By  on September 13, 2005

PARIS — The focus was clearly on ethnic trends at the Premiere Classe and Bijorhca accessories trade shows that ended their four-day runs at the Porte de Versailles halls here Sept. 5.

African-inspired jewelry and bags were a continuing trend, while a more subdued direction for spring-summer 2006 was apparent.

Many retailers shopping the shows said they had increased their budgets year-on-year, though mostly in single-digit percentages.

Thibault De Chazal, shopping for jewelry and scarves for seven Chanille-owned boutiques across the U.S. Northeast, said an economically tough year would mean trimming his open-to-buy. He said the dollar strengthening against the euro should help his business.

Attendance at the Premiere Classe show was up 33 percent compared with last year, with 10,800 visitors, 52 percent of whom came from France. At Bijorhca, 11,822 people attended — up 20 percent over last year. Sixty-six percent of the visitors were international and 34 percent French.

In jewelry, the trend for long necklaces is set to continue for summer 2006. But pom-pom and larger spherical beaded necklaces, already hot sellers this season, have replaced last summer's oblong shapes.

Pom-pom necklaces — and woolen scarves — at French brand Sophie Digard caught the attention of Debbie Weitz, shopping for B.D. Jeffries, with two Atlanta-based stores and a catalogue.

Necklaces, bracelets, earrings and key rings adorned with pom-poms were among the best-selling items at London-based Mikey Jewelry, which was showing at the Bijorhca fair.

"The collection is Russian themed," said owner and creative director Michael Waterman, who added Paris-based Le Bon Marché department store to the company's account portfolio.

This fall's furry pom-pom necklaces, which were worn by some buyers as they browsed the aisles, have been reinvented for spring and summer 2006 with lighter, felted, wooden or embroidered touches.

"There are lots of patterns and colors and new textures," said newcomer Chen Aruru, buying for Idee women's department stores in Taiwan.

Many buyers also were snapping up fur in necklaces, earmuffs and scarves for more immediate delivery.

Meanwhile, there was a continuing trend for large wraps and capes, said Sue Shields, soft accessories buyer for Harrods department store in London."There is a general move away from the overaccessorized image with a cleaner line emerging as the new shape," she said.

Shields added, however, that the bohemian look will not disappear altogether, and accessories are to remain a key element of spring-summer trends.

That was good news for Los Angeles-based boutique owner Hadar Lorenzo, who was browsing Premiere Classe for his four H. Lorenzo stores. He said the peasant trend has ensured accessories remain a hit.

"Business is booming in L.A. right now. It's all about accessories," he said after placing an order for hand-woven bags at Cyprus-based Joanna Louca.

Other fast-moving items at Premiere Classe included handcrafted and studded leather belts at London-based Enshallah, which produces in Marrakesh.

"It's been a fantastic show. We've picked up some good accounts," said designer Diana Irani Gressier of London-based Blank, listing glass-bead belts, silk-blend scarves and sheepskin bags adorned with beads as among the company's bestsellers.

The team at Jean Paul Gaultier, exhibiting for its second time at Premiere Classe, said many people do not realize the designer has a jewelry collection and that his line was well received by buyers, particularly from northern Europe. Gaultier's custom jewelry ranges from 100 euros, or $123 at current exchange, to 3,000 euros, or $3,685.

"Jewelry is an interesting market," said Gaultier's area manager, Cecile Bouvier. "You can position the brand at different levels."

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