ACCESSORIES: A COLORFUL TIME

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Color and vintage-inspired silhouettes are shaping up to be the dominant trends driving many accessories designers’ spring and summer collections.
While the expanded use of color began appearing more frequently in apparel and accessories collections last fall, its depth in assortments, through various materials and fabrics, and the level of sophisticated color combinations is significantly greater for spring. Whether leather or silk, color is a key focus.
Vintage is a bit trickier. The trend is open to a myriad of interpretations, depending on the period, the region of the country and how fashion-forward a store’s customers are. While Seventies references still abound — evidenced by pieces like sleek, clean metal jewelry and low-slung chain or leather belts — the renewed demand for feminine styling has spurred interest in looks from the Roaring Twenties through the Thirties and Forties, which showcased classically female florals, lace and beading.
Every accessory classification is piling on their own versions of these two widespread themes.
“We see vintage as a classic and don’t see that ending anytime soon,” said Lyndsay Levy, partner and co-designer at the jewelry firm Liz Palacios.
Part of the interest in vintage style will come from the movie “Evita.” Levy noted that it will stimulate interest in jewelry from the Twenties and Forties, decades that offered jewelry that is comfortable to wear.
She pointed to lariats and even Y-necklaces as key silhouettes, but stressed that all jewelry will be larger-scale and more ornate than in recent seasons. Real or fake pearls, crystals and colored stones in a range of light blues, purples and greens, are among the materials Levy expects to drive business.
Also important for spring will be barrettes and bracelets, which according to Levy, are the Y-necklace of 1997: “Bracelets are very feminine and look great with sleeveless dresses. As Eva Peron, Madonna also wears a lot of bracelets.”
As for barrettes, Levy singled out large pieces that hold a whole head of hair, “not those Seventies, Marsha Brady styles.”
Color is also expected to drive the sunglasses business, according to Richard Hammel, president of Private Eyes. In addition to its namesake brand of eyewear, the firm produces the licensed Ellen Tracy and Emanuelle Khahn optical and sunglasses collections.
“We’re getting a tremendous response to color, especially with our Ellen Tracy line,” said Hammel. “We’ve introduced about 50 new colors, and the stores really like it — we see it as a leading trend. There hasn’t been color in a while and we have a shade for each apparel trend that’s going on, from pearlized pastels to brights, in clear and opaque color.”
Color is also important in eyewear accessories. From cases to chains, Hammel said many women want to match their accessories with each pair of frames they own and even with their handbags, similar to what they do with small leather goods. Private Eyes has started making chains and cases that coordinate with the frames.
But color isn’t the only focus. Hammel cited strong interest in fashion looks for readers — frames that magnify.
“We also just recently introduced a better line of readers in our Ellen Tracy line,” said Hammel, explaining that the new line appeals to aging baby boomers who now need magnification to read and insist on fashion looks and quality in their readers just like any other product that the generation consumes.
“All of our product is from Europe with lenses made in Austria. With a $65 retail, we can make a much more fashionable look,” Hammel said.
Using color in new fabrics and shapes has been an objective for handbag maker Inge Christopher, according to its president and designer, Inge Hendromartono.
For spring, the line will focus on pastels and sherbet tones, she said, some of which are then treated with metallic washes or embossed.
The practical, pocket-laden daytime line, Nubuck Crocodilo, features a leather treated to feel like nubuck, in such colors as pistachio, oatmeal and peach.
Also in the sherbet tones is a pretty, feminine day-into-evening line, which Hendromartono described as having “Chippendale curves,” some with crystal trimmings.
Scheduled to make its debut at WWDMagic is an extended version of animal prints.
“After having such great success with leopard prints, we wanted to do something different and have designed a peacock print in Italian fabric for evening bags. It has crystal trim and a slight metallic finish in silver, gold or bronze,” she said.
The company will continue with its signature metallic soft leathers, but has added more texture for spring. Hendromartono said the leather now has an embossed African cobra pattern. She described the line’s new metallic finish as soft, not glaring. The shapes, however, are more sculpted. Colors include almond with a gold-wash effect, brown with a bronze metallic wash and black with a pewter wash.
The Inge Sport line includes a group called Coconut Button — leather covered with coconut shell buttons on the front and back panels of bags in black, brown and pecan.
A second group uses soft basketweave leather from Italy in casual shapes, including totes and buckets.
“Color has traditionally been stronger on the West Coast, but now it’s happening everywhere,” said Theresa Barone, national sales manager for Marketing Australian Products, the firm that represents hat makers Helen Kaminski and Annabel Ingall, as well as Peter Alexander unisex pajamas and slippers.
For Kaminski, Barone said the straw portion of the line includes hats in such hues as chartreuse, terra-cotta, chocolate, natural and black. Except for chartreuse, the range of color is being repeated in the line’s casual straw handbags.
More neutral shades prevail for Annabel Ingall, Barone said. Her paper straw hats will offer natural, black, tobacco and cocoa.

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