Byline: Rusty Williamson

Pashmina will be back, for sure — but not alone in the spotlight. Glamorous fur wraps, exotic and expensive small leather goods, dazzling and delicate beaded handbags and sparkling, gypsy-inspired jewelry — all these are among the accessories stars expected to shine bright this holiday.
Last year’s star performer, pashmina, is still important, especially for upscale stores, although consumers are demanding to see new evolutions with the material such as beading, hand painting, and new weave treatments.
More broadly, retailers are so bullish on accessories for the season that they’re forecasting big gains over last fourth quarter, which just happened to include the party of the century. While the bounty heading for stores may evoke Eighties excess, retailers and vendors alike say that all things luxe are being interpreted differently this time around.
“Glitter and status are defined within clean-edged boundaries for holiday,” explained Melissa Geiser, fine accessories buyer at Stanley Korshak, a women’s and men’s designer store in Dallas.
“Silhouettes are sleek and modern and luxurious. Fur wraps are going to be huge. We’ve invested a ton in them and will present them for day and evening. But keep in mind that Dallas women won’t be buying them for layering pieces to keep warm — they’ll be wearing them as a luxury status symbol.”
Korshak also plans to play up hoop and colorful gypsy-inspired earrings, jeweled sunglasses, slinky chain and exotic skin belts, with python and pony styles the most important. The store is planning double-digit holiday accessories sales gains against last year. “The rule in accessories lately has been the more expensive it is, the faster it sells,” said Geiser.
CoCo, a women’s designer store in Nashville, also is planning big comparable sales gains in accessories, said Donna Duensing, buyer.
“The millenium focus last year got people back in the mood to buy lots of accessories for holiday special occasions and gifts. The mood is still holding, and I think we can beat last year’s sales.”
Duensing praised vendors for diversifying the pashmina shawl.
“Designers are delicately beading pashmina shawls and also doing them in burnout velvet. Women love them and will want them in every color.”
CoCo’s accessories department will also be merchandised with gold hoop earrings to complement soft Seventies-inspired blouses, crystal chain belts to ride low on hipster pants, lizard and snakeskin leather goods, and versatile jeweled handbags that can glide from office to cocktail party.
Meanwhile, vendors are finalizing production and making plans to ship merchandise to stores by early fall for holiday selling.
Most retailers like to start receiving holiday goods by September to capture a twofold business — women buying for themselves until around Thanksgiving and consumers shopping for gifts thereafter.
Leather goods designer Carlos Falchi is back on the accessories scene after a nearly four-year absence. Falchi closed his business in 1996 after a legal dispute over a litany of issues. He claims the wranglings are over and is going forward with a new company called Falchi Designs, at which he is the designer. Volume this year is planned at $1.5 million.
Holiday is highlighted by Falchi’s signature mosaic and collage leather artistry. Specific styles are reptile and classic alligator handbags shaped into hobo bags, classic totes and discreet little clutches. There’s also a small group of agendas and address books. Retail prices are about $125 to $2,000.
Holiday’s big emphasis on fur accessories is just fine with the folks at I Isabella Italia, an Italian vendor that is charming retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus with its colorful fur wraps, collars, stoles and other items.
The fur accessories collection includes scarves, collars, mufflers and wraps made from rabbit, rex, raccoon and fox. The styles come in a myriad of colors from black and dark brown to red, olive, camel, pale pink and pale blue. There’s even a leopard-print rabbit stole. Wholesale prices are about $30 to $250.
Moyna Singh, a native of India who two years ago started an embellished handbag and soft home-furnishings label called Moyna, said that heavily beaded evening bags are the most popular items she’s sold for holiday.
Trends include wool, flannel and velvet patchwork handbags shaped into croissant, baguette and hobo silhouettes.
All are paved with sparkling jewels or lushly embellished with exotic embroidery.
Moyna also has booked lots of embellished scarves and stole wraps for holiday, which are expected to be hits at the company’s numerous high-end specialty-store accounts. The company is projecting sales to rise this year to $4 million, with a big comp-sales increase at holiday as part of the momentum.
Roka, a fashion jewelry line named for its owner and designer, Roanne Kaplan, launched in May for holiday and already has an account base stretching from the U.S. to Spain. First-year sales are planned at $150,000, according to Kaplan.
“We’re taking a luxe, modern and romantic path for holiday,” explained Kaplan, a sculptor who carves her jewelry designs from wax.
Her holiday designs include maroon and sterling silver bracelets that are caressed on either side by strands of faceted ruby and coral, citrine necklaces, and rose gold and red coral earrings, with an overall emphasis on movement and fluidity.

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