By  on December 26, 2006

LOS ANGELES — CC Skye, whose woven leather chain bracelet is virtually a one-item mint at Kitson, has a lament many designers would envy — she is consistently a step ahead of trends.

That also puts her a step ahead of the customer. Skye is trying to rein in the tendency to speed on to the next thing at her two-year-old namesake accessories company. Although she's itching to bust out with silver, shoppers keep eyeing gold.

"We are always looking ahead as a brand,'' she said. "We are like, get it, then we are over it."

Now she's pushing into more luxurious jewelry, and her first handbag collection, launching for spring, will offer relief from feverish trend cycles. CC Skye purses are hitting luxury notes — they retail for around $800 — and are meant to be wardrobe staples rather than single-season hits.

"The jewelry will be a little bit more forward, elegant and edgy, but the handbags will always be elegant because I don't know if you want an edgy handbag," Skye said. "I prefer the higher-end because it is a statement, and we live in cities where people make statements with their bags."

Skye, 30, is kicking off her handbag line with three styles: a signature slouchy rectangular Skye bag, an alligator embossed clutch and a Brookie she describes as a hobo with a chain. The look of the purses is not a clear departure from CC Skye jewelry. The clutch comes with a cuff, the Skye bag is made with two removable bracelets and the Brookie is decorated with a skull.

"Those bracelets were so successful that she ran with her hits and transformed them into another commodity, which is smart," said Kitson owner Fraser Ross. But he cautioned that, in a marketplace where a must-have item quickly becomes yesterday's news, "your fuel lasts very little because hits are knocked off."

Ross has seen widespread copying of CC Skye designs, which he in turn said benefited from similarities to a vintage Chanel bracelet Nicole Richie was pictured wearing. Skye said knockoffs have not been a severe problem. Even the notion of them suggests she has built a recognizable brand, she said."People will call up and ask, ‘Is this authentic CC Skye or is this a knockoff?' That puts us at handbag level," said Skye, who added that all those with doubts had bought real CC Skye merchandise.

In addition to Kitson, Fred Segal and Harvey Nichols are among the 70 stores so far that have written orders for CC Skye handbags. Jewelry is carried in about 700 stores, generating $2.5 million in 2006 sales for CC Skye. Skye expects to double that figure in 2007 and would also like to add home decor to her expanding portfolio.

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