GLAM AND GRITTY STAR AT PREMIERE CLASSE

Byline: Robert Murphy

PARIS — A range of trends — from hard-edged punk looks to colorful Hawaiian themes — inspired order writing at Premiere Classe, held in tents in the Tuileries Gardens.
The accessories showcase, which closed March 6 after a four-day run, featured diverse items, from neo-Baroque jewelry to 24-karat gold glam pieces.
Most exhibitors said business at the fair, which came on the heels of Paris’s fashion week, had been brisk. They said Japanese and American buyers showed the most interest in fall looks.
Betony Vernon, an American jeweler based in Milan, featured a collection that integrated elements of the past with a modern sensibility for unusual detail.
For example, hand-painted porcelain set in silver depicted the four basic elements: earth, fire, wind and water. They were also worked into rings and earrings. A multi-pendant silver necklace featured 23 porcelain discs painted with symbols corresponding to the main religions of the world.
“I like drawing on the past for inspiration,” said Vernon, who also showed silver rings with globes cast in gold that could spin on an axis within the setting.
There were blown-glass pendants filled with water that contained what Vernon called “relics,” ranging from semiprecious stones to keys. Retail prices ran from $275 for a silver ring with a porcelain inset to $525 for a silver ring topped with a glass magnifying box in which trinkets could be stored.
Another Italian jeweler, Nilaja Gioielli, used silver settings to accent decorative elements. Small ceramic or glass mosaics sat in circular settings on rings that wholesaled for $36.
On the punk side, London firm Tateossian used vibrant colors in python chokers and bracelets.
“Python is strong for next season,” said Robert Tateossian, president, “but it must be in bright colors.”
Jewelry designer Irina Volkonskii, a Russian based in Paris and an assistant in the studio of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, took traditionally feminine elements like rhinestones and juxtaposed them with steel handcuffs for a punk twist. She also indulged her playful side with bracelets decorated with small, ready-made plastic dolls. One of Volkonskii’s bestsellers was a line of necklaces adorned with a single feather dyed in bright colors, including orange, purple and blue.
“Business has been strong,” said Volkonskii. “I’ve had a lot of orders from Japanese clients.”
On the more feminine side was American designer Asia Leong, who is based in the south of France. Leong featured 24-karat gold necklaces, wholesaling between $85 and $150, with thin stands of beaded glass snaking down to midchest.
“Buyers are looking for color,” said Leong, whose collection highlighted turquoise and other blue stones.
Jerome Gruet, a Paris handbag designer, showcased brightly colored Hawaiian-print sacks in simple geometric silhouettes with leather or metal handles that wholesaled for $57 to $64.
New York jewelry firm Sead picked up on the tropical theme with necklaces and bracelets composed of bright feathers and wood beads from the Amazon rain forest.
Swinging to the other side of the fashion pendulum was London milliner Emma Fielden, who showed a collection that included cowboy hats and trilbies. Fielden, whose line retails from $300 to $1,200, added a feminine touch by using pink and amber.
Organizers of the fair were unable to provide attendance statistics for Premiere Classe because the numbers are combined with attendance at its sister show, Paris sur Mode. Together, the shows drew 14,500 visitors, a 23 percent increase over last year. French buyers accounted for 43 percent of that figure, with the rest coming from abroad, including 27 percent from Japan, 17 percent from Italy and 9 percent from the U.S.

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