Fashion Facets

EARLY SPRING FORECAST: SHERBETS, DOTS AND LADIES

Spring fashions previewed at the Fashion Coterie and the New York Premier Collections show a continuation of femininity and shape, with more classic suits and dresses reminiscent of ’40s, ’50s and ’60s ladies. Most prevalent colors were sherbet shades of orange, lemon-lime, pale lavender, pink and blue. The colors were more vivid than standard pastels but not as bright as tropicals or jewel tones.

Doneger Design Direction presented a trend forecast for the season. Some of the highlights of its predictions were:

· Attractive fashions and saleable style will continue, fueled by a need to provide more appeal to consumers as well as more direction than the “do your own thing” motif of seasons past.

· Classics will abound, especially authentic retro revivals of classic spectator and club wear from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, from whence modern sportswear was derived.

· Retro classic looks also will be seen in functional fashions with a military or safari flavor, which will bring a fresh perspective to the oversaturated natural/ecological trend.

· Some fun pieces for summer may take a “tourist” look, reminiscent of the kinds of clothes people used to buy in vacation hotspots like Hollywood, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Shanghai or Memphis. Look for ethnic glamour here.

· Subtle romance will replace overt sexiness in designs that drift over the body.

· Color trends include the sherbet washes described above, which Doneger says is a directional palette, designed to bring light color to a new level with a stronger approach. The colors are offbeat and offshade. Also look for the palest of tints, gradations and two-tonalities in neutrals, a contrasting look of very rich, shadowed traditional darks and straightforward primary colors.

· In fabrics, ethereal drapable fabrics remain available, but interest in crisper sheers such as organdie or tulle is rising. Jersey, georgette and satin are major revivals. Shine is still important but it will be balanced out with matte. Weaves are important, as stable structures call for textiles that hold a controlled shape. Dense weaves such as cotton pique, gabardine and duck also will be important.

· Prints and patterns go classic, with stripes and plaids returning to their origins as sporting patterns. Look for polka dots to make a major revival, while neat allover prints, whether floral or geometric, will look new again.

RESORT STAYS CRISP, CLEAN

If resort wear is a bellwether of spring fashion, the current crop of crisp, shapely apparel should continue. Resort showings have featured sleeveless sheath dresses, fitted jackets, crisp suits in cotton pique and slim cigarette-leg trousers in lengths from capri to ankle. Women’s Wear Daily reported that skinny cropped pants already were becoming de rigeur on the streets of New York last summer, edging out the ubiquitous flowing wide trousers.

IF YOU WAIT LONG ENOUGH…

Big jewelry should be coming back, says a report in The Fashion Newsletter, a trend forecasting publication. FNL cites a desire to return to ornamentation as the minimalist look moves out. Also watch for real diamonds to become prominent again in delicate diamond hearts, crosses and lockets adorning plain jewel necklines à la Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

A MATTER OF SEMANTICS

Baby Boom women, now ages 31-50, are increasingly likely to buy a foundation garment that compresses, lifts and generally rearranges things into a more pleasing shape, says a report in American Demographics magazine. But AD says Boomers are “younger” than previous generations were at the same age and they don’t like words that have connotations of old age. Hence, euphemisms such as bodyshapers, WonderbrasTM, HipslipsTM, power panels, contouring hose, etc. have replaced the old-fashioned “girdle.”

Age is a touchy subject for Boomers. There is a desire to accept yourself and simply be your best at any age, but many in this generation also are quick to take advantage of the many advances in plastic surgery. Thankfully, there are no miracle bracelets to be euphemistically called “wrist enhancers.” But jewelers should be aware that older women may be self-conscious of things like aging hands and drooping earlobes or necks.

DESIGN FINDS

Gillian Design of Zurich, Switzerland, specializes in limited edition 18k gold jewelry. Each design is limited to 300-500 designs sold worldwide, with each piece signed and numbered.

Designer Gillian Hollenstein has created more than a dozen collections, each with intricate texture detailing, hand fabrication and gem setting. The collections are Orchard, Indus, Storks, Sails, Embrace, Chrysalis, Mask, Contrasts, Antiquity, Assurance, Intersection and Mirror Image. Each piece is packaged in a leather box with a black and silver outer sleeve and a certificate of authenticity. Hollenstein is looking for U.S. jewelers to introduce the line.

Retail prices range from US$650 to $9,750, triple keystone, in 18k white or yellow gold with VVS diamonds. The line is crafted by Tristar Jewellery Exports Ltd., Bombay, India.

The Charlotte line by German-based Ehinger Schwarz, seeks to attract jewelry buyers as teenagers and grow with them by offering modular rings, earrings, necklace mountings and brooches in everything from sponge rubber to platinum and diamonds. At several company-owned retail stores in Germany, customers create personalized pieces of jewelry by starting with the original fitting and adding multiple decorative elements, such as gemstone collars, mother-of-pearl, rubber cut-outs or lacy mini-doilies. Young girls opt for colorful fun rubber modules; older consumers can take the same base and add various gemstones and silver, gold or even platinum pieces.

Charlotte can be seen at the Basel Fair; manufacturer Tristar Jewellery features Gillian at the JCK show in Las Vegas. Both firms are interested in meeting American jewelers.

C. Thomas Hunt is a native Californian whose talent for jewelry and goldsmithing became apparent while he was still in high school. He continued his design studies through college and chose to pursue a jewelry career in the San Francisco Bay area, working his way up to senior designer for Shreve & Co. He now operates his own design and manufacturing studio in San Francisco.

His work has been featured in national publications like Town & Country, W and Bride’s magazines, and he has received numerous De Beers design awards, including Diamonds Today (1985), Diamonds-International (1988 and 1992) and Diamonds-International finalist (1990 and 1994).

Hunt likens his design style to the cultural, artistically creative character of San Francisco. He is known for incorporating ancient and unusual materials, such as second century Roman glass or mother-of-pearl from 200-year-old gambling chips, into bold classical forms.