MARKET UPDATE: NEW SHOWROOMS
Byline: HOLLY HABER / RUSTY WILLIAMSON
FLOWER MOUND, Tex. — Less is really more for fashion jewelry designer Vicki Johnson. Small and delicate whisper jewelry, which has ignited the fashion jewelry scene for several seasons now, is Johnson’s forte. This year sales are planned at $100,000, up 20 percent.
“Small styles will stay around,” said Johnson. “It hasn’t peaked. Many of the smaller specialty stores are just now getting to it. They had thought of it as something just for juniors or little girls.”
At market, lighter-colored stones such as peridot, blue topaz and citrine will star in the summer collection, strung on Johnson’s signature delicate sterling chains.
Wholesale prices for the 40-piece collection are $13 for simple sterling earrings to $85 for a sterling necklace with a thicker chain and larger stone.
Though small styles still reign, Johnson said she’s looking ahead and experimenting with slightly larger shapes to gauge stores’ responses.
“I’m also showing some medium-size things in January to see if people are ready,” she explained. “But for me, medium is still kind of small. My look is simple and uncluttered — these silhouettes can look basic or be dressed up.”
Johnson, who studied jewelry making at the University of North Texas at Denton, near Dallas, does all the metalsmithing in her line and may begin making her own chains.
To hone her craft, she travels the country and studies jewelry making from artisans and at various schools.
In business nearly three years, Johnson counts as clients about 25 specialty stores across the country, including The Cricket Clothing Co. in Boise, Idaho, and Billings, Mont., and By George in Austin, Tex.
Johnson only shows her styles in Dallas now, at NEW Associates in 4G70, but has tentative plans to expand to New York and Los Angeles later this year.
RANI & KATHY GIFTS & ACCESSORIES
DALLAS — Looking for some new accessories or gifts? A slew of attractive lines, most of which have not been shown before in Dallas, is the lure at Rani & Kathy Gifts & Accessories, a division of veteran apparel sales firm John Flahavin & Associates.
“The concept is based on what so many of the ready-to-wear stores are now doing, and that is to offer not only accessories but gifts that are easy counter items,” Kathy Flahavin explained.
Among the showroom’s chicest lines is Tahkohl jewelry, a sterling and Swarovski crystal line out of Chicago that wholesales from about $32 to $75.
Rani & Kathy’s top line since opening in October has been Peyote Bird jewelry. The longtime Santa Fe, N.M., jewelry collection has been updated considerably in its styling and now offers lower price points starting at $12.
Also worth checking out are Benson & Ashley sunglasses. Made in Italy and the United Kingdom, these fashion sunglasses are styled with a variety of frames, from antique metal to tortoiseshell, and priced from $39 to $65.
The showroom claims a prime location in room 4G56 on the back escalator lobby of the International Apparel Mart. And it boasts the expertise of its two managing partners — Rani Spaulding and Kathy Flahavin. Spaulding formerly managed sales at Medalias by Foree Hunsicker for five years, and Flahavin has worked for seven years running the Group III apparel showroom for her father, John Flahavin.
“We wanted to do things that were very easy and could fit into a variety of stores — apparel, accessories, gifts, hotel stores,” Spaulding explained. “We wanted people to be able to buy in depth.”
The room’s other accessories lines include Kerri Linden Designs delicate jewelry; CF Designs sterling, pearl and semiprecious stone jewelry; Aura Accessories headbands and pouch purses, and Chapeau Creations hats.
It also offers handmade tank tops and bodysuits by Oliviere-Oliviere and ribbon-trimmed Lycra tops by Feri Mazon.
Gift collections include: Nina M. Designs handmade paper cards and photo albums; Dig Gifts beeswax candles and Petal Perfection freeze-dried flowers, potpourri and bath products.
DALLAS — Veteran sales representatives Butch Plott and his wife, Hope Navia, have joined together to form a showroom of dresses and sportswear with a young feeling. Called Navia Plott, it’s in room 4327 of the International Apparel Mart.
“The focus is on lifestyle and casual clothing,” Plott explained. “We’re trying to gear our apparel for the career lady. It’s mostly better price-sensitive clothing.”
Forwear casual related separates in cotton, rayon and linen has been Navia Plott’s leading sportswear line since the showroom opened in October.
Other sportswear collections in the showroom include Wear Ever, Liberty & Justice, Jennifer Wong, Tropical Tantrum and Ecolution. Most of the sportswear wholesales from $20 to $70.
August Silk Dresses is the top resource among the dress lines, which typically sell for $49 to $99. Rounding out the dress mix are Steven Stolman, Tabloid and Nicole Studio.
The showroom also ventures into bridge pricing with special occasion dresses and suits by Deborah Bohandy and Chancelle.
Before this venture, Navia had operated her own eponymous showroom for 12 years, and Plott had been with Jim Quist & Associates for 10 years, most recently as sales manager.
