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Paris Accessories Designers Rewarded by Early Buyers

Coming off of Paris men's and couture shows, vendors at Premiere Classe and Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca trade shows were undaunted by the calendar shift.

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PARIS — The inaugural summer edition of the Premiere Classe and Eclat de Mode–Bijorhca accessories and jewelry trade fairs here saw brands grappling to be ready for the earlier time slot.

However, they were rewarded with buyers caught earlier in their seasonal buying missions. The shows ended their four-day runs on July 3.

Timed to coincide with the Paris men’s and couture shows, the shift in timing from September got the thumbs-up from international buyers, with deliveries also being pushed forward from late October to early September.

At Premiere Classe, light pastels inspired a springtime mood. Triangular Aztec designs in jewelry and bags, alongside large beaded necklaces, gave an ethnic aesthetic, while bow-tie motifs, dark sequins and sparkly fabrics hinted at a mood for glitz.

Functional purses on body-crossing straps or chains outnumbered oversize bags. Statement jewelry in glass, acrylic or fabrics was on offer, although overwhelmed by an abundance of fine chain or string bracelets and delicate graphic pendants in gold or silver.

U.S. leather goods brand Rebecca Minkoff saw showing at the fairs as an opportunity to grow brand awareness abroad. “We are looking for Middle Eastern customers, and this is where we reach them,” said Alicia Bilbao, international sales and business development director, as she awaited a meeting with Galeries Lafayette.

Miyuki Toshima, buying for Japanese chain Hélipôle, was looking for small, light “easy to carry” leather bags, and big chunky jewelry.

Rhona Blades, owner of the nine-unit U.K. chain Jules B, was looking to boost her accessory offer to feed the store’s burgeoning online sales, which have grown to account for 60 percent of turnover. “Accessories work well online,” she said. “And at least [with the trade show date change] you have a bit of money in your pocket to spend.”

Eclat de Mode–Bijorhca was dominated by fine, delicate pieces, with myriad variations on the Brazilian-style string bracelet adorned with mini charms. The trend flowed into the fair’s Precious section, which houses gold and silver brands, accounting for 40 percent of exhibitors. This daintiness was offset by a selection of statement pieces.

“It’s a good place to get ideas,” noted Hilary Foster, chief operating officer and creative director of fashion jewelry retailer Scamp and Scoundrel, launching in September as a new division of U.S. retailer Ultra Diamonds. She admired the acrylic oversize cuffs of French designer Jean-Marie Poinot. Scamp and Scoundrel will propose a more affordable fashion offering, whereas Ultra Diamonds specializes in classic diamond jewelry and timepieces.

Daniel Marks, Ultra Diamonds’ chief executive officer, was shopping with a budget up 10 percent on year. He cited watches, men’s and wedding jewelry as growing categories.

Layered, adjustable and stackable pieces, such as stack rings from French brand Milligram, represented a strategy to navigate the challenge of ever-rising gold and silver prices.

Identifying forest animals as the up-and-coming trend motif and porcelain as the new “It” material, Natalie Lacroix, head buyer from Paris department store Franck et Fils, said: “All the department stores have the same strategy at the moment: Increase budgets for existing brands, while reducing the assortment of brands in store.” Lacroix reordered with brand La Brune et La Blonde, which offers single diamonds attached to a fine chain without a setting.

Retail prices range from $632 to $3,162. Co-owner Véronique Tournet said the next collection would bump up prices using bigger stones, to compete with the big brands.

U.S. brand Nakamol, whose best-selling crystal-incrusted leather wrap bracelets retail at $72, attracted the crowds.

“European buyers are here,” owner Nakamol Sussman said, “but they want to buy at a low price, lower than $32 [per piece].” It was a requirement she could meet, recently replacing Swarovski Elements with those sourced from the Czech Republic.

The use of porcelain was cleverly exemplified in miniature doll pendants by French designer Natacha Plano. The designer had struggled to be ready on time, yet appreciated the date change for the long term.

It was a sentiment shared by Eclat de Mode–Bijorhca’s codirector and artistic director Richard Martin, who noted an advanced delivery date creates the possibility of repeat orders for the Christmas period. Eclat de Mode–Bijorhca is set to change its name to Bijorhca Paris from its next session in January 2013.

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