a great looking man-tailored outfit in browns, blues, and peach:  Barney’s class pants, and a blouse that features fascinating intersection panels of color all obviously balanced and set into a look of quiet perfection.

    A decidedly 1930s inspiration, the look might be called a present day take on yesteryear’s Katherine Hepburn outfits.  But all these new graphics aren’t all expressing a masculine mystique.  Wu also has designed a charming short sleeved dress with rows of different graphic designs from the hip to the mini-skirted hemline. 

   Slightly more imaginative is Pringle of Scotland’s tan dress with flyaway color looking like something the flying nun might wear. The dress also has a straight lined solid color panel – very graphic — running from the waist to the hemline,

   These are outfits that seem to beg for those wonderful little cloche hats of the thirties, as well as Coco Chanel’s fabulous long pearl necklaces. If earrings are frequently bypassed in respect for the masculine overall effect; no problem, big dark sunglasses take over here nicely.  Uggs boots, short socks, medium sized graphic handbags also make the grade along with skinny belts and here and there, a fedora. 


TREND CHECK:  TRAVEL CHIC:  Everybody might be grumbling about the pat-downs at airports this year, but you can ease the discomfort by showing off your luggage with handsome look-at-me identification tags. Ignore the pat, pay attention to the status tag whimsy. Leading the trendy move here are trunk tags from John Robshaw Gamati Luggage.  Priced at $25 each, one particularly fun design features a red and white elephant on a gold cord. 

COOL COLOR, HOT STORY:  You’ve heard of the Little Black Dress, of course.   Well, now make way for the Little White Dress, a brand new phenomenon hitting the fashion runways for fall 2011.  These little darlings are short and flirty, not too sexy, but with plenty of fashion energy. 

   One great looking example comes from Rubin Singer.  It is an overall white sequined nylon mesh mini-skirted long sleeved dress with a shiny, satin-like see-through lining that adds to the glitz and fun. Add some white accessories to up the cool temperatures somewhat.  How about some little white gloves, a little white clutch and a white

brooch?  Now you’re really with it!


ANIMAL MAGNETISM:  Looking for a great Christmas gift?  Nothing is better this year than a cozy scarf to help ward off the cool-cold-freezing temperatures expected to rage across the nation for the next few months.  Make it as trendy as possible by picking one with a wild African theme.  Leopard skin print?  Ohh that is the hottest!




Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

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  CELEBRITY STALKER:  The Fashion Delivers Gala held recently at the Waldorf Astoria in New York exploded with unabashed delight as Madonna unexpectedly   appeared to present an award to Neil Cole.   The megastar was her usual fashionable self, wearing a spectacular silver tunic dress along with rows of silver bracelets, rings, and big hoop earrings. “I’ve only recently started working with Neil,” Madonna said, calling him her new partner in the world of fashion, “but I already know that he’s a man that makes things happen,” adding, “His heart is in philanthropy.” 

—Can you believe Joan Collins?  At 77, she is still as sexy and gorgeous as ever!  She recently returned to the New York stage for a “One Night with Joan” special show, looking as glorious as any star could ever look.  Collins wore a Ralph Lauren blouse and Alexis Bittar jewelry, including a fabulous beaded statement necklace featuring two huge silvery pendants.

   The lady mused on a host of subjects, including past paramours such as Warren Beatty, Charlie Chaplin Jr., and Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr.  As for fame, she declared, “It’s the most ridiculous thing in the world.  People crave fame; they think it is going to change their lives.  It doesn’t.”

WATCH OUT AMERICA, COMPETITION IS ON THE WAY:   “I’ve been through two recessions, and accessories are right for recessions or difficult times when people don’t buy too many clothes,” declared Peter Simon, Chairman of Accessorize, the wildly successful U.K. based chain which opened two new stores in New York City this past month. “We’re coming to the United States 27 years after we started,” Simon declared, adding that the chain, which now has 750 stores world wide, plans to open 100 units in the United States by 2015.

   The product range includes statement and bridal jewelry, watches, handbags, wallets, shoes, hats, gloves, and more.  A statement necklace made of diamante runs about $32, and an all-over sparkling clutch is $47. Stores average about $1,500 a square foot.              

