By and  on April 11, 1994

NEW YORK -- The accessories industry made its debut as part of the Bryant Park tent shows last week, but it did it without showing any merchandise.

Participating for the first time as a group in the 7th on Sixth shows, the 32 accessories designer members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America decided instead to show a 16-minute film intended to reflect the importance of the category as a vital part of the fashion picture.

It was, as Joanne Hart, fashion director of Federated Merchandising, put it, "a terrific pep rally for accessories."

Hart, however, and a number of other retailers, wondered where the merchandise was.

"I think if the designers really want to make a statement, they have to show their stuff," said Ellin Saltzman, senior vice president and fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman.

Hart said a film could well continue as the core of the presentation, but then it could be augmented with some type of merchandise presentation.

Anne Keenes, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of accessories for Saks Fifth Avenue, had several ideas for future shows.

"I think it would be interesting to present the accessories -- maybe not as a runway show -- but through some sort of exhibit, maybe via video or in a boutique-type atmosphere," she said.

Rob Goldfarb, merchandise manager of accessories for Henri Bendel, said he would like to see more fashion information presented.

"I would have liked to have seen more about fall trends," Goldfarb noted. "It would be great to see a focus on current trends, and particularly what's hot."

The presentation, held Wednesday night at the Josephine Pavilion in Bryant Park, was made to a near-capacity audience of retailers, press and accessories industry executives. What they saw was a 16-minute film, "Stripes of the Tiger," which featured retailers, fashion editors, consumers and some of the designers, all talking about accessories. Some told funny anecdotes, some spoke more seriously.

The film was followed by a runway parade of the designers.

"I think it's the beginning of a big thing for accessories designers, and I hope we can continue to show them off," said Stan Herman, president of the CFDA. "Maybe we'll have to expand it in some way in the future, though."Accessories designer Robert Lee Morris, who co-directed the film and coordinated the event along with handbag designer Carlos Falchi, said a unified theme was the goal for the group's first presentation.

"We wanted to create the effect that accessories as a group are a vital part of the fashion picture," Morris said.

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