Fashion Facets

HEADS OR TAILS?

Being president has some perks. Despite occasional fights with cranky members of Congress and nasty foreign dictators, you do get to live in a big house and have an airplane at your disposal. Your cat’s more popular with the public, but your wife can show her devotion by wearing your likeness on a specially designed coin.

Hillary Rodham Clinton chose just such a medallion to adorn the coat she wore on Inauguration Day. Award-winning jewelry designer Judith Ripka created this bronze medal of honor bearing the profile of William Jefferson Clinton (that’s Bill to his friends) with rubies, diamonds and sapphires in 18k gold representing the U.S. flag. A detachable clip of faceted Arkansas quartz is engraved 1997, and an 18k gold angel sits watching over the White House and the first family.

And lest unadorned lobes send earring sales plummeting as JFK’s bare head scotched hat sales in the ’60s, Rodham Clinton wore a pair of Ripka’s pearl-and-diamond earrings to complement the pin.

Judith Ripka’s 18k gold and gemstone medallion with the likeness of President Clinton.

DE-JUNKING ON A ROYAL SCALE

From Times Square to Tokyo, people are eliminating clutter, paring down to what’s essential. The de-junking bug now has bitten Diana, Princess of Wales.

Like many women on the threshold of a new and independent life, Diana is casting off trappings of her restrictive royal life. She gave a collection of fancy dresses to be auctioned at Christie’s, raising $3.25 million for the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund and AIDS Crisis Trust in the U.K., plus associated U.S. cancer and AIDS charities. “I am extremely happy to have this wonderful opportunity to raise money for charities devoted to the care of cancer and AIDS patients, both here in the United Kingdom and in America,” Diana says. “It goes without saying that these dresses, which gave me so much pleasure, may be enjoyed by others.”

The 80 dresses sold at Christie’s on June 25 date from the years when Di, as wife to the heir of the British throne, made official appearances in Great Britain and state appearances all over the world. Most of the dresses were created for her by British designers between 1981 and 1996. Included were cocktail dresses, dinner dresses and many of Diana’s famously photographed ball-gowns by Catherine Walker, Victor Edel-stein, Hartnell, Zandra Rhodes, Bruce Oldfield, Bellville Sassoon and the Eman-uels, among others.

So when Di cleans out her closet, does she too spend a rainy Saturday in her underwear, facing indecision and piles of clothes on the bed? Navy blue tulle dance dress over-embroidered with scintillants and diamond stars is by Murray Arbeid. Ivory silk evening dress and bolero jacket by Catherine Walker are embroidered with simulated pearls and mother-of-pearl sequins.

CDG HONORS DESIGNERS

The Contemporary Design Group recently presented its second annual High Achievement Awards to six individuals who have contributed to the contemporary jewelry design movement. The awards are given in four categories, from creator to seller to promoter of designer jewelry.

Steve and Elaine Kaufman of Ladyfingers gallery in Carmel, Cal., received the Best Designer Retailer Award for doing the most or making the most progress in selling and merchandising designer jewelry.

Alan Revere of San Francisco, Cal., was voted Most Valuable Player for creating an indelible place in the world of designer jewelry through his own designs and his support of the movement.

John and Audrey Bromstad of JQ magazine were acknowledged as Designer Advocates, in the category for those who advance the designer jewelry concept through marketing, promoting, media, trade shows or similar functions.

New York City designer Jose Hess was inducted into the CDG Hall of Fame for his contribution to the designer jewelry market.

The award trophies were glass sculptures created by New Mexico glass artist Henry Summa. The hand-blown sculptures are part of the artist’s Ribbon Vortex Series.

CDG is a trade association of more than 80 designers who promote their own creations and promote designer jewelry as a whole. The awards dinner was sponsored by Jewellery International magazine.

A RELATIONSHIP IS A RELATIONSHIP

Flamingo B.V., one of the Netherlands’ leading ring manufacturers, has responded to the needs of the gay and lesbian community by producing a collection of rings with the pink triangle, a symbol of gay pride and loyalty.

“Gays and lesbians are proud people with their own pronounced way of life, and this group is increasingly defining its own values and expressing these to the modern world,” says Rob Hollander, general manager of Flamingo.

The Gay Ring® collection comes in white gold or platinum and yellow gold with triangles of pink gold accented by various gemstones. The collection of 12 designs is available in 14k and 18k and retails for US$530 to $700.

Flamingo B.V., P.O. Box 405, NL-343, AK Nieuwegein, The Netherlands; fax (31-30) 603 6007, e-mail flamingo@juwelnet.ni.

A selection of Gay Rings by Flamingo B.V., the Netherlands.

LUXURY JEWELRY SHOPPING!

