By  on December 5, 2005

PARIS — Designer accessories aren't getting any cheaper for spring and summer.

But as price tags for the season's most luxurious offerings continue to skyrocket, a crop of more affordable options is emerging.

For example, well-heeled Louis Vuitton fanatics can splurge on its new Patchwork bag at 14,000 euros, or around $16,000, while more frugal shoppers can take home an Antigua canvas shopper for 400 to 500 euros, or around $470 to $600. (Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange.)

The high-low pricing system is not just confined to handbags. It will be found across accessories categories, including fine jewelry, in the months ahead.

"What is really new is that jewelry houses are introducing line extensions to coax younger generations that they can then lead into the luxury market," said Catherine Newey, accessories and luxury market director for French department store Printemps.

Newey is referring to a new wave of fine jewelry lines that are easier on the wallet, such as Chanel's Matelassée, Chaumet's Liens, Boucheron's Symbolique and Pomellato's Dodo collections.

"Communication strategies have also turned toward a much younger clientele, with houses employing younger muses, such as Chanel with Vanessa Paradis," she said.

Watches are also mentioned as a rising category, with Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Gucci all delivering strong new fashion products decorated with designs that echo their main collections.

"There's a strong trend for houses to release matching accessory designs applied to products at different accessibility points," said Newey. "An item such as a watch is much more accessible than a bag."

Still, some designer handbags are increasingly within reach. Among the recent barrage of entry-level propositions are Celine's Lili range, featuring bags that retail at 390 to 540 euros, or $460 to $640, and Christian Dior's new Dior Vintage Traveler line, priced at 670 euros, or $790 — peanuts compared with Dior's coveted crocodile Detective that goes for a flush-inducing 23,000 euros, or around $27,000.

Certain brands and retailers are going for gold, however, sticking to the big-dollar league. Balenciaga's classic, The First, comes dressed in crocodile for spring for 8,975 euros, or roughly $10,000, and the new The Hook bag retails at 875 euros, or $1,000, for a small silk version to 1,135 euros, or $1,340, for the largest style.

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