NEW YORK -- With simplicity emerging as a key fashion trend for the Nineties, accessories are starting to look like the industry's biggest casualty.
The underaccessorized look may have not actually cut into overall accessories volume. However, after several seasons of runway shows and fashion magazine spreads nearly devoid of jewelry, belts, gloves and other accoutrements, many in the accessories business are bristling.
For some, the final straw came when Karl Lagerfeld -- last decade's champion of the piled-on approach to accessorization -- took a dramatically more sparse route for Chanel's recent spring couture show.
"When someone like Lagerfeld, who did so much for accessories with Chanel just a few years ago, starts going minimal and showing little or nothing, it looks ridiculous," said accessories designer Robert Lee Morris.
"Not only is it bad for our industry, but it also makes total fashion victims out of people, like they're being dictated to by designers and can't decide for themselves whether to load accessories on or go completely without, Morris added."
The unadorned look, most agree, stems from a backlash reaction to Eighties excess. But as accessories designer Barry Kieselstein Cord noted, downplaying ostentation in this way can end up backfiring.
"The whole idea of paring down is getting away from a look that screams money, but when someone is wearing a clean and simple Armani suit, even without one piece of jewelry, she's still basically announcing that she spent thousands of dollars on her clothes," Kieselstein Cord said.
"The concept behind accessories is that a woman can use them to update the clothes she already has, instead of having to go and buy all new clothes," he added. "But again, what this trend is saying is that women have to buy twice as many clothes instead of accessorizing. I think the whole thing is absurd."
Some, such as jewelry designer Gerard Yosca, tie the trend to tough times in the fashion industry.
"As far as ready-to-wear designers go, I think their business is so difficult right now that they don't even have time to think about accessories," Yosca said. "And fashion magazines that are looking to stir up interest by giving their stories a new look often start leaving out accessories."
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