DALLAS — It takes more than style to be a fashion icon, says Patty Fox.
“You have to be able to look at yourself in the third person. It’s one of the things I tell people: ‘When you’re developing a style, photograph it, Poloroid it and check yourself out.’ That’s what the legends did — they saw themselves,” says Fox.
Fox is something of an expert on fashion legends. A fashion adviser to the Academy Awards for the past five years, she has just published “Star Style” (Angel City Press), a look at 10 Hollywood actresses whom Fox considers fashion icons. She previously had been Saks Fifth Avenue’s regional fashion director in Beverly Hills for 15 years.
Fox chatted here over afternoon tea during her 14-city tour promoting “Star Style.”
“The premise was to select 10 women who did direct their own image, who were not just studio creations,” Fox explains. “I wanted to find people who had a unique way of looking at themselves. That’s what Gloria Swanson did. All of her accessories were gigantic, and lots of them. Here she was tiny, she had little wrists and she wore her entire bracelet collection on her arm.”
In addition to Swanson, actresses who made Fox’s final cut include: Joan Crawford, Dolores Del Rio, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn.
Why no contemporary women? “The actresses of today, even though some of them show interest as far as their image, they have not had the longevity,” Fox explains. “With every name I thought about the subtitle, ‘Hollywood Legends as Fashion Icons,’ and I thought, ‘Is this person a legend? Is this person a fashion icon?”‘
Fox was careful to select women who represented a variety of styles — and attitudes.
Joan Crawford may be famous for her hatred of wire hangers, but that pales besides Fox’s description of her obsession with clothes. Crawford felt items in her wardrobe were like people, and called them her “friends.” She individually wrapped all her clothing, accessories and shoes in plastic and stored them in five closets.
“Joan Crawford was so rigid,” Fox observes. “She traveled with 35 trunks, as well as a trunk for her diamonds.”
A polar opposite is Katharine Hepburn. “She’d been on the record so many times as saying that clothing wasn’t important to her,” Fox points out. “Then it dawned on me that she used clothing as a tool. Think how smart she was. Here you have the other young actresses probably spending everything they made on wardrobe, and she got more attention by wearing her father’s hand-me-downs or clothes with holes in them or with a safety pin showing.”
Fox devoted five years to research, including interviewing everyone from designers, producers and daughters to fans.
“Not until I met Gloria Swanson’s daughter did I find out that she [Swanson] was 5 foot 1,” Fox recalled. “She told her daughter that she had no neck, her head was basically sitting on her shoulder. So what does she do? She always wore big cowls.”
The actress was taught just as diligently about fashion by her own mother, Fox points out. “Gloria Swanson’s mother always said, ‘Be unique.’ That was instilled from day one, even to the point where when little Gloria Swanson went to school and wanted mary jane shoes, her mother would not get them because every other child had them. Her mother would make her clothes for her. When someone admired her [Gloria’s] hat and asked her where she got it, she would feign that she didn’t know. Her mother raised her very early on to keep your unique qualities to yourself.”
Fox even trekked to Marilyn Monroe’s grave on the star’s birthday to talk to fans. “Sure enough I met a diverse group — several men both gay and straight and several college girls who had actually bought a birthday cake,” Fox recalls.
Fox sees glamour returning to Hollywood and points to Sharon Stone and Wynona Ryder as potential trendsetters. Still, she’d like to see more couture at the Academy Awards.
HOT CARS, HIGH FASHION, COOL STUFF
DALLAS — What better way to review the 20th century than by examining some of the chicest fashion, automobiles and decorative arts created during the period?
That’s the project under way at the Dallas Museum of Art, which plans to exhibit “Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff: Designs of the 20th Century” March 31 to July 14.
“We’re going to show a wide variety of things from clothing to teapots to streamlined vacuum cleaners, as well as painting and fine arts that are design oriented,” explained Charles Venable, chief curator of the DMA. “The real key for us is to keep this from looking like a grand garage sale. To prevent us all from putting it on a timeline and embalming it in little cases, we’ve hired a stylist, Alvin Colt, who has worked in New York forever doing Broadway costume and set design.”
Among Colt’s ideas: creating a scene from a Fifties black-and-white ball with a party of mannequins resplendent in gowns by Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain.
The University of North Texas in Denton, Tex., is lending about 20 styles for the exhibit from its extensive Texas Fashion Collection. The DMA will also draw on its own sizable collection of silver, glass, ceramics, textiles and furniture.
The show will concentrate on style from 1925 to 1975. Explained Venable, “Nineteen hundred to 1925 is so remote from the average person, and 1975 to today is so familiar that there is no point because it’s so common.”
Venable said he hopes to recruit a leading fashion designer to create a dress of the year 2000. He also hopes a car manufacturer will lend the DMA a concept car for the new millennium.
“It’s going to be really fun because we have the space and time not just to put a mannequin on a platform,” Venable enthused. “We will really animate this show.”