   Accessorize is known for the hot A-list celebrities and models it uses in its advertising campaigns.  “The customer also responds to our amazingly colorful and exciting windows and shops,” Simon said.  “We’ve opened in many diverse countries where we weren’t known at all, and we’ve done amazingly well.”




  • Plaid scarf – made of acrylic, feels like wool.  What could be better?




GLOBALIZATION:  While England is headed to the United States, Kate Spade is on her way to England, where the trendy designer will open a new pop-up store featuring her entire accessories collection.  “It’s a new market for us,” declared Craig Leavitt, CEO.  “We wanted to take the opportunity in advance of opening a regular store to get the product in front of the consumer and opinion leaders in the marketplace.” The firm recently opened a full sized store in Sao Paulo, Brazil, part of its aggressive international expansion. Kate Spade presently has 90 stores in Asia, and 37 in the United States.

THE GEMSTONE OF GEMSTONE:  This is an event to mark and remember!  The famed Hope Diamond has been moved from its home in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington to a temporary housing in the Harry Winston New York salon on Fifth Avenue where it will be the glorious center of attraction in Winston’s The Court of Jewels exhibit.

    To say the security surrounding the trip was beyond tight is an understatement!  But now, it is happily at the exhibit, where the storied 45.52-carat blue diamond sits supremely in a new and temporary setting which was voted on by the American public last fall. 

    The temporary jewel setting designed for the exhibit is called Embracing Hope.  It is a dazzling necklace that features 3 rows of 340 baguette diamonds framing the Hope at the center. It took more than 1,000 hours to create this (new) necklace, with eight master jewelers working months and months.   After a year, this setting will be sold, with a new substitute gemstone centerpiece. Sale proceeds will go to the Smithsonian and the Hope will return to its previous mount.

    This is only the fifth time the Hope Diamond has made it out of the museum since Winston bought it (in 1949) and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1958.  Discussing the stone’s participation in the Exhibit, Frederie de Naro, Harry Winston CEO, said: “It’s more than an event.  It is an historical event.”



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

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  DANCER ON FASHION:  Shen Wei, China’s extraordinary choreographer and the man behind the epic opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, is in the midst of a whirlwind around-the-world tour that is centered on him and his process of creativity. His work is nonstop and prolific.  For example, he is presently choreographing Rossini’s “Moise et Pharaoh” Opera in Rome, and has a dance performance scheduled at the Berliner Festival in December, among other things. 

      As part of the tour, the many facets of the choreographer, from his dance works to his paintings, and photography, are being filmed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his dance company

       In a rare discussion about his works, Shen Wei talked not just about dance, but about fashion – understandably, since he designs all the costumes for his dancers himself.  “I’m a painter, a photographer.  It is easier,” he says. 

       “I do everything myself.  I love fashion, especially designers who have really clear visions and make designs not simply to sell.  Fashion,” he asserts, “should be leading the culture, and not just trying to fit in with what people like.”

       Wei adds that he personally favors fashion that is related to what’s going on in the moment, the current culture, how humans feel. Wei says he shops in a boutique called If, in SoHo, which is known for its constructionist luxury.  The store also carries such off-beat brands as Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester.  What he likes are outfits that are devoid of pretension.

         “I tend to avoid much color,” he says.  “I think I’m, too old (he is 43). I don’t want to be the spotlight outside my work.  I wear black, navy, brown and gray, which is my favorite.  It fits Asian people’s skin.”





The 2010 Accessories Council Excellence Awards are in and the big winner for Designer of the Year is Alber Elbaz, creative director for Lanvin.  Elbaz is known for putting accessories in the prime spotlight with all of his fashion collections.  The couture collection he heads up isn’t cheap, but it is always wearable.  His accessories run from wild baubles to handbags with chain details, and shoes to match light-colored stocking hues. 

    Elbaz will introduce his new diffusion line for Target later this month, and it will include jewelry, hats, sunglasses, handbags and footwear.  “It is very much our aesthetic,” Elbaz declared. “It is very much Lanvin.”

                                                    More ACE


        Tiffany & Co. took the ACE Hall of Fame award for 173 years of outstanding accessories designs.  The firm presently operates 200 stores globally and plans to press on with its international expansion in 2011, emphasizing its new high jewelry salon, and new iPad app, among other things.  One of Tiffany’s big recent jewelry offerings is its key collection, including old fashioned gold and silver keys to be worn as a pendant. The look became a major winner for Tiffany, as well as all those firms (which are many) that copied the key theme. 

