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Findings: Morris On the Move … Winning Ways … Oroton Selects Somers

<CS:BOLD></CS><STRONG>MORRIS ON THE MOVE:</STRONG> Although he closed his Artwear store and gallery this month, Robert Lee Morris plans to continue promoting accessories industry talent.<BR><BR>"A lot of people in the industry have had a very...

MORRIS ON THE MOVE: Although he closed his Artwear store and gallery this month, Robert Lee Morris plans to continue promoting accessories industry talent.

“A lot of people in the industry have had a very difficult time coming to terms with the closing and, ultimately, I ended up giving everyone a pep talk and telling them that it was a positive step for me,” said Morris, who had operated Artwear — a venue for up-and-coming jewelry designers — from 1977 until its closing, Jan. 9.

Morris continues to operate his signature New York boutique at 409 West Broadway, near the Artwear site, and has projects such as accessories licensing agreements on his agenda. But he is also staying involved in boosting public awareness of accessories designers, this time in a project for the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Morris is producing the CFDA’s first accessories resource book, a guide that will include information and merchandise shots from the 40 accessories members of the organization, who are funding the book.

“We’re hoping something like this will bring national awareness to some of the real hidden talents we have in the CFDA, accessories designers who may not have such high profiles outside New York,” said Morris.

Morris credited handbag designer Carlos Falchi as being instrumental in coordinating activities such as the book and also an accessories trend presentation that will be shown April 10 at the Josephine Pavilion in Bryant Park as part of the New York fall collections.

“Carlos is one of the members who has always been active in rallying the efforts of the accessories designers,” Morris explained. “When the idea for the resource book came up, I kind of got recruited.”

WINNING WAYS: Two trendsetting designers, Isaac Mizrahi and Judith Leiber, are receiving much recognition this year as leaders in the accessories field.

Mizrahi is being lauded for his footwear by the Italian Trade Commission and the Italian Footwear Manufacturers Association, which have jointly named him the designer recipient of the 1994 Michelangelo Shoe Award. The sportswear designer is relatively new to footwear, having launched his line only last November.

Mizrahi, along with such award-winners as dancer and choreographer Tommy Tune, will be feted at the Michelangelo Awards ceremony Feb. 1 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In November, Leiber will be recognized by the Fashion Institute of Technology, which will present a 30-year retrospective of her designs. Some of the nearly 3,000 designs she created during her three decades in business will be on view.”To be able to see many of these favorites together should be fun,” she said. As reported, Leiber will also receive the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at that organization’s annual gala next month in New York. “I’ve been lucky to have received honors from other organizations in the past,” Leiber said. “But the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award is very special.”

Leiber had pulled out of the CFDA in 1992, the year Karl Lagerfeld was given the accessories award for his Chanel collections. At that time, she said she felt the organization didn’t do enough to recognize American accessories designers. She has since rejoined the CFDA, but declined to say exactly when she did so.

OROTON SELECTS SOMERS: Oroton U.S., a division of Australian handbag firm Oroton International, has named Steven Somers president and chief executive officer.

Somers started with the company, which has its U.S. headquarters in New York, on Friday. The post of president had been vacant for more than a year, and Stephen Callister, managing director of the parent company, had been overseeing U.S. operations.

Somers was group vice president of Crazy Horse and Villager, both divisions of Liz Claiborne. Prior to that, he had been at Federated Department Stores for 18 years, and held several posts including chairman and ceo of I. Magnin, before leaving in 1987.

Oroton’s 1993 worldwide volume for the fiscal year that ended last June came to about $75 million. It is the licensee for the Anne Klein, Oscar de la Renta and Pringle of Scotland handbag lines, and also produces its own Oroton, Fiorelli and Ken Done brands.