EUROPE’S RUNWAYS BOUY MAKERS

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Accessories makers here have been energized by what they saw on the European designer runways this month.
Amid the much-talked-about demise of minimalism, accessories played a significant role during the ready-to-wear collections, particularly in Paris. (For more on accessories, see pages 18 and 19.)
Whether it’s attributed to a redux of the Belle Epoque or a renewed need for adornment, accessories are definitely back, and the return is being led by accessories’ main man, John Galliano.
In his collection for Christian Dior, there was something for everyone, from flowers and feathers to piles of pearls and faceted stone jewels.
“John Galliano has always been an accessorizer,” said Karen Erickson, a partner in the costume jewelry firm Erickson Beamon. “I think the difference now is that I definitely think people are taking accessories very seriously.”
Sometimes, the presentations were over the top, designers here said, but they felt there were plenty of references to draw from and to adapt for retail selling floors.
Jay Feinberg, designer and president of Jay Strongwater, a costume jewelry firm, said the effect is already felt at retail.
“In the last week alone, we’ve sold six or seven of our largest, multistrand, faceted crystal bead bib necklaces,” Feinberg said.
Color also has been attracting business at retail, he said, and gold and topaz are leading the way, followed by red and jet.
“[The look] is not as flashy as in the Eighties, but much more artisan looking. It’s not about shine and status, but more about unusual pieces, and bringing the artist’s eye to accessories,” he said.
Feinberg said that while sometimes the accessories may have looked overabundant at the shows, it was important to drive home the point.
“I think [the rtw shows] were a continuation of couture, where our eyes started getting used to seeing accessories again on the runways.
“I hope the momentum from Paris will flow over into the collections here, although New York tends to be more minimal in presentation. I think we’ve pushed minimalism as far as we can go,” Feinberg said.
In addition to her duties as a partner in Erickson Beamon, Karen Erickson also will produce accessories for the runway presentations here of Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam and Nicole Miller. “I think what we saw in Paris will affect the collections here,” said Erickson. “Designers want important, extravagant and expensive pieces now. Less is not more anymore.”
While she declined to give any hints about what to expect at the shows she is accessorizing, she did say, “We’re making very dramatic things for the runway, and the organic feeling that was in Europe is here as well, in things like seashells and flowers. There’s a bright influence in colors, but naturals and neutrals are important too.”
Grosse Jewels, Dior’s costume jewelry licensee, is building on the excitement about Galliano’s collections for Dior by launching a new line called The Runway Collection, according to Claire Kellam, executive vice president of Grosse.
The line of roughly 15 sku’s features jewelry adapted from the Paris rtw show, and includes huge collars, chokers and bib necklaces, and opulent drop earrings. Many of the pieces are meant to be piled on together.
“What’s so thrilling is that every look from the show has a million ideas that relate to jewelry,” said Kellam. “We’re using blackened metal that has the look of 19th-century silver and is encrusted with crystals.”
The Runway Collection will make its debut at Bloomingdale’s and in the Christian Dior boutique here by Thanksgiving. Later in the holiday season, selected retailers around the country will be added, Kellam said.
Retail prices will range from $275 to $2,250.
Milliner Eric Javits said he believes the increased volume of accessories on the runways will boost sales at retail.
“It’s definitely inspiring and uplifting and just fun,” he said. “The merchandise is always there in the stores, but now I think women will be more open about trying new accessories looks.”
He said hats will probably gain momentum as a result of their presence in the shows.
“I think we’re going to be hauling in new customers: fashion-inspired types, as well as those that buy hats for function,” Javits said. “I also think the idea of femininity and clean shapes is important, where the detail and ornamentation come through in the fabric and texture in hats.
“The nautical and pirate themes will translate into striped effects, which are fun to wear in hats.”

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