NEW YORK — Visitors to fashion week here might have had to squint to pick out the accessories on the runways for spring 2006.
After the last two seasons' strong showings of chunky jewelry, statement bags, belts, sunglasses, legwear and other accoutrements, often heavily embellished or layered for a bold effect, designers were lowering the volume.
"We're not seeing incredibly strong accessories on the runways this season," said Michael Fink, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. "It's all about the clothes this season. It's a very toned-down mood. Designers are stripping away the looks."
Brian Bolke, co-owner of Forty Five Ten in Dallas, agreed: "There is a lot of couture handiwork details on the clothes this season, and the accessories shouldn't take away from all that work."
Retailers, however, weren't citing worries about the accessories market going forward.
"We are growing out of boho and the excesses of accessories," said Ilaria Urbinati, a buyer for Milk, a designer boutique set to open in Los Angeles this fall. "It's cleaner and less cluttered, but it doesn't mean that accessories are going to go away. Women have become too obsessed with them."
Sarah Easley, co-owner of Kirna Zabête, said the specialty store is selling more accessories than it ever did before, and she doesn't anticipate that this will change, based on what she observed during the collections.
"If you look back on spring 2005, there was that mad frenzy for accessories, and especially jewelry," she said. "That trend seems to have passed. But I don't think the runway is any less about the accessories. Although we didn't necessarily find a consistent theme, there were accessories to look at, and that is a reflection of what is happening at retail."
Robert Burke, senior vice president of fashion for Bergdorf Goodman, said showing the most important accessories took precedence on the New York runways.
"It has to be the right ring or the right bracelet," Burke said.
While single large rings made an appearance at the Michael Kors show and designers such as Kenneth Cole showed chunky nautical-chain effects in plastic necklaces and bracelets, delicate pieces with personal charms discreetly entered into the fray. Alice Roi showed piety with models in whisper-thin cross necklaces, while Marc Jacobs sent each of the looks down the catwalk accessorized with Bing Bang Jewelry chain necklaces from which dangled good-luck symbols.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"