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Designers in the U.S. are known for their classic sportswear, but the Council of Fashion Designers of America wants to draw attention to American accessories designers, too.
The CFDA tapped Candy Pratts Price, executive fashion director of Style.com, to write “American Fashion Accessories” (Assouline, $50), which highlights groundbreaking work from fine jewelry, to shoes, bags and eyewear.
The first book commissioned by the CFDA, “American Fashion” (Assouline, $50), was published in 2007 and the organization’s next tome will focus on men’s wear.
“Americans have been extremely innovative about accessories and fashion, but there was nothing to illustrate it,” said CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg. “I’m very proud of these books. It’s good for editors all around the world to have them.”
Pratts Price has had a long career in fashion, namely in accessories, with stints at Vogue, Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdale’s.
“This is the compendium for American accessories,” said Pratts Price, who noted that European designers are more often recognized for their accessories, but that innovation stems from U.S. companies. For example, the zipper, and left and right shoe lasts (forms from which a shoe is molded) are American inventions.
“Why there is a perception that we [Americans] don’t create accessories is because there are maybe only three designers — Ralph, Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen — that are still producing in the U.S.,” she said.
The book is divided into chapters with titles such as “Innovation,” which focuses on items that include a modern Lucite tiara by Giorgio Di Sant’ Angelo in 1928, Bakelite bangles from the Twenties and Converse sneakers from 1917. The “Works” chapter discusses utilitarian bags, like Kate Spade’s, and gold and gemstone jewelry from David Yurman. The “Hollywood” section offers images of Grace Kelly wearing horn-rimmed eyeglasses and a 1981 photograph of a highly accessorized Liberace. The “Pop” chapter discusses everything from the charm bracelet to black-and-white saddle shoes, while the “Future” chapter looks to the possibilities for accessories designs, including technology such as fiber optics.
“American women truly love accessories, more so than European women,” said Pratts Price, who predicted that the current financial turmoil will lead to a cooling period in the accessories market, but that it will ultimately be a good palate cleanser.
“How many $14,000 pink crocodile bags can you ask a customer to buy? she asked. “We got carried away.”