VARIETY SPARKS RUNWAYS

Byline: Karen Parr

NEW YORK — Accessories spanned the style gamut on the runway last week, much like the ready-to-wear. However, some themes stood out, such as the belts, silver tones and beads.
Again and again the waify waists of models were cinched by belts of all shapes and sizes — wide, narrow, tight and loose.
And this go-round it was silver that emerged as the overarching trend in jewelry, in addition to beads piled in strands around the neck.
Other catwalk directions included:
Metal mesh in belts and in necklaces.
Hair combs.
Feathers on hats.
Chokers.
Cross pendants on necklaces.
The lean dressing of fall, with its slim sweaters and straight skirts, seemed to beg for the belt as a body-conscious accessory.
Cynthia Rowley had skinny belts that wrapped twice around the waist. At Versus, models wore thin leather straps around the waist and across the chest. At Tse cashmere, belts were made of fake fur. Han Feng had ropes tied around her models’ waists. At Gieffeffe, belts were wide and tight. At Mark Eisen, they were black with riveted holes.
Beads were seen in the Mary McFadden collection, with bold crystal, amethyst and amber necklaces from designers McCall Alcantara and Shimon Kahloun. They were also a presence in the shows of Badgley Mischka and Carolina Herrera.
And when it came to silver, Ralph Lauren pulled out the shiniest lining of them all. His models wore narrow leather belts with silver buckles, wide steel and sterling silver belts, big sterling cuffs and flat sterling collars. The shoes? Leather pumps with steel heels. Buffy Birrittella, senior vice president of women’s design and advertising at Ralph Lauren, said the designer got his silver inspiration from several sources.
“In his home collection, he had designed a steel and mesh coffee table,” she said. “And one of the vintage racing cars in his collection was beautiful silver with saddle leather interiors.”
There was also the soft dressing in Lauren’s rtw to provide a luxurious backdrop for such accessories treatments.
“He has always loved the mixture of steel with the brown leather with the gray flannel,” Birrittella said. “It didn’t really come out of his thinking that gold or silver was in. For Ralph, the sterling silver or the steel has a modern edge to it much more so than gold.”
Some showroom owners either attended the shows to get an idea of accessories looks, or heard feedback from retailers who attended the shows and made pit stops in the showrooms.
“I go to the shows to see what the clothes are like so we can match the accessories,” said Uri Alter, co-owner of Apropo, a multiple classification showroom here. Alter was struck by the diversity of the fall collections this time.
“Fashion’s all over the place, so jewelry and accessories should be all over the place,” he said.
Alter also expressed admiration for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s 7th on Sixth Accessory Designer Exhibition at 452 Fifth Avenue, which showcased vignettes of over 40 designers’ fall accessories.
“That was a great outlet,” Alter said. “A big exhibition like that exposes some of the lines and is a beautiful way of showing the work.”
Alter said the exhibition could be used in lieu of a trade show and could be utilized much like the runway shows. “It should be a beautiful show like at the CFDA, and then have the buyers come to your showroom,” Alter said.
“It’s like clothing,” he said. “You don’t buy the clothing on the runway; you go to the showroom and buy it.”
Cynthia O’Connor, who owns the multiple classification showroom Cynthia O’Connor & Co., said some retailers came into the showroom during fashion on the hunt for wide-ranging looks.
“A couple of key people have come in this week, and the thing I’m hearing is newness in velvet,” she said, “with embroidery that also gives that multicultural influence. There’s talk about the red tones, Asian-influence and addressing fur in a new way, like with overdyes.”
O’Connor said the accessories designers look to the runways for direction.
“I think the shows are important,” she said. “The accessories designers look at them for some last-minute guidance or inspiration for May market.”
Karen Erickson, a partner in the accessories line Erickson Beamon and in the multiple classification Showroom 7, talked about the looks she prepared for the shows.
“Betsey Johnson’s was gothic and warrior-like,” she said. “I made lots of tiaras and elaborate crowns with crystal beads and sterling silver crosses.
“For Ghost, it was ivory leather and thorn-shaped bracelets and neck cuffs, as if a rosebush was caught in a snowstorm,” she said.
For Anna Sui, Erickson did the “goth rocker” look. It included angel- and devil-shaped brooches and necklace pendants and tiaras with little horns.
When asked if she felt any of the runway accessory looks would trickle down to the masses, Erickson said, “Who knows?” but added, “I would think that every show is an influence for the next person.”
Janet Goldman, who owns the Fragments multiple classification showroom here, said, “The buzz I’m getting on the shows from the retailers is multistrand long necks, long strands of jet jewelry and colored stones that are mixed, not bright. And oversized stone jewelry and big silver cuffs and breastplate type jewelry — that very modern, primitive type look.”
Goldman said she felt the interest in the belts reflects the body-consciousness of female consumers right now.
“I think fashion follows lifestyle,” she said. “In the fashion market, the woman is disciplined and aware of herself, so if you have the waistline, why not accentuate it?”

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