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Fashion

Articles from FASHION JEWELLERY (278 Articles)

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Out with the old, in with the older

Fashion jewellery has debuted from bohemian chic to sophisticated femininity with fluid lines, voluptuous curves and a touch of precious glamour gracing new designs. GRETEL HUNNERUP reports

A slow but steady revolution is taking place inside the doors of jewellery stores all across Australia. It's the kind of overthrow that will change the face of fashion jewellery we've come to know so well. Loud, chunky and embellished styles are vanishing from the display cabinets, and taking terms such as 'ethnic' and 'gypsy' with them.

Fashionistas who once loved matching lengthy strands of semi-precious stones, giant silver cuffs and dangly crystal earrings with their effortlessly "thrown together" outfits are now trawling the dress-up box for something much different.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bohemian phenomenon that has reined supreme over fashion jewellery for several years is now making way for new kind of style.

Since the beginning of the millennium, fashion jewellery has been heavily influenced by the boho-chic fashion movement. It all started when style pioneers decided to revisit the hippie influences of the 1960s, taking to the streets in flouncy skirts, coin belts, furry vests and cowboy boots. Poster girls for the fashion mode included trendsetting starlets Sienna Miller and Ashley Olsen.

This worldwide phenomenon peaked in 2004-2005 when it flowed into the jewellery world, influencing designers and boosting sales of vintage stock.

But every hot trend has its day and the sun finally set when Sienna Miller announced to Vogue last year, "No more boho chic! Those two words make me sick now."

It was around this time that changes were afoot in the world of fashion apparel and fashion jewellery began to follow its lead.

A shift as prominent as this presents all kinds of challenges to retailers who have comfortably followed the same trend for a handful of successive seasons now.

But one way to avoid the guessing game is to look forward to Europe, still a crystal ball for future fashion direction here, according to Adriana Corti, director of sterling silver jewellery wholesaler Iron Clay.

"I follow what's on the catwalks in Europe by looking at fashion magazines and designer websites," Corti says. "I then do my designing and buying according to what will be in the clothes shops when the season reaches us six months later."

Corti believes the fashion industry is revisiting 1950s styles that enhance the curves of the woman, citing a wave of short coats, tops with three-quarter sleeves, capes and skinny pants on European catwalks. As such, she predicts that fashion jewellery in classic shapes and sophisticated hues will fare well.

"The biggest trends now are earrings with long chains, cocktail rings and shorter necklace chains with details like pearl balls, flowers and romantic lockets to make the outfits softer," she says. "Greys will be the winter wardrobe staple and jewellery with blacks, purples, navies and plain silver will accentuate.

Nobody wants too much colour in their jewellery now, because the market has been totally flooded with boho. It's a return to elegance, absolutely."

Colour consultant Leslie Harrington from Connecticut company LH Color, shares Corti's predictions, adding that grey-putty neutrals will replace browns and deep, dark orchids and plums will be important.

"The range will be richer and more luxurious, a return to a heritage of luxury," Harrington says.

For some designers, like Mayriel Luke of ARTipelago, the shift is a welcome change as it now gives them a chance to produce more delicate work.

"I've always struggled with boho as my work is finer," Luke says. "I have tried to extend myself to be bolder and chunkier, but it's not really my style. It's time for jewellery to become more refined and specific, and not just loads of long necklaces."

Luke looks to the streets, not the catwalk, to inspire her urbane range of pearl, coloured gem, bead, crystal and wire jewellery.

"I find that it's best to travel to London and Paris and check out what people are wearing," she explains. "That's when you really see things."

In contrast to Iron Clay, earthy hues are planned for ARTipelago's coming season, with citrine, green amethyst and smoky quartz all on the agenda. But the major change for Luke's range is the introduction of gold.

"I used to think gold plating was tacky, but my customers in France are asking for it and I'm beginning to really like working with it. I try not to be too interested in trends, but this is a great example of being directed by fashion."

Luke isn't the only person going for gold - the precious metal has been experiencing a renaissance of late. A quick flick through celebrity magazines reveals mountains of the stuff, worn around the neck as medallions or across the wrist in charms of skulls, horses and more whimsical objects.

For fashion-savvy wearers who once favoured silver as their adornment of choice, gold is the new black. The revival has filtered down to the fashion market because designers are working the precious metal into pieces that are chiefly semi-precious.

A gold-plated bead might feature in a garnet necklace, for example, or in a silver bracelet with glass beads.

"There's a definite trend to be seen wearing something a little more precious and glamourous," says Pandora Jewelry representative Jeff Burnes. "Gold is an affordable option for the young market when it's combined with semi-precious materials."

Pandora Jewelry has adopted 14-carat gold as the centrepiece for its newest range of Venetian glass beads. The beads, which fit onto bracelets to create contemporary versions of the classic charm bracelet, have proven to be huge sellers in Europe and the US over autumn/winter.

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"The fashion industry has picked up on gold as a good highlight colour over there," Burnes explains. "The most popular designer handbag right now has gold trimmings, for example."

It seems designer accessories of all kinds are more in vogue than ever. While branded jewellery is another trend relatively new to Australian shores, and it's no surprise that Fossil Australia is leading the charge, given the success the group has experienced with its branded watch products already.

"Branded jewellery is still in its infancy stage in Australia," says Annemiek Ballesty, Fossil Australia, "but people are crazy for it in Europe, and we can expect much of the same here."

Distributing Emporio Armani, Breil, D&G, Diesel and Fossil to jewellery retailers, department stores and brand boutiques, Fossil's design teams works closely to develop fashion jewellery lines that complement the clothing trends for the season.

Interestingly, Fossil releases product in line with the northern hemisphere, and is now launching its spring/summer collections while others launch autumn/winter. It's a strategy, according to Ballesty, that ensures Fossil collections are as new as possible.

"Sometimes it clashes with the Australian seasons," Ballesty says, "but it's better to be ahead of the trends."

Across the board, adventurous blends and inventive materials are en vogue, such as the use of stainless steel and IP plating with pearls and semi-precious gemstones (Breil) and dog tags fashioned from leather and sterling silver, flecks of turquoise, reconstituted red coral and mother of pearl (Diesel).

Not everyone chooses to follow seasonal fashion cycles when creating, stocking or buying fashion jewellery, however: "I'm a little left of centre when it comes to trends," says Hala Francka, director, Hala Francka Jewellery. "I don't even think to place jewellery into seasonal terms. I just let the pieces speak to me and choose what I like."

Francka visits Poland once a year to purchase amber jewellery and other unusual fashion pieces from small design businesses. The "wearable art" is exported to jewellers and design galleries across Australia and New Zealand, including Francka's own NSW gallery.

Although her buying process is largely an intuitive one, she has noticed one trend developing within her own gallery: "Women are going for statement jewellery," Francka says. "Feminine is being embraced yet again, not in the itsy-bitsy floral sense, but with flowing lines, circles and curves.

"The handcrafted, semi-precious market is definitely on the rise. It was once in a weird place because it's more expensive than costume jewellery but it's not fine jewellery either. But people are more educated now. They are really interested in what the stones are, for example, they are really searching for these pieces and they are happy to pay a bit more."

Elegance, depth of colour, golden touches, branded jewellery, inventive materials and organic shapes: it seems everybody has a different take on the style to replace tired ol' boho.

What is known is that the eclectic, ethnic influences that have dominated fashion clothing shelves for years now are making way for items that show more structure and more layering. Tailored suits, balloon sleeves, short dresses paired with skinny leggings and big collars - volume and modishness will soon be as important as embellishment has been. Accompanying all will be a new, more mature kind of fashion jewellery.

Keep an eye out

Picking the trends before they happen can be tricky stuff. Here are some hints to help you get ahead of the pack:

• Head into a newsagency and flick through some high-end women's fashion magazines. Keep an eye out for European titles in particular, since Australia's trends tend to originate in Europe. Note the colours and the shapes of the outfits and consider the gemstones and styles that would tie in well.

• Know your customers, and observe what your market demographic is wearing in the streets.

• A trip to the sidewalks of Europe, the US or even Asia will be expensive, but invaluable for what you may learn.

• Visit the websites of the major fashion houses. It's the big names that generate the season's styles; everybody else just follows.

• Don't overstock on any one colour or design, as fashion trends can often be erratic.

• If you can afford it, subscribe to a fashion forecasting report service to get regular updates on future trends and be ahead of the game. 

• Attend trend-forecasting seminars at tradeshows and fashion festivals where you can learn about prevalent new fashion themes.

• Observe what kind of jewellery the A-list celebrities and "it girls" are sporting. They can be style pioneers and their tastes, quite influential on what your customers will want.

• Learn to identify what stage a particular trend is at before you stock up on it. The trend may be too early, too late, or almost phased-out. Unless your buying reflects this, you will not be successful with the particular fashion mode.

• Go with your gut. It's always a good idea to combine your personal tastes with the fashion information you've already absorbed.










ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gretel Hunnerup
Contributor •

Gretel Hunnerup is a criminology graduate turned freelance journalist writing about lifestyle, crime and justice. She also enjoys covering the arts, fashion and fascinating folk from her base in Melbourne. Her work has appeared in The Age Melbourne Magazine, Herald Sun – Sunday Magazine, Harpers Bazaar and The Vine. She also teaches features writing to Monash University journalism students. In her spare time, Gretel loves bushwalking and trawling op-shops for vintage treasures.
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