SHOWS RAISE HOPES FOR STRONG SPRING

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — As retailers and accessories makers come off a week of runway shows here and head into accessories market week, expectations are high.
Accessories — especially jewelry — turned up at more shows this time around and were given a pivotal role by some major players.
Among the looks that surfaced:
Bracelets, ranging from narrow pieces worn alone or in a pile to large cuffs. Upper-arm bracelets, many with a snake motif, were particularly strong.
Large rings, in metal or with stones.
Hoop earrings from merely oversized to huge.
Floral handbags, in printed cottons, satins or delicately beaded.
Oversized crochet scarves or small neckerchiefs.
Lariat necklaces in metal or beads, worn forward or backward.
Ralph Lauren was the highlight of the week for some accessories executives.
“Ralph Lauren set the record straight about how important accessories are,” said Gail Pisano, senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue. “It was so refreshing to see jewelry complementing the clothes. From belts to earrings to necklaces, it all added a really special touch. It is clear that he certainly believes in accessories. He reinforced a lot of what we’ve been saying about how accessories add to, rather than detract from, the clothes. We’re really happy campers over here!”
The pairing of romantic with modern looks stood out by midweek for Neiman Marcus.
“The one common thread at many of the shows thus far is how modern and geometric items can be either modern or romantic,” said Sandra Wilson, fashion director for accessories, citing large, thin hoop earrings, chain belts and wire collars as examples.
With market week coming a week after the collections instead of simultaneously, as it often does, some major showroom representatives here have been attending shows and are taking advantage of the extra lead time to tweak their assortments to complement the trends they saw at the 7th on Sixth shows.
Overall, specific areas of interest are bangles and cuff bracelets in silver and gold, hoop or shoulder-duster earrings and bold rings. More generally, florals, straws and beading are expected to be key elements for scarves, handbags, hats and hair accessories.
Most reps said some stores already had been in and were eager to get immediate deliveries on some items.
“From the early shopping we’ve had in the last two weeks, we expect our sell-ins to be pretty good,” said Dayne DuVall, a co-owner of Notanonymous. “Buyers are looking for immediates on anything that’s different. I haven’t been this excited going into a market in a long time. It’s only been about merchandising for so long, but now there’s no one trend, so each line can really focus on its individual look more.”
DuVall said his designers are adding rings and bracelets to their lines, and the showroom will highlight sculpted metal pieces or long, lean looks in beads or snake chains for jewelry. The focus also will be on handbags in fruit or flower prints in faille or satin, in tote styles and smaller beaded versions.
Last-minute additions from Fragments co-owner Janet Goldman are large fake or real pearls; organic-looking stones in colors like celadon, rose quartz and jade; bangles, and gold bracelets. These ideas are expected to work with a variety of trends, from Far Eastern to modern.
At Cynthia O’Connor, color already is turning out to be strong for spring, said O’Connor, owner of the showroom bearing her name. She said two primary palettes are emerging: bright shades of green, orange and yellow, and soft sherbet hues of pink, lilac and pale yellow.
Also strong early on are pique, madras and denim — fabrications crossing several classifications — leather and sterling silver jewelry with a spiritual feeling, colored straw handbags and neckerchief scarves.
Scarves and jewelry are key areas for Apropo, according to owner Uri Alter, who noted that unlike a year ago, when the Y-necklace drove business, there really isn’t just one trend now.
“The biggest message is that fashion is everywhere, from high tech stainless steel and aluminum looks to romantic laces and velvets to the American Fifties,” said Alter.
Scarf trends include Indian or Asian embroidered chiffons, cotton knits and cut velvet, and jewelry ranges from the ethnic and tribal looks at Ralph Lauren to the clean looks inspired by Gucci and Halston.

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