        Henri Bendel was named ACE Retailer of the Year, a major kudo for the company which has specialized exclusively in accessories and beauty products since 2009.  Prior to that, Bendel offered the public a variety of high fashion products and became a haven for independent designers. 

         The store also forged a number of innovative retailing ideas within its main store space in Manhattan, such as its “Street of Shops,” where it housed separate fashion categories such as handbags and jewelry, each in their own enclaves on the same floor.




                                      MISMATCHED TREND

The French say Americans are “Crude” because they always have to match things perfectly.  Well, those days seem to be rapidly fading, as a new global approach to design brings forward all sorts of mismatched items and teams them up as unsuspected pairs.  Among the latest offerings on this scene are earrings from the Swiss designer, Suzanne Syz, on display in New York recently in the Marianne Boesky Gallery on East 64th Street. 

       Syz might not be American to start with, but she readily admits her design consciousness was formed in no small part by America’s famed pop artist, Andy Warhol.  Well, OK, by Europe’s Jean-Michel Basquiat, too.  The earrings we refer to are made of titanium, pearl, topaz and kunzite.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, November 18th, 2010

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 “NOTHING IS NEW IN FASHION,” says Vera Wang, “It’s a matter of how you reinterpret it.”  She contends that there are just so many ways a garment can be sewn to be functional and flattering.  “The challenge is for the designers to twist it and make it their own,” she says. They can also use additional items like jewelry and other accessories to give an outfit an updated, high fashion newness.

Vera Wang should know!  The high fashion designer has a long history of remarkable successes in the fashion industry, from a job as Editor at Vogue to a stint as a designer for Ralph Lauren before she set out on her own some 20 years ago.  In that length of time, she’s learned a great deal about fashion, some of which she shares with others in a recent interview with the Associated Press.


The interview tells a lot about Vera Wang, too, not the least of which is her charming humility.  Rather than take bows for her award-winning design years, she says “Luck helps.  It’s better to be lucky than smart,” she asserts. “Sometimes the big break comes from something beyond your control.” 


                                          From Obscurity to Fame

WANG POINTS TO THE AMAZING, young Jasan Wu, who designed Mrs. Obama’s Inaugural dress and then was “lucky” enough to be put on the First Lady’s Hot Designer list, getting numerous additional commissions since then.  Wang sees Wu as a great designer more than worthy of all the hype and kudos but…do you remember when his name was announced as designer of Mrs. Obama’s gown?  Nobody had ever heard of him before!  

Fashion is expressive, Wang points out.  She advises using accessories to change an outfit depending on your mood.  “But,” she says, “Keep the core pieces classic.  Change proportions; wear fine jewelry with T-shirts or a chunky necklace with a gown.  But then keep those pieces and wear them in new way next year.”

   —­­This is terrific advice, especially for fashion accessory retailers.  It gives them the opportunity to show customers how and when to use accessory pieces, making their purchase that much more desirable. 



                                                True Fashion

WANG ALSO FEELS that everyone deserves true fashion at any price. Nowhere is this more significant than with accessories.  “No matter how much something costs – high or low – it’s an investment on the part of the shopper, and she should be getting something that looks good.” 

   —Jewelry gets high marks in this category!  What other product gives so much for so little, as well-made fashion jewelry?  Often you cannot tell the difference between a costume jewelry necklace that sells for $10 to $20, and a fine jewelry necklace, selling for thousands.  Now, that’s real value, and true fashion at its best!

WANG ALSO TALKS ABOUT “creating an attitude.”  She notes that the accessories you wear will change the feeling you have, and that will change the entire look and feel of an outfit.  “You aren’t wearing the same persona in ballet flats as heels, and clunky Uggs create a different aura altogether,” she says.  

Likewise, Wang has an interesting take on whom she designs for, and why.  She notes that she has spent her entire career styling, dressing, and designing only for women. 

“But never,” she asserts, “underestimate the client.”  In fact, Wang goes on, it doesn’t even matter what men will think.  “If a woman feels pretty and sexy, she is pretty and sexy.”  Wow!



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

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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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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.


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.


  • 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!”


  • 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.