Fifth Avenue near 57th St. in New York City is a mother lode of shopping for a luxury jewelry enthusiast, with stores such as Tiffany, Asprey, Bulgari and Cartier all within a short strolling distance. Here’s a taste of what’s in stores:

Asprey introduces the “Forget-Me-Knots” collection of 18k gold jewelry. The knot, an age-old symbol of unity, longevity and unwavering devotion, comprises two intertwining figure eights, joined to become a single element. The design, derived from Celtic decorations, is modern in its clean lines, bold proportions and predominantly high-polish finish. Pieces in the collection range from classic ear clips in 18k yellow or bicolor gold ($1,600 retail) to chain-link and bangle bracelets with coordinating necklaces ($3,700 to $7,850 without diamonds up to $17,975 with diamond pavé or pearl accents).

Tiffany & Co. announces eight new watches, a new jewelry suite and two new writing instruments in its Atlas collection. The pieces, unveiled for the press during the Basel fair in April, are slated to be in stores by fall. The Atlas collection, launched in 1995, features two major design elements: raised and polished Roman numerals against a matte background or raised ribs of pol-ished metal against a grooved matte background. The new jewelry and watches feature the numeral design; the writing instrument collection features the rib design. Both will coordinate with gold or silver jewelry. The design aesthetic was inspired by the Atlas clock that graces the entrance of Tiffany’s flagship store at 57th and Fifth.

The Chanel boutique, meanwhile, features jewelry evoking the spirit of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, whose easy sportswear liberated the corseted female body and turned 20th century fashion on its ear. Chanel was a great lover of brooches, wearing them with the same irreverence and creativity she brought to her then-revolutionary clothes, pinning them at her waist, on a hat or as a jacket fastener. Each of her brooches held personal meaning, whether its theme was flowers, stars, or Byzantine motif. Unlike most women of her day who wore jewels to please the man who bought them, Chanel wore brooches for her own pleasure.

True to the spirit of Coco Chanel, the Chanel Joaillerie Fine Jewelry Collection has expended its “Coco” line to include colored gemstone brooches. These are a freehand interpretation of a jewel Chanel designed in the 1930s. The Coco brooches are oval, topped with a square design and underlined by a signature motif. The design is a tribute to the Scottish brooches worn to fasten a kilt. But unlike traditional Scottish thriftiness, these brooches are a symbol of modern luxury.

FAE THE NEWS IS POWERFUL

If spring was about pretty, then fall is about pretty powerful design statements. This prediction comes from Janet Racy, fashion consultant for the Fashion Accessories Expo trade show. At the FAE May market, which is a preview for fall/winter, Racy said the fashion look is stronger, bolder and more defined than in past seasons. There’s a return of luxury, sexuality, ethnic styles, gender-bending and structured silhouettes.

“Accessories take on more definition as an integral part of achieving the new ready-to-wear look,” she said. “Clothes are the words, accessories are the punctuation.”

The coming season has several themes. Most notable is modern structure – clean, defined silhouettes and shapes, including broad shoulders and skinny bottoms.

Gender-bending looks mix masculine and feminine touches, such as the roughness of tweed accentuated by lacy jewels. Ethnic influences abound in fashion jewelry, with Chinese looks leading the way.

There’s also a return of the sexually aggressive punk look, with animal skins, leather and short, tight silhouettes balanced on stiletto heels.

Color is an important message, especially in tonal mixes or color blocks.

Fashion jewelry shows up in shiny gold or silver, with a definite ’80s influence in sleek geometric looks. Long modern earrings and rings on all fingers are being spotted on the runways. Necklaces are strong with semiprecious stones and cabochons, and the handcrafted or ethnic look gives jewelry an old-world feel. Chains are still strong, with snake and ball chains in the lead, as well as link-and-toggle looks. The silver/tortoise combination still looks new (a fine jewelry version of this combo is silver with amber).

In other accessory news, bags for fall are structured, either box-like or flat, but constructed for day and evening. Look for status hardware and exposed zippers to coordinate with jewelry.

New fall belts show clean geometric shapes for buckles, as well as links and exotic skins. Metals in belts are shiny, tortoise accents continue and the skinny shape remains important. The scarf becomes “the new jewelry” this fall, especially in long and skinny panné velvet or silk styles, little mufflers in fake fur, and metallic and other fancy knits such as chenille, heather or popcorn.

Texture is also important on the leg, with the newest hosiery options being fishnet, mesh, lace and crochet styles matched tonally to skirt and shoe. Nude shades are current, and watch for a comeback of socks. For the younger set, anklets and high heels are back for tart-chic clubwear. This interest at the ankle for fall may portend a return of the ankle bracelet for spring. Stay tuned.

For a detailed look at fashion and fine jewelry trends for fall, see “Return of the ’80s,” page 66.