By  on February 13, 2006

PARIS — Sophistication was the buzzword at the Premiere Classe and Eclat de Mode trade shows here, where gold, fur, leather and ethnic accessories were the focal point for buyers.

The events ended their four-day runs at the Porte de Versailles halls here Feb. 5. Exhibitors detected a drop in traffic, but cited good order writing, with business coming mainly from independent boutique owners from Europe and Japan. Participants also noted a low U.S. turnout, with American buyers expected to attend the Premiere Classe salon in Paris' Jardin des Tuileries March 3-6 in tandem with the runway shows.

Premiere Classe reported 13,100 visitors to its show, about 20 percent fewer than a year ago. Organizers attributed the drop partly to certain visitors having registered at the neighboring Who's Next urbanwear and sportswear salon, which enabled them access to Premiere Classe. At Eclat de Mode, attendance remained stable with 10,756 visitors, down 3 percent from last year.

Chain-style jewelry in gold tones was a hot commodity. Paris-based designer Aris Geldis, for example, exhibiting antique-gold chain necklaces set with chunky stones, said an estimated 70 percent of orders came from new clients, including British department store House of Fraser.

"The whole handicraft thing is totally over," said Cat Beech, jewelry buyer for British fast-fashion chain Oasis. "For next season, jewelry is cleaning up and moving on to more metal-based styles mixed with elements of resin, plastic and chain. We're looking for new shapes and profiles. We're thinking long and slinky."

However, some buyers lamented a lack of novelty.

"We found product beautifully crafted but outdated," said jewelry importer Stephan Rubin, whose firm, Stephan & Co., distributes to American stores such as Bloomingdale's and Urban Outfitters. "I usually come to Europe for inspiration, but all of the styles I've seen here have already been done."

Still, Rubin hailed hammered brass necklaces from French brand Van der Straeten as the right direction for next season, when he predicts women will seek unusual metal jewelry.

"Mixed-media styles with symbolic trinkets, such as crosses or Fatima's hands, will also be sought after," said Rubin.

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