Fashion Facets

Fashion? Think Accessories

If you keep up with fashion news, you’ve probably been reading about the revitalization of the accessories category. As a consumer, if you’ve spent years carrying one black bag but suddenly find yourself changing handbags with every outfit, then you know there’s something in the air. Whether it’s hair jewelry, pashmina shawls, fine jewelry, or handbags, accessories are defining fashion more and more.

The Fashion Group Inter-national, an association of executives in the fashion industry, recently hosted a discussion about accessories and the bottom line. And with good reason: Accessories are contributing an increasingly large sum to retailers’ profits. Panelists included jewelry designer Karen Erickson; millinery designer Catherine Malandrino; Rise Gerber, fashion director of accessories for Bergdorf Goodman; and Richard Lambertson, president of handbag maker Lambertson-Truex. In recent years, the panel concluded, consumers have tended to dress alike. Why? Because of unoriginal apparel and the adoption of a standardized, minimalist look. But now, said panelists, people once again are yearning to express their individuality, and they’re doing so through the use of accessories.

The panelists agreed that a strong economy combined with celebrity and media exposure are driving demand for accessories. People feel exuberant, and they’re willing to spend on novelties and experiment with style. This is especially true at the designer level, said Gerber. Malandrino said that even people who dress all in black are not afraid to wear colorful accessories. Lambertson and Erickson stressed the power of media exposure. Erickson said that when one of her pieces of jewelry appears on a celebrity, she immediately gets calls from across the country asking where to buy it. She stressed that the calls come from all regions of the country, not just upscale urban areas.

The panelists agreed that accessories are difficult to merchandise but worth the effort. They noted two keys to success: staying on top of trends; and making sure your accessories department displays reflect the image of your store.

Are You Ready For Y3K?

To inaugurate the approach of the third millennium, designer Catherine Iskiw has designed a three-stone bezel-set ring. (Technically, 2001 begins the third millennium—counting the first as the years 1-1000, the second from 1001-2000, and the third from 2001-3000.) The ring, available in either platinum or platinum and 18k gold, is designed to serve three purposes: It can be worn as a fashion ring, given as an engagement ring, or used as a decorative wedding ring.

“I wanted to design my own version of the traditional triple-stone ring and use the same stylistic elements that I use in the rest of my line,” the designer says. Variations include a ring with a 1.2-ct. emerald-cut blue sapphire center and .50 ct. of diamond baguette accents (retail $6,990), an 18k gold and platinum ring with a 1-ct. center diamond and .90 ct. of ruby side stones (retail $2,990), or an all-diamond version with a 1-ct. square step-cut center and .50 ct. of baguettes (retail $2,125). Also available is a platinum setting with a 1.25-ct. step-cut tanzanite center and .35 ct. of diamond baguettes (retail $4,490).

Even if your computer isn’t ready for Y3K, your jewelry will be.

Jewelspotting At MTV and Emmy Awards

Lately, awards ceremonies seem to inspire more anticipation over who’s wearing what than over who won what. At this fall’s 1999 MTV Music Awards and the 51st annual Emmy Awards, diamonds were the jewel of choice. At the MTV Awards, singer Janet Jackson chose a 45-ct. diamond necklace designed by Bologna, Italy-based Stefan Hafner, whose work is distributed in the United States by Bernard Grosz Inc. of New York. Jackson’s platinum necklace had 74 oval diamonds and two pearls dangling from the ends. She wore it with a couture gown made of sportswear fleece fabric designed by Sweetrocket, and MTV’s House of Style voted Jackson the best dressed at the awards. Also decked out in a Hafner necklace was actress Lisa Kudrow, a presenter and nominee at the Emmy Awards. She accessorized his diamond “Sparkle” necklace with a pair of diamond line drop earrings from jeweler David Orgell of Beverly Hills.

Design, Aloha!

Among Jewelers of America affiliates, the Hawaii Jewelers Association has been one of the strongest supporters of promoting custom design. While most state affiliates sponsor an annual design contest for their member jewelers, Hawaii sponsors at least two statewide jewelry design contests every year. This year, the association divided its spring contest into two competitions, one for platinum jewelry and one focusing on pins and brooches. The two first-place winners will be entered in a fall contest for designer of the year. Here are the winning pieces:

Kenneth Jay Lane Celebrates 40 Years

The Fashion Institute of Techno-logy in New York is currently presenting “Dazzling by Design: Fashion Jewelry by Kenneth Jay Lane.” The show is a 40-year retrospective exhibition of more than 300 pieces created by the man many call “the king of costume jewelry.”

