Fashion Facets

    Pink and white, the latest incarnation of the mixed-metal look, offers a delicate and feminine but contemporary alternative to traditional yellow gold. It should be a sweet go-with for spring fashion, which early reports say will explode with color – both pastel and acid bright – but remain firmly feminine in shape and feel. Silk shantung (or other blends in a shantung weave) is shaping up as the must-have fabric for spring; the shine of pink gold and platinum or pink and white gold combinations should look just right with soft-shine shantungs.

    Jewelry designer Timothy Grannis, Burlington, Vt., created a miniature sterling silver wallet-size pen that was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1995-’96 Holiday Gift Catalog. The 3″ long “sliver thin” pen has a clip to hold it in the fold of a wallet, card holder or other small accessory.
    The MOMA Gift Catalog is mailed to 1.5 million members of the museum and can be obtained at the MOMA Design Store in New York. Grannis’s pen also is being featured in the Orvis Travel Catalogue. It retails for approximately $45.

    The Casual Revolution is going strong and gaining steam, according to a September 1995 Smith Barney survey of the top 25 Fortune 500 firms. The study, reported in a special “corporate casual” feature section in Women’s Wear Daily, found 88% of those companies now have “casual Fridays,” compared to 72% a year ago and 52% in early 1994.
    But don’t let this stymie your fine jewelry sales. If a customer asks, “Now that I can dress down, why do I need jewelry?” jewelers can respond, “Now that you’re dressing down, you need jewelry more than ever!”
    Why? Most people haven’t bought a separate “corporate casual” wardrobe; instead, they mix good pieces from their career wardrobes with good-value basics, like a Giorgio Armani blazer with Gap khakis. Fine jewelry is the perfect accent for this kind of dressing, because it makes a quality statement about the wearer, adds polish and panache to casual outfits and keeps them office-appropriate.
    Carol Brodie of the Diamond Information Center told WWD that new diamond jewelry designs, especially those in the “50 Ways to Say Forever” collection, are suitable for jeans, career and cocktail wear. The fashion jewelry industry also is rushing to respond to the trend with pieces suitable for corporate casual wear; bracelets may be a key category here.
    WWD interviewed experts from all segments of the fashion and retail markets to see how the casual phenomenon is affecting the business of fashion. Most agree that the relaxing of dress codes will boost fashion sales by allowing more room for creativity and individual taste. Suit sales may suffer but sales of separates and other pieces should make up the difference.
    Consumers and retailers alike are confused about just what casual means. In one office it may mean sport jacket and tie rather than suit and tie, while jeans are OK in other fields. So far, a good rule of thumb seems to be, “If it’s appropriate for a barbeque or a bar, it’s inappropriate for work.”

    Roman-born Loredana Sagnotti was a practicing physician before she became a jewelry designer. She’s also an avid photographer and painter, has dabbled in graphic arts, is a wife and mother, and believes firmly in the benefits of the ancient art of tai chi. Her Roman heritage inspires her jewelry, but for Sagnotti, the soul of a creation is the most important aspect of design.
    Sagnotti, who specialized in respiratory diseases, graduated from medical school in Italy. There she met her husband, Stephen Bradley, who was studying to be an orthopedic surgeon. By 1988, she found herself burned out on the ideals of Western medicine.
    “Western medicine overlooks the importance of the human mind in illness and health. The body is treated like a machine, making prevention of the disease much less important than treating it,” she says.
    Something was missing. She decided to leave medicine and immerse herself in the ancient craft of goldsmithing. She enrolled at the Bottega Dell’Artista in Rome, studying under a 74-year-old craftsman who taught her the traditions of the ancient Phoenician, Etruscan and Roman goldsmiths. (In turn, she used her medical gifts when her teacher wasn’t feeling well.)
    Sagnotti discovered tai chi when she and Stephen came to the United States. There she found the missing link in her medical training, and a true inspiration for her jewelry.
    “Tai chi opened all the doors that were closed to me,” she says; it represents the spiritual side of life to her. Now she is even willing to reconsider medicine, especially since the scientific world is becoming more receptive to Eastern philosophies.
    Tai chi helps Sagnotti artistically by providing a physical sense of harmony. When designing jewelry, she finds it easier to relax and find her “center”; she can express in her designs the mental and physical balance that comes from tai chi. All her pieces are one-of-a-kind.
    Concepts Gallery in Carmel, Cal., represents Sagnotti; she also has received commissions from top stores such as the late I. Magnin in San Francisco. She, her her husband and their two children live in Honolulu; telephone (808) 737-2857.
    Renee Calder has been handcrafting jewelry in New York for approximately 10 years. She has studied both ancient and modern styles of jewelry design, but now focuses on adapting early Byzantine, Etruscan and Celtic designs in a contemporary way. She works almost exclusively in 20k and 22k gold, using a variety of gemstones.
    Calder, who started as a fiber artist, uses a variety of design techniques to give her jewelry a special visual /tactile appeal. Each piece has texture and, when worn, develops a fine patina that enhances the appearance over time.
    All Calder designs are one-of-a-kind. She currently is experimenting with other forms of jewelry, mixed metals and more unusual cuts and types of stones.
    Calder is based in Larchmont, N.Y, handles commissioned private sales in New York and is represented by Concepts Gallery, Carmel, Cal., and Mindscape Gallery, Evanston, Ill. Telephone (914) 833-1043.
    The Tokyo J Collection is a new group of professional, independent jewelry designers from Japan. The group first met a year ago at the IJT show in Tokyo and plans a special exhibition there again this month. The Tokyo J Collection hopes to spread its message of fine Japanese jewelry design to the worldwide jewelry community.