Buckle Up!

Waist not, want not.

As the new trend in accessorizing calls for one or two standout pieces, designers are suddenly looking down – to the waist and hip – for inspiration.

Tom Ford, whose column dresses at Gucci have built-in jewelry over cut-out hips, is also helping to fuel the revival of the status belt. At Chanel, the must-have and most-copied accessory of the season is a goldtone belt with a jeweled buckle. Slim chain belts hug the hips and add just the right touch to pared-down clothes, giving a ’90s interpretation of a ’70s staple.

The belt-as-jewelry was a leading fashion trend for fall 1996, and it continues into spring 1997. As the photos on the next three pages show, if it’s really jewelry you want, it’s a real jeweler you should call. “Claude” buckle in sterling silver and 18k gold highlights a teal green leather belt. Suggested retail, $1,050. Susan Helmich, P.O. Box 1194, Monument, CO 80132; (719) 488-0484.

“Elements” signature buckle, keepers and tip are sterling silver with 18k gold domed accents. Shown with black buffalo leather belt. Suggested retail, $650. John Atencio, 280 Detroit St., Denver, CO 80206; (303) 322-5581.

“Sabi” buckle and keeper in 18k gold and platinum are shown on a 11/4-in. leather belt. Suggested retail, $11,312. Henry Dunay, 22 W. 48th St., Suite 505, New York, NY 10036; (800) 888-2525 or (212) 768-9700.

14k gold belt buckle with .05-ct. diamonds is $700 suggested retail (leather belt extra). The Rothenberg Collection, 7257 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91406; (800) 288-1009 or (818) 786-7512.

Two buckles from the “Changée” and “Les Elephants” series are sterling silver or sterling with gold and enamel. The “Changée” belt comes with three straps of different colors, the other with one strap; $560 each retail. Laudier/Georg Lauer GmbH & Co., Simmlerstr. 17, 75172 Pforzheim, Germany. (49) 7231-1690, fax (49) 7231-105486.

Sterling silver and marcasite buckle on croco grain leather is $250 suggested retail. Judith Jack Inc., 392 Fifth Ave., Second Floor, New York, NY 10018; (800) 431-0017 or (212) 695-4004.

Photos by Brian Edington. “Kiss” belt in 14k gold with 11/4-in. black alligator strap is $1,240 suggested retail. Mazza/Bartholomew Ltd., 677 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10022; (800) 255-2409 or (212) 935-4530.

Sterling silver, black onyx and marcasite buckle on genuine snakeskin is $350 suggested retail. Judith Jack Inc., 392 Fifth Ave., Second Floor, New York, NY 10018; (800) 431-0017 or (212) 695-4004.

“Renoir” sterling silver chain belt is $517 suggested retail. The Alicia Bleier Collection, 8033 Sunset Blvd., Suite 623, Los Angeles, CA 90046; (213) 935-3424.

Sterling silver and 18k sunflower buckle graces a crocodile strap. Suggested retail, $1,886. Kimberlee Teti, 369 W. Lancaster Ave., Haverford, PA 19041; (610) 642-0600.

Sterling silver chain belt with garnets breaks down into two bracelets and one necklace. It’s also available with citrine, amethyst, multicolor or 14k gold stations on sterling with pink and green tourmalines. Suggested retail as shown, $450. Leslie Gwenn, 305 Madison Ave., Suite 2045, New York, NY 10165; (800) 355-BELT.

Belt and buckle have 14k white gold skeletal parts with oxidized sterling silver details. Suggested retail, $750. Kim Eric Lilot for St. Eligius, 1748 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123; (415) 771-2282. Ruby crystal buckle features zoisite and 2.80 carats of rubies in 18k gold on a green leather belt. Suggested retail, $8,750. Silverhorn, 1155 Coast Village Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93108; (805) 969-0442.

Sterling silver belt buckle with croco grain leather strap is $130 suggested retail. Judith Jack Inc., 392 Fifth Ave., Second Floor, New York, NY 10018; (800) 431-0017 or (212) 695-4004.

Sterling silver and 18k vermeil buckle and keeper feature peridot accents. Suggested retail, $870 with alligator strap, $650 with lizard strap. Leslie Gwenn, 305 Madison Ave., Suite 2045, New York, NY 10165; (800) 355-BELT.

18k celadon gold buckle shown on black belt features .20 carat of diamonds and two ruby cabochons. Strap comes in genuine crocodile or American alligator. Suggested retail, $3,750. Judith Ripka, 21 W. 46th St., New York, NY 10036; (212) 391-2340.

14k belt buckle is $500 suggested retail. The Rothenberg Collection, 7257 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91406; (800) 288-1009 or (818) 786-7512.

Sterling silver and 18k gold belt buckle is $1,000 suggested retail. Jody Serago Designs, 807 Bay Ave., Somers Point, NJ 08244; (609) 653-0515.

Sterling silver “beaded” narrow buckle with brown Nubuck strap is $450 suggested retail. Stephen Dweck, 21 W. 38th St., New York, NY 10018; (212) 764-3030.

For more belt buckles, see What’s New, page 206. Sterling silver and 14k gold belt buckle is $560 retail. With black alligator strap, $600. David Yurman, 501 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022; (212) 593-1122.