Stars of fashion, music, and film are expected to shine at the 2008 Accessories Council Excellence Awards that take place tonight in Manhattan. Here's a look at this year's honorees.

Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga,
Designer of the Year

Nicolas Ghesquière is focused on cultivating iconic classic accessories.

Balenciaga’s creative director is fond of baubles, from the launch of his first bag for the house, aptly named the Classic, in 2001 — still the brand’s bestseller — to the conception of the company’s Edition jewelry line in January 2004 based on crystal and sterling silver incarnations of archive Cristóbal Balenciaga designs. The pieces helped catapult the costume jewelry segment to the high-profile perch on which it rests today.

“Balenciaga accessories are often surprising, sometimes edgy, sometimes classically inspired, but always modern. They are truly new classics,” said Ed Burstell, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for nonapparel at Bergdorf Goodman.

“They allow a client to speak to their personality, to say I am fashionable but not a victim,” said Burstell, adding the Edition line “superbly” manages to keep the original Balenciaga spirit while moving forward in a modern way.

“At the beginning of the Eighties, the Birkin bag was created and became instantly an icon,” said Sebastian Manes, director of accessories and lingerie for London’s Selfridges department store. “At the beginning of this century, [Ghesquière] created the Lariat, a masterpiece, which is yet to be [recognized as] an icon.”

Spring-summer 2007 saw the introduction of Balenciaga’s sunglasses line, while May saw the launch of the house’s first commercial Web site, open to the U.S. market only, that for now is dedicated to accessories.

— Katya Foreman

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