The global economic climate was more than tenuous this fall as designers in the world's major fashion hubs sought to change the mood from gloom to glam with previews of their spring '09 collections. The current socio-eco-political climate influenced many designers to seek their comfort zone in fashions expressing ease and confidence—a sport chic attitude. Labels effortlessly gliding from catwalk to sidewalk are those with familiar silhouettes, peppered with interest in playful treatments of pattern, texture, tailoring, and color.
Trends across time zones include asymmetrical hemlines, single shoulder straps, metallics and jeweled embellishment, and layering. Designers looked back to the past for inspiration with special interest in the ‘60s through the ‘80s. Popular design motifs range from flowers to fairy tales to far-off lands. There's a strong bohemian panache celebrating free spirited women, with tribal influences filtered in. Dresses remain key in various types and lengths, and designers revisit cropped pants and jumpsuits . A fusing of crisp tailoring with fluid, transparent draping prevails.
The real mood changer is definitely in the details, particularly couture costume and fine jewelry. In fact, there was more jewelry on the runways, both stateside and abroad, than typically seen, and it wasn't sedate either. Accessories are especially important in a credit crunch, with one statement necklace able to renovate a wardrobe—now that's great value! Bold, colorful jewelry can transform a look on a whim; it's very personal.
“Jewelry is a necessity for women's wardrobes where they use it to define and empower themselves,” says Karen Erickson of Erickson Beamon, New York. Among the spring shows this fashion favorite couture costume and fine jewelry house accessorized were Zac Posen, Tony Cohen and Anna Sui.
The feeling of security and trust speaks volumes in popular color choices for the season. The Pantone Fashion Color Report hails the two favorite shades for designers showing in New York—Palace Blue (classic navy with hint of sparkle) and Lavender (softer, more summery purple) .
“There's a dependability factor with blues and purples, and these particular variations represent spring so well—cool and calm—which encapsulates many colors in Pantone's top 10 for the season,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, who notes that fall '08 has seen blue and purple rise to the forefront of fashion.
The spring palette also signals a return to bright colors as designers incorporate vibrant pops tempered with deeper, translucent or neutral tones. “New York's fashion designers encourage hopeful attitudes with lively colors, while sophisticated, grounded hues address the need for stability in times of economic uncertainty,” details Eiseman.
Yellow continues to make its mark on the fashion world, with a tangy Super Lemon inspiring a fun, optimistic outlook. Salmon Rose conveys happiness and is friendly, approachable and flattering to most complexions. Additional new hues for spring include a cool Fuchsia Red with blue undertones; stabilizing neutrals in a subtle Rose Dust and a Slate Gray with bluish-green undertones; and three greens that suggest freshness and renewal—Vibrant Green, Dark Citron, and Lucite Green.
While these shades represent mid tones, neutrals