Jewelry on the Runways

It was another season of luxury and jewelry on the runways. After several such seasons, it’s hardly a novelty to see high-profile designers accessorizing their clothes with fine jewelry. At the most recent shows, however, there’s been a noticeably strong trend that further solidifies jewelry’s place in the fashion world.

Tying fine jewelry and fashion into a snug knot, jewelers are now forming alliances with clothing designers. This has been accomplished not so much through placement by category promoters such as the Jewelry Information Center or Cultured Pearl Information Center, but rather by relationships between designers of clothes and designers of jewelry who share the same aesthetic.

The concept is similar to the 1980s trend in which fashion designers chose “Dynasty”-era fakes as accessories for extravagant clothing, but this time there’s nothing faux about it. Today’s designers are choosing gold, pearls, sterling silver designer pieces, and-especially-diamonds to help their clothes portray the luxe of the season.

On the edge of this trend is a designer known for decades as a fashion leader: Robert Lee Morris. For the spring shows, Morris teamed up with fashion designer Douglas Hannant, returning to the runways where he once paired with then-rising star Donna Karan. Among the classic Morris looks that are back for spring are large sterling cuffs, large hoop earrings, and accessories such as sterling silver and leather belts.

Morris, who has successfully transcended categorization and slipped with ease from the fashion world into the realm of precious jewelry, sees the alliance as a natural one. “The runway and fashion world is where I come from, and it’s where I belong,” he says.

Despite some recent bad press, diamonds remained the most important symbol of luxury on the runways of top designers. Halston, for example, used the diamonds of Leo Schachter in cuff bracelets and a pair of diamond evening shoes. Meanwhile, Kwiat, Bernard Grosz, and accessorized glamorous fashions by Randolph Duke, who even used diamond headbands.

Designer Mark Montano showed that big and bold gold jewelry is not a distraction but rather an enhancement to fashion. Taking an unusual turn, the designer also helped prove an idea born of Coco Chanel’s style-mixing real and faux-and adapted by modern women who mix and match different genres of jewelry for their own personal effect. Montano’s show featured jewelry by mass merchandising retailer Service Merchandise as well as that of the industry’s design leader, Henry Dunay.

Jeweler Craig Drake of Philadelphia also leaped the ever-shrinking gulf between fashion and fine jewelry, collaborating with fashion designer Paula Hian to accessorize the runway during her spring Fashion Week show.