Lane is known for fabricating his costume jewelry in the same manner that fine jewelry is created, by casting in wax and choosing individual stones for their cut and color. His pieces are crafted from glass “emeralds,” resin “jades,” plastic “turquoise,” and gold-plated metals.

His pieces have been worn by some of the most prominent women in the United States, including first ladies Barbara Bush and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and by international socialites like the Duchess of Windsor. Though we in the fine jewelry industry may not agree, Lane says, “I believe every woman has the right to be glamorous, and I have always believed that a woman can be just as glamorous in costume jewelry as million-dollar bangles and beads.”

Highlights of the exhibition include vintage Lane pieces from the Sixties, such as earrings that dangle to the neck and “Egyptian” and “Chinese” necklaces in washed gold with faux jade, coral, and onyx and “Victorian” ribbons and feathers. Lane, a native of Detroit, attended the University of Michigan and the Rhode Island School of Design. His work has been carried in major stores around the world and is now regularly featured on television shopping network QVC.

Fine Jewelry Donations Benefit Schoolchildren

The Jewelry Information Center announced that the fine jewelry industry donated $100,000 worth of jewelry to the NYC 2000 Fashion Show. The show, held Sept. 13 in conjunction with New York City’s “Seventh on Sixth Fashion Week” (referring to Seventh Avenue, home of the fashion in-dustry, and Sixth Avenue, the location of the show), highlighted a “millennium look” from each of more than 80 fashion designers. Many of the outfits included fine jewelry.

The clothing and jewelry were donated by the designers and manufacturers and will be auctioned at a special gala benefit, with the proceeds going to help schoolchildren in New York City.

Fashion designers Bill Blass, Nicole Miller, Carmen Marc Valvo, Adrienne Vit-tadini, and Gene Meyer were just a few who used jewelry to complement their creations. Bill Blass chose South Seas pearl and diamond earrings from M&J Savitt. Carmen Marc Valvo called on Jeffrey Robert’s trademarked Microcord diamond necklace and earrings. Nicole Miller used Rina Limor’s aquamarine, diamond, and pearl choker and diamond earrings by Hammerman Bros. Adrienne Vittadini’s ensemble featured Jordan Meryl’s trademarked Huggy earrings. Gene Meyer’s men’s fashions were accented by the Jorg Hysek steel watch with rubber band.

One model sported more than $50,000 worth of millennium jewelry. She wore a combination of items featuring Tahitian cultured pearls, colored gemstones, diamonds, and precious metals. JIC president Lynn Ramsey says the model represents the timeless beauty of real jewelry. “Fine jewelry is not only fashionable, it connects us to our past,” Ramsey says. “Precious gems and metals have been admired for thousands of years.” The fine-jewelry in-dustry is New York City’s third largest manufacturing segment, according to JIC.

In addition to the aforementioned jewelry firms, the following manufacturers, designers, and retailers donated jewelry or watches to the NYC 2000 Fashion Show: A. Link & Co., Assael International, Bertolucci, Boucheron Joaillerie, CariDawn Inc., Cathy Carmendy Inc., Chronotime, Citi-zen, Cordova, Ebel, Fortunoff, Graubart Jewelers, Gumuchian Fils Ltd., Gurhan Or-han, Hermes Watch Co., International Bul-lion & Metal Brokers, Jane Bohan, Joey Clapper for Wright & Lato, Judith Jack, Judith Ripka, Kazto, Lieberfarb Inc., M’emoire, Matthew Trent Inc., Maurice Lacroix, Michael Anthony, Michael Bondanza, Norma Wellington, OGI Wedding Bands, Rembrandt Charms, Robert Lee Morris, Seiko Corp. of America, SeidenGang, Solomons Jewelers, Somos Creations, Steven Kretchmer Design, Vivian Alexander, and the William Schraft Design division of Robert Fisher.