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At Paris Accessories Shows, Buyers Seek Originality

At Premiere Classe and Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca, demand centered on quality products in natural materials, rather than showy offerings.

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PARIS — Buyers attending the Premiere Classe accessories trade fair here at the Tuileries Gardens said they were looking for items to differentiate them from competitors.

This story first appeared in the October 12, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For the first time, the four-day event, which ended on Oct. 4, integrated apparel. “Brands are evolving, and offering both accessories and clothing,” a spokeswoman explained. “We wanted to let them propose the entirety of their offer, in line with this market reality.”

Indeed, one of the busiest stands at the show was that of French designer Laurence Doligé, who presented her third eponymous collection.

Loretta Soffe, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for Nordstrom, praised Doligé’s “sheer shirts and relaxed, casual silhouettes.” She said she would order from the collection, with wholesale prices from 110 to 250 euros, or $152 to $344 at current exchange rates, for March-April delivery.

The accessories fair, which ran concurrently with other trade events and the runway shows here, tends to attract an international range of buyers.

At Premiere Classe’s edition in September, and neighboring fashion jewelry show Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca, demand centered on quality products in natural materials, rather than showy offerings.

Dauphine de Jerphanion, stylist for women’s accessories at upscale Paris store Le Bon Marché, lauded artist Diane de Maria’s Bonnie bag, which was launched at Premiere Classe this month.

Jerphanion picked two of the machinery-inspired lithographed leather models, including a cream patent version, for an exclusive holiday launch.

Diane de Maria, whose wholesale prices ranged from 279 to 403 euros, or $384 to $555, also took orders from Harvey Nichols Dubai and Dover Street Market in London. She said the product had gotten a lot of hype since Sarah Jessica Parker was seen wearing a prelaunch model, so retailers had been waiting to snap it up.

Tracy Bradford, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for accessories at Neiman Marcus Direct, browsed umbrellas from Italy’s Pasotti.

It was the first time the brand, which is present in 65 countries, appeared at the show, where it attracted new clients, including Russian department store Tsum, sales manager Nicola Begotti said. Bestsellers included the skull-handle and Swarovski models, 65 euros and 125 euros, or $90 and $172, wholesale, respectively.

Tsum bought from British scarf label Jane Carr’s Americana-themed spring-summer collection, which also pulled in Harvey Nichols Hong Kong as a new client, the designer revealed. Carr, whose wholesale prices are 50 to 90 euros, or $69 to $124, added cashmere to her summer collection.

Ruth Chapman, managing director of London’s Matches chain of specialty stores, said she was looking for good price points since she had already spent much of her budget for spring-summer at the pre-collections. “Our budgets are up, but they are still so tight,” she noted.

Chapman purchased belts from Elena Meyer, Eugenia Kim hats, and scarves by Jane Carr.

Elena Meyer, back after a six-year break, presented a “rock ’n’ roll chic” collection of belts and jewelry and said she got orders from stores such as Corso Como in Milan and Bloomingdale’s.

At the September events, buyers gravitated toward colorful vintage items and handmade looks as they sought standout items for the spring season.

Attendance at Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca was up 5 percent, to 14,558, compared with the September 2009 session.

“Bijorhca is interesting in terms of price points,” said Sarah Zitouni, owner of the Marseilles-based private sale firm Lily Paillettes. Zitouni attended the shows looking for brands for an upscale jewelry site she plans to launch before the holiday season.

At Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca, she found inspiration in French brand Delphes’ cutesy silver, gold and vermeil creations. “Low-priced pieces are selling well,” Delphes manager Grégoire de Galzain said. “But the whole collection is popular, particularly our bicolor pieces.”

Delphes’ prices range from 6 euros to 75 euros, or $8 to $95, wholesale. De Galzain conceded that customers were buying less stock than at previous editions.

For the first time, organizers of Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca added a section specifically for gold creations. And the Cream section offered young designers smaller stands at preferential rates.

“In recent years, we have started really paying attention to the newer brands to ensure that they are spotted by buyers,” said Richard Martin, the show’s deputy director and artistic director. “They offer the show an opportunity to provide an interesting and eclectic product mix.”

Organizers said the number of visitors to the earlier edition of Premiere Classe, which ended Sept. 7, rose 17 percent to 45,812 compared with last year.

French designer Barbara Rihl’s collection of travel-inspired bags, from 60 euros to 150 euros, or $76 to $190, wholesale, generated buzz. The brand, with 1,000 points-of-sale worldwide, has received a lot of attention since the July opening of its first stand-alone boutique off the Rue Saint-Honoré.

Monica Kostelnik, design director of the 140-store, California-based Brighton Accessories, whose buying budget was flat, said she was inspired by embroidery, patchwork and handmade items, but found some of the designs too ostentatious for her customers.

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