Spring Fashion Forecast

JEWELRY IS BACK

Spring’s overall fashion direction remains similar to fall’s: the silhouette is slim and close to the body; the pants suit is the working woman’s wardrobe staple, especially with an elongated jacket; and the long, lean look is important for evening. New elements include an emphasis on knits, such as matte jersey; asymmetrical details, such as one-shouldered dresses and fish tail hems; and jackets with bias-cut openings.

Sexy dresses with cut-outs and sheer, lacy chiffons were one of the main themes at spring/summer ready-to-wear collections in Europe and the U.S., but retailers are questioning whether such styles will play well with women who actually have to leave the house. The conclusion of many retail experts is that real women may wear lace, but it will merely peek out from under a jacket. Sheer will be lined or layered to skim and shadow the body, not show it off.

The good news for the jewelry industry is that jewelry was back on runway models in a big, bold way. True, jewelry of armor-like proportions was incongruously placed on all those thin, delicate clothes. Still, apparel designers reflected a developing trend toward jewelry that is larger and in natural forms.

Ethnic influences permeated the color palette as designers such as Ralph Lauren used the rich brown and russet patterns of the Masai tribe, and Armani, Max Mara and Prada featured mandarin jackets in royal purple, blue and white. Springwear showed off colors usually reserved for fall, such as cinnamon and deep pomegranate red. Though some designers showed a touch of shimmer in their fabrics, most went for matte and left the shine to the jewelry, which, by the way, stood out against the new deeper color palette. Tom Ford at Gucci continued fall’s obsession with dark chocolate: with a few exceptions, his entire collection was deep brown!

The jewelry news: High-end fashion retailers were happy to see the play that jewelry got on the runways and are planning to boost their jewelry offerings this spring.

Ellin Saltzman, fashion director at Henri Bendel, told Women’s Wear Daily that for her, the major news in Europe was the return of jewelry, especially bracelets. Bracelets were everywhere, including big bold wrist and upper arm cuffs. The wrapped snake armband made a comeback with sleeveless and skinny clothes. The newest necklaces are lariats, tied in front or back. White metal is still very important, as are pearls, but African-inspired prints and spicy colors look especially good with gold.

Gail Pisano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue, also was impressed by jewelry’s return. She honed in on statement-making pieces rather than suites of jewelry. Indeed, the message seems to be to wear one bold piece of jewelry at a time. At Emporio Armani, for example, a model jangled an armload of silver bangles that looked like a single piece. At Ralph Lauren, a bronze collar covered most of the neck and collarbone. Slim hoop earrings just about touched the shoulders. Donna Karan showed jewelry designer Angela Pintaldi’s boulder-sized necklaces of amber and quartz.

JCK asked the Cultured Pearl Information Center to photograph some of the spring clothing trends, accessorized, appropriately, with pearls, which continue to be one of the hottest trends in jewelry wear. For trendstetters such as Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, pearls perfectly complement a clean, elegant style. In fact, pearls are practically the only jewelry Bessette-Kennedy been seen wearing since she married John F. Kennedy Jr. last year. In addition to pearls, JCK predicts bold jewelry styles will also complement the spring/summer clothing trends, and we show examples to accompany the CPIC’s photos. We predict 1970s shapes and jewelry will stay current through summer at the very least. Looking ahead toward fall, watch for a resurgence of dressy peplum suits and flared dresses, the latter influenced by the film Evita, in which Madonna’s Dior-clad figure is dressed up with brooches, cocktail rings and big necklaces and earrings.

Selecting Bold Jewelry When Buying This Spring

Unlike the jewelry of the 1980s, where more was just more, the new bold is leaner of line and more body-conscious. Or it’s nature-oriented with rough texture, unusual material, uncut gems or amber. As you’re shopping the jewelry shows, here are a few tips for selecting bold jewelry.

Line: Flowing & Clean

Look at the overall line of the piece before concentrating on surface detail. The lines should be flowing and clean. Step back a short distance and look for neatness and coherence. For example:

  • Bangles. You can pile them on, but they should look like one big-statement bracelet.

  • Cocktail rings and earrings. Instead of the cluster rings of old, look for diamond pavé that’s been blended into the surface to form a swath of white sparkle. Also look for single, bold gems, possibly bezel-set cabochons or other nontraditional settings and cuts, rather than many small stones.

  • Brooches. Clean and bold. When clusters or multiple gems are used, look for flowers or other shapes from nature that make a single statement.

  • Neckwear. Up close, it may feature various details, such as engraved flowers or leaves. But from a distance, it should appear neat and clean.

Fit: Weight & Size

With bold jewelry, you must consider fit. It can bruise if it’s not the right size or fit. Some examples:

  • Cuffs and collars should not thump against the wrist or collarbone – some weight is OK as long as the fit is right.

  • Bangles, if not hinged, should slide comfortably onto the hand and move freely on the wrist. They should not be big enough to slide off.

  • Earrings must be considered for size and weight. A relatively lightweight earring can still feel heavy if it’s long and moves a lot. Bigger earrings may need wider back or plastic discs to keep them upright. Or the posts may need to be moved to suit individual customers.