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

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DESIGNERS LOOKING FOR something extraordinary to bridge the dampening effect of a world-wide economic miasma are turning to Africa for inspiration.  Here they are finding an incredibly sophisticated visual tradition in exquisite materials and patterns, and in a way of wearing fashion, from clothing to jewelry, that is intense, dramatic, and, strangely, natural.  Nothing here seems to be contrived.  It just all works.


The major Italian fashion consortium, Max Mara Fashion Group, is employing local artisans in East Africa to make jewelry for its young brand, Max & Co.  In other cases, jewelry designers in vital fashion centers like New York and Paris are forging ties with creative individuals and groups in East Africa for more innovative and expensive jewelry lines.  The result is hoped to be a very new cultural fusion culminating in new, exciting impressions and design statements.


                                     Hope and Prosperity


THE EMERGENCE OF THIS NEW TRIBAL design wave is a story that goes far beyond fashion itself. By developing community-sized fashion businesses across Africa, the global industry brings new hope and prosperity to an often impoverished, job-deficient area, changing lives and establishing a new economic stability. If it all continues to work and grow, it will be a win-win situation for everybody.


The new tribal expressions – which Christian Dior has labeled a “New Ethnicity” — are often beaded, natural, handmade, one-of-a-kind looking.  Crocheted handbags with traditional African motifs.  Jewelry made from wood, leather, bone and stone that fits amazingly well into the new “Green” movement.  Earth-y stories. Styles that combine ancient and modern artistic forms and symbols.  Timelessness.











And, for store or residential decoration, consider these fantastic home accessories, too:






                                        Fashion with an Attitude


An important thing to remember is that the new design movement is neither cheap nor commonplace. To the contrary, the new tribal look is strongly upper crust.  It has class and, as Time Magazine noted in a recent issue, it has an “Attitude.”  While it reflects the serene beauty of Africa, it also radiates with a very civilized Park Avenue élan.


To focus in on the new tribal look, think materials of every imaginable kind, hand-painted, appliquéd, hand-dyed, and more. Think bangles that run up the arm, dozens upon dozens, and scarves used for a hundred and one purposes. But, most especially think prints, oh…those indescribably magnificent African prints! Also think color!  Reds and greens and blues of the most glorious tones. 


–Add to all this big gold three-dimensional chokers, and long, multi-layers of gold beaded necklaces.  Hats that wrap around the head with almost magical movement, rising high and tied with golden cords. Huge hoop earrings, wildly big rings, and discs of every conceivable sort. Exquisitely cut African stones, set into clothing and jewelry, handbags and scarves.  Strap shoes embellished with beads and embroidery, snake skin handbags and long colorful tunics over blouses, under jackets, in a cacophony of different patterned layers. Fantastic!


This is fashion that literally takes your breath away.  Even when toned down, and blended with western sensibilities, they remain intractably wild. And yet the patterns and designs are remarkably sophisticated and intellectually evolved.    



  • Wood stretch bracelet goes beautifully with tribal prints, naturally! Pair it with prints featuring wild leopards, exotic flowers, and mixed sized geometrics.




Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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ONE PROMOTES THE OTHER.  Magazine publisher Conde Nast created the annual Fashion Rocks TV concerts to give viewers rousing close-ups of these new music-based fashionistas.



Wow!  Did you see the Fashion Rocks TV show on CBS earlier this month?  Light! Cameras! Action!  In Radio City Music Hall, New York.  Gorgeous young rock stars, outfitted to the 9s, showing what it’s like to be ‘way on top. Every one singing their hearts out, always in motion to an insistent, throbbing beat, commanding your rapt visual and sound attention.  Rock Music and Rock Fashion Mode?  Nothing less than mind-blowing!


Headliners included Rihanna, Beyonce. Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, Fergie and lots more!  And the fashion connection was everywhere.  Favorites among the female performers were bangle bracelets and huge hoop earrings…exaggerating head and arm movement, flashing light.  But the tie-ins go far beyond the designerwear for the show.  Rihanna has inspired Marc Jacobs to name a bag after her.  And she just loves those oversize zippers that give zip to her sporty stage costumes. 


FROM MAMA TO ARMANI:  Beyonce started out wearing ensembles her mother made for her (she is collaborating with her mother on several new dress collections for women and teens.)  Now her designer choices range from Armani to Badgley Mischka.  Beyonce is so talented she writes song lyrics, and there’s lots to learn from this one:


            “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings.  The shoes on my

             feet, I’ve bought it.  The clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it.  The

             rock I’m rockin’, I’ve bought it.  ‘Cause I depend on me.”


Beyonce’s last name is Knowles, and her younger sister, Solange, was also on the show.  (She’s had a #1 single recording, “I Decided.)  Solange wanted to look different, have her total fashion look set her off, aside from everyone else on stage.  And she did!  She says she likes to play the “high and low” game, which means she combines top designer pieces with stuff from H&M and similar thrifty hip fashion sources.  “My approach is to look at fashion as an art.”


HOT LIFESTYLE:  Justin Timberlake is right in the forefront of rock-star crossing over into fashion icon.  His line, William Rast, has him starring in commercials as this low-life Southern guy named William Rast.  The clothing line is anything but low-life:  premium denim, leather jackets and edgy miniskirts.  He says “It’s all about lifestyle.”


Plenty of teens were on hand, too, like Taylor Swift, 18, who sold 3 million of her intro  album, and who’s now designing sundresses that will be sold-where?-at Wal-Mart!  She insists “My ideal outfit is a sundress and cowboy boots.”  Jordan Pruitt, 17, has her own music production company and has just signed her first artist, 10-year-old country singer Jesse Kirk.  Jordan is also spokesperson for Limited, and as a recording executive likes quick and easy fashion solutions.  That’s why she loves headbands:  “When your hair is wet, you can just put one on and you’re ready to go.” 



Then there’s Aly & AJ Michalka, sisters who’ve had a platinum first album and whose concert tour is being sponsored by makers of “Hello Kitty” lines.  But these girls are planning their own licensed product lines, including jewelry and hair accessories as well as clothing.  No wonder their latest album is titled “Insomniac.”


ROUGH STUFF:  And then there were the raunchy Pussycat Dolls, with their distinctive music and scanty costumes that are a takeoff on last century’s burlesque.  But very today, and very dominatrix.  These girls not only have had a multiplatinum hit, but used the key lyric on T-shirts and hoodies, crowing:  “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”
So hot they sold like hot cakes. 


This rough and tough segment of the music world and its myriad fans take strongly to silver – in chains, long earrings, multiple bracelets, and more.  Look for the leather connection, too, and white or clear stones flashing from rings and jacket (leather, of course) embellishments. Black is a major color here, from Victoria Secret undies-style to black bead and stone necklaces and earrings.  Like we said:  hot!


The rapper li’l Wayne may be short, but he stands tall in the star rankings.  And his fashion sense is big:  “I used to only wear white T’s,” he admits, “but I stepped it up a notch.”  His stylist Groovey Lew Jones describes his style as “anything from an antique to the latest Gucci, from Salvation Army vintage to the hottest high-fashion piece.”  Shrugs Wayne, “You just know I’m gonna look good.” 


      –How about some really trendy purple here? Think purple stones and little neckerchiefs featuring super-smart rock concert prints, again, in purple.  Almost gruesome.  Definitely desirable.    


And the guy from Detroit, Kid Rock, has sold over 24 million records since his debut in 1990.  The long-haired, goateed rocker gives a sizzling performance, and has to be given credit for being one of the first to wear his white ribbed T and fedora hat, now staples for the young “In” crowd.  He bought the clothing maker, Made in Detroit, and should prove to be a full-fledged fashion icon for the growing ranks of street-savvy Fashion Rockers.


Whether we’re talking about crosses or crucifixes,  bad-leather cuffs or spiky dog collars, sweet colorful bows or wild chain necklaces, jewelry and Rock go hand-in-hand, with Rock frequently setting the mood, pace, and imagery for the latest in fashion embellishment. Listen to what’s being said and you’ll get a fast push forward on what’s uptrending.  Music is definitely a style-setter.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

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RESORT is breaking on the fashion field in fine fettle and wow! What a season breaker it is going to be!  Too far in advance?  No sweat!  Resort comes onto the fashion stage expressing brand new ideas for the last days of summer just as much as for vacation days under a tropical sun later in the year. Like all fashion, these designs rely heavily on accessories. 


What’s really hot?  Dresses.  At the House of Saint Laurent, an ultra-feminine line of carefully sculptured dresses shows the beginning of a new wave of girlie fashion coming on strong.  Many of the dresses are embellished with bows, feathers, and ruffles, and done in super soft colors, pink especially.  From Narcisco Rodriguez comes a collection of dresses in shiny, slinky materials and graphic prints.  And from Donna Karan, more classic-Karan, carefully tailored and sophisticated, such as her warm-weather sleek sheath in soft white.     

 faux pearl necklace set

…Ahh, but none of these come to life without the proper accessories.  Multistrand pearl necklaces are a big number on the new romantic-look design board. Some are high up on the neck; others drop down, Chanel-like, to swing as long as the waist.  Some pearls are colored.  Many are classic white or off-white.


BEADS AND BELTS:  Belts play an important part in the summery dress picture.  Many of the most popular belts are thin, at the waist or dropping slightly at an angle off it.  The new belted look takes impetus from several sources.  Think small-to-medium leather belts, cotton sash belts, corded belts, and sexy and thin satin sash belts

 bangles with floral prints

Color is a vital part of the Resort collections.  Blues and greens are hot.  So are reds and yellows.  But nothing is hotter than prints.  Some of the prints are graphic.  Others are big FLORALS.   Some have a decidedly retro look, such as Lela Rose’s very 1950s white-and- rose print dress. (Incidently, Rose puts a long, modern and playful necklace of multi-colored circles on this dress for a dynamite look!)


HOW MINI?  Skirt lengths on the newest dresses either stop just above the knee or are cut up into various mini-skirt lengths. Most of the looks are demure, ladylike, even elegant. But for the very far out, you can find some shocker mini-minis (in place of skirts here, just think panties, because that’s what they look like).  A certain amount of long dresses are on call, too, but they are less important it seems.

 African inspired necklace sets

Wonderful gold and silver belts with same-material buckles are making news.  So are necklaces that echo Africa, high at the neck, mostly gold, but some bone.  And here’s a charming surprise:  scarves, long, wispy, wrapped around the neck and left to fall sensually down to the hip.  Use them with everything, even bathing suits!



bright colored evening clutches

Handbags drive onto the dress scene with power.   Think CLUTCHES, primarily.  Make them charming, brightly colored, relatively small.   Catering to the big bag crowd are plenty of massive, expensive totes, as well as big fabric bubble bags and luggage-like carryalls.  Deep red is a good color here!


SWEET AND GLITTERY: Little sequin dresses come in for evening wear.  So do cute little shimmery sweaters.  Silver is a hot color.  Pompom handbags in shiny print materials make excellent carryalls. Play with feminine touches here and everywhere.  Use themes like roses and cherries in pink and red.  Put bows on everything.  Pins are gaining in popularity, especially Lucite pins softened by feminine ideas.  Hearts are super-big!  Fragile chain bracelets and necklaces check in here, too. 


LITTLE CLOCHE hats a la the Thirties are very chic, especially those with a zig-zag striped design in several colors.  For a comparable look, try using a long scarf wrapped around the head, but you might have to teach your customers how to do this. The right head wrap isn’t easy, but it’s worth taking the time to learn. 


METALLICS ARE HOT: Look for silver and gold metallic handbags, for evening and for daywear.  Metallic clutches are very big, but so are small metallic handlebags with a girlie feel to them.  Also check out the great looking gold and silver necklaces that make the outfit for summer into fall.  Gold hoops (with slight variations on the circular shapes) are absolute necessities for summer wear…make them big, big, big!


BRITISH GIRL SMART: Get the trendy Brit look with a pair of jeans, a smart T and classy linen scarf.  Part funky, part aristocratic, the Brit look is hotter than ever!  Brits tend to spend a little more money, on average, than Americans, so look for accessories that carry a higher price tag and promise excellent wear.  Brits also love that funky look, like big and colorful plastic-rimmed sunglasses. Teens will adore the look.

 ladies fedora

DIRNDL SKIRTS ARE BACK:  Hey…we haven’t seen these since the 70s, but here they are.  Dirndl skirts in great colors, from bright yellow to purple plaid to navy, all with just an edge of embellishment…a ruffle, cording, ribbon.  These classic skirts go well with classic tops, especially white blouses, and practically demand necklaces for excitement.  Also, add a nifty fedora or newsboy hat to give the whole look completion.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008