A slowdown in the economy has so far had little effect on the international accessories scene, which forges ahead with new collections, some currency change and designer luggage ready for that long-deserved trip.

Here, a roundup of some recent news from Paris and Milan.

PARIS

COIN TOSS Talk about loose change. To create its “Eurodyssey” line of accessories marking the arrival of the euro on Jan. 1, Celine collected some 40,000 coins from 12 European nations. The soon-obsolete currency now decorates a limited-edition line of handbags, belts and pouches, which were delivered to Celine stores and select specialty outlets late last month.

“The idea is to celebrate Europe,” said Celine president Jean-Marc Loubier. “And we expect they will sell very quickly because they’re collectors’ items.”

The French 1-franc coin, for example, dates to the 14th century. The handbag and belt retail for about $710 and $340 respectively, while the pouches are about $150. Prices are converted from the euro at current exchange rate.

BUSINESS CLASS

“Montblanc is becoming feminized,” Philippe Piquard, Montblanc’s managing director in France, said at the “ladies’ lunch” he hosted at Foquet’s restaurant recently. The event doubled as the launch of Montblanc’s latest collections of women’s leather goods and the first annual “Montblanc Woman of the Year” award ceremony.

The 2001 prize went to Mathilde Cathiard-Thomas, founder of French skin-care firm Caudalie. Meanwhile, attendees were introduced to the Montblanc’s new women’s “business” collection, which consists of shoulder bags and handbags. Retail prices range from about $750 to $1,100.

Time Out

Sonia Rykiel’s new watch collection hit stores in France at the end of November. Developed under license with Montres Ambre SA of France, the six-model line will be rolled out to jewelry, department and specialty stores in Europe and Asia early next year and in the U.S. in the second half. Retailing between $200 and $700, the timepieces are embellished with some of Rykiel’s trademark flourishes, including rhinestones and colorful stripes.

Silver Belles

Kenzo’s Asian heritage figures prominently in the house’s silver jewelry line, which bowed this fall at Kenzo boutiques and select department stores. For example, the Kanji range, developed around a Japanese calligraphy theme, features polished silver rings, earrings, bracelets and pendants engraved with graphic flourishes. Retail prices for Kanji items range from $53 for a pair of engraved silver earrings to $720 for a chain bracelet.

Goyard Grows

French luggage firm Goyard believes in slow, careful growth. Founded in 1853 and still operating out of the same storefront on Rue Saint-Honore in Paris, the firm recently opened its second location, a 900-square-foot shop at 7 Schuttershof Street in Antwerp. It features a more modern design than the original shop, and offers a selection of trunks, trolleys, handbags and pet accessories.

Shimmering Story

In writing a book tracing the history of famed Place Vendome jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels, author Anne-Marie Clais cultivated a deep understanding of the brand’s nature.

“Van Cleef is very Right Bank,” she said.

Clais explained that the jewelry house, founded in 1906, oozes the glamour of a bygone age associated with colorful characters ranging from Marcel Proust to the Princess of Wales. The new book is published in French and English by Editions Assouline.

MILAN

Versace Vacation

The travel boom may be over, but Versace is offering consumers an incentive to pack up and leave with its new set of deerskin carry-ons.

The bags, which include a three-compartment case, a garment bag and make-up satchels, come in bright red with contrasting cream-colored ridges and are lined with a brocade print in a soft gold and red pattern. Donatella Versace travels with her own personal set in azure.

“I think these suitcases are really beautiful with their soft calf and baroque silk-jacquard lining,” she said. “I’ve really wanted them for so long and we’ve finally made them. I personally wanted them azure because I adore that color.”

They will be available at Versace boutiques in the U.S. this spring and will retail for $1,800 to $2,700.

Haute Designs

There is a little bit of couture in Haute, the clothing and accessories line designed by Vincenzo De Cotiis.

De Cotiis, who has a background as an architect, loves to scout around markets and thrift shops for old sheets, linens, antique laces, army T-shirts and vintage hides, recycling and dyeing them for a contemporary edge. De Cotiis also reuses old buckles and bracelets as closures on the soft napa bags, attaches pleated pockets to them and recycles zips and nets to decorate totes.

“I always check every detail until it’s exactly the way I want it,” said De Cotiis of the handmade, limited-edition pieces.

Haute is available at about 50 stores around the world. In the U.S., the line is sold at Barneys New York, Maxfield in Los Angeles, Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco and Chicago’s Ultimo. Retail prices range between $200 and $270.

Acqua View

Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s aficionados can now accessorize his head-turning collections with signature sunglasses and prescription frames.

A collection of shades will launch worldwide next May at Mido, the international eyewear fair held in Milan. The shades are produced and distributed by Visibilia, the upscale eyewear manufacturer that is also the licensee for Blumarine, Iceberg, Trussardi and Laura Biagiotti.

Dell’Acqua opted for sinuous shapes that wrap around the face in a palette that plays up black and powder pink, the designer’s favorite and timeless hues.

“I thought of such as Silvana Mangano and Anna Magnani and gave them a modern edge with contrasting materials such as steel and celluloid,” he said.

In the first year, sales in Italy are expected to reach $2.2 million, with distribution to 350 domestic sales points.

Ferre Comes Home

In line with its strategy of taking production in-house, IT Holding announced earlier this month that it will produce and distribute Gianfranco Ferre’s eyewear collection through its own eyewear company, Allison.

This is the first license to be taken in-house for Ferre, whose company was purchased last year by Gruppo Tonino Perna, the parent of IT Holding. The collection will launch next month with a spring collection. It will include 100 models and a limited, numbered edition in laminated gold.

The designer’s eyewear collection was previously produced and distributed by longtime licensee Safilo. Allison also produces eyewear for Anna Sui and Roberto Cavalli. – Alison Beckner, Miles Socha and Robert Murphy, Paris / Luisa Zargani and Alessandra Ilari, Milan”122801″>”1201″>”MARKETING>”2001″>”WOMENS>

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