Findings: And the Award Goes To… Rare Stones… Damiani Appointment…

Henri Bendel feted contestants in the second annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards, whose bags are displayed in the retailer's Fifth Avenue windows.

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AND THE AWARD GOES TO: Henri Bendel feted contestants in the second annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards, whose bags are displayed in the retailer’s Fifth Avenue windows.

This story first appeared in the June 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Up for top prizes in categories such as Best Student Made Bag, Best Green Handbag and Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design, the honorees will be cited Wednesday during the awards gala at the New York Historical Society.

“These 20 designers, whether they are established or emerging, share a common passion, commitment and creativity to make a unique handbag while being role models for entrepreneurship and small business,” said Emily Blumenthal, founder of the Independent Handbag Designer Awards and Handbag Designer 101, an organization devoted to helping independents start their lines.

Finalists are competing for prizes, such as an apprenticeship with Bendel’s, an opportunity to have their bags on the Bag Borrow or Steal Web site and a free booth at the MAGIC Accessories Show in Las Vegas. In addition, American brand Leiber will be honored with the Iconoclast Award for being a leader in luxury accessories design. As an homage, Bendel’s created a Judith Leiber for Henri Bendel limited edition “Roll” bag in dark chocolate brown that retails for $1,995.

Dolce & Gabbana is glamming it up for summer with a new limited edition sunglasses collection. Available in white or black, the three frame styles feature 112 Swarovski crystals decorating the temple in floral formations with semiprecious stones such as turquoise and coral. The sunglasses will hit Ilori stores this month, as well as high-end specialty stores and Dolce & Gabbana stores by the end of next month. The price for the eyewear is $960.

BAG OF TRICKS: Prada knows how to coddle its customers. This month, the luxury goods house launched a made-to-order service for bags, initially only available in its three Milan stores, alongside Prada units in Rome, London and Monte Carlo.

Clients seeking individuality can now indulge in a medium-size handbag with a gold metal zipper and name tag. The bags are available in python or ostrich and the color choices span from fuchsia and saffron yellow to rock brown and salmon pink. Prices are available only upon request in the stores.

On a more whimsical note, Prada fans can turn to the updated lineup of the house’s successful Tricks collection that includes teddy bear key rings and gadgets. They will be available in Prada flagships at the end of June. Spurred by the strong performance of the winter collection, Prada updated the offerings for spring by outfitting the little bears as sportsmen, including tennis and baseball players, a boxer and a swimmer, which retail for 120 euros, or $184 at current exchange rates. The Tricks line also includes white teddy-printed T-shirts and canvas bags in primary brights with applications of furry bears.

DAMIANI APPOINTMENT: Italian jewelry firm Damiani has named Antonio Pavan as president and chief executive officer of Damiani USA. Pavan, who is responsible for the company’s dealings in North and South America, was chief operating officer of footwear firm Skins. Before that he was executive vice president of Geox USA and housewares firm Alessi USA, overseeing U.S. operations.

“We believe that [Pavan’s] impressive international background and extensive American experience will be a great contribution to the growth and success of our company,” said Giorgio Grassi Damiani, Damiani USA chairman and vice president of the Damiani Group.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Hogan is tweaking its Olympia sneaker, first designed for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, for the Olympics in Beijing. The Tod’s Group-owned Italian accessories brand will issue a limited number of 888 pairs — symbolizing the games’ start date of Aug. 8, 2008 — of the ultralight, ivory sneaker with a gold band and red and green contrast stitching. They will be available at all Hogan flagships worldwide starting in July.

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