BOSTON — The price of gold has climbed almost 10 percent since January, silver is up about 30 percent in the last year and the sagging economy is making buyers squint critically at every order, creating much angst for jewelry designers.
Lana Barakat, who designs the Lazuli jewelry line, has opted to use precious metals conservatively and turn to copper, wood, silk and semiprecious stones to flesh out designs.
Barakat launched her business out of a small shop on Newbury Street here in 2002, but closed the store in 2006 to cultivate a national wholesale business.
"I've seen a 30 percent increase in the cost of metals over the last 18 months," Barakat said. "I'm trying to hold the retail price steady, but it's taking some creativity."
With sales projected at about $400,000 this year, down from $500,000 the year prior, she's been creative in terms of growth.
She's even started doing some of the final fabrications herself, wiring mother-of-pearl beads onto wooden bangles with needle-nose pliers. She produces her designs in Mexico, using craftsmen she met while working there as an advertising executive.
Her work focuses on graphic, geometrical shapes such as cuff bracelets made of gold-plated ovals, or a rough-cut turquoise cocktail ring wrapped in copper wire.
"Lana's line has a beautiful clean, modern sensibility," said Ilse Werther, a buyer with New York retail agency Wink, who has commissioned custom pieces from Barakat for the W hotel gift shops and catalogue. "She's a good match for the W sensibility."
Barakat's effort to keep costs reasonable — all items are less than $200 and most under $100 wholesale — is being rewarded by customers. The hammered copper pieces, in particular, wholesaling from $20 to $22, are faring well.
She also does a lot with sterling, and has begun designing disk pendants strung on bright silk ribbons that are rumpled, scratched and/or weathered for textural interest.
"We want the customer to feel like she's getting a substantial piece, with some heft," she said. "We're positioning ourselves as something real, but reasonable."
A Jordanian by birth who arrived here to attend Boston University, Barakat married last year in a ceremony at the Dead Sea. A honeymoon through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam got her sketching the peaked half-moons that she translated into gondola-style earrings.She's lined up a New York sales rep and 120 wholesale accounts, including eight Nordstrom doors. Bloomingdale's is reviewing the line for the Chestnut Hill, Mass., store, Barakat said.
"Retail stores were really cutting back this first quarter....But we've got a lot of ideas and we're hoping for pickup," Barakat said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast