Trend Watch: Perfect Match–The Return of the Demi-Parure

Matching handbags to shoes, or shoes to handbags, used to be an art form. I still remember most fondly, back in the days before there was online shopping, my aunt’s energetic search of all (and I do mean all) the department stores and shoe salons in Chicago to find just the right shoes that matched the perfect handbag that complemented the coffee cream-colored ultrasuede suit (me) and coat (her) we had acquired. The end result was so polished that I wore that suit with its perfectly matched accessories and loved it until it wore out.


Some of the designer lines, such as Ferragamo, consistently produced matching sets of handbags and shoes, but if they weren’t producing items in exactly the right color, the hunt was on. The look of matched accessories hasn’t been trendy in some years, and today, even when some of the lines make matched pieces available, the department stores don’t stock them. Just try to match a Marc Jacobs blue violet ostrich satchel or Christian Louboutin magenta suede pumps (although I concede these items are so gorgeous that they deserve to be the highlight of an ensemble). The designer trunk show is the saving grace for the customer determined to own a matched set.


Jewelry designers often create suites of jewelry as a matter of course and have continued to do so irrespective of the predominant trend for fashionistas to wear mismatched pieces. The great news is that the popularity of matched sets of jewelry is once again on the rise.  


Matched cuffs seem to be the easiest adaptation of this new trend. If a customer loves one, chances are good that she’ll love two of the same. The October 2008 issue of In Style magazine note that matching cuffs is a “hot trend” seen on stars including Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow and Charlize Theron.


However, the trend goes even farther. Look no farther than the cover of the September 2008 issue of Vogue, which pictures Keira Knightley wearing a matching choker and two bracelets by Balenciaga. Inside the issue you will find another matched necklace-bracelet set by Balenciaga as well as an even wider matched choker and cuffs by Etro. The demi-parure is back.


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Speaking personally, when I find an unusual design I really love, I find it very difficult to pass up the matching pieces, especially earrings, which so often complete an ensemble. A matched set is expensive-looking and an elegant way of dressing. This is one hot trend well worth highlighting to your customers as they contemplate the purchase of a bracelet or necklace.

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