Jewels Were Few and Far Between at Fall 2014 Fashion Week

No pun intended, but Prabal Gurung’s show, early during New York’s Fashion Week, revealed a lot. He was inspired by the Buddhist kingdom of Mustang; Asian references were all over this season. He showed plenty of thick fur—a full-on trend by week’s end. Ditto his emphasis on cozily oversized proportions.

And then there was the streaker.

Yes, during Gurung’s presentation—look No. 9, to be exact—a streaker raced across the runway. No, this did not happen elsewhere. But for a fairly quiet show (some called it contemplative; others monastic), Vitalii Sediuk, who has also crashed the Grammys, quickly shook up the scene. It mirrored the experience of the fall 2014 collections—at least if your eye is attuned to jewelry on the runways. Because fall went a little like this: bare neckline, bare neckline, bare arms, bare neckline. Next show; rinse and repeat. Seeing a bold bauble offered a shocking jolt much like Mr. Sediuk’s bare bum. 

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Donna Karan makes a big bangle.

Perfect case in point: Toward the end of Donna Karan’s 30th anniversary show, one of the finale models came out in a chunky, architecturally intriguing bangle. Pow! And then another. Bam! And another. Three jewels in 43 exits.

Perhaps the MIA jewelry had to do with all the surface interest designers are championing: detailed jacquards (Suno, Creatures of the Wind); manipulated leathers (Alexander Wang); 3-D embellishments (Honor, Jenny Packham). “The clothes are so highly decorated that they’re taking the lead away from the jewelry,” says Roseanne Morrison, fashion director at The Doneger Group.

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Oscar de la Renta goes for oversize drop earrings.

Or maybe it’s because of the season’s affinity for furs and colossal volume. Neither leaves much room for smaller accents. Look at the softly voluminous knits at The Row; they practically swallowed the body. Morrison’s advice? “Earrings, for sure.” Indeed, Oscar de la Renta had his bundled-up girls in sizable drops (chandeliers and shoulder-dusters) while Carolina Herrera chose larger-than-life tassel styles.

But the bigger story of the season chased the other end of the spectrum: slim and sleek metals. Rebecca Taylor and Mara Hoffman had super-narrow swipes for cuffs; the Rodarte girls, delicate bracelets topped by a tiny butterfly. Leading the way was Joseph Altuzarra, whose terrific show—equal parts grace and strength—featured wire-thin pieces that traced the wrist and neck like liquid metal doodles.

Altuzarra’s line also nodded to one of fall’s burgeoning trends: sophisticated handicraft. Others, like Gary Graham, Edun, and Rodarte worked what Morrison calls the “rich hippie” side of the equation, which will hit the jewelry set next season. For her, that translates to long pendants, mixed materials like metal and wood, and coin ornaments.

The rest of the trends built on previous seasons’. Spring’s sports looks segued into outdoorsy explorer mode—Tommy Hilfiger even traded the sandy surf set for snow-capped mountain peaks. And there’s no sign of grunge slowing down—not if Vera Wang has her way. She kept plaids (and bug jewelry) going, while others (Rag & Bone, Creatures of Comfort) took those Seattle checks into rugged lumberjack terrain.

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Tassels at Carolina Herrera; low-key Prabal Gurung

And let’s not forget the gold story. The color was everywhere—Tracy Reese, Veronica Beard, Badgley Mischka, Derek Lam, and more. Thom Browne and Diane von Furstenberg sent out all-gold finales, the latter capped by a shower of gold confetti. Hoffman gave her models gold manicures, and Gurung sent his past a backdrop of giant gold gongs. Then there was the streaker. He accessorized his birthday suit with a gold crown and leopard-print G-string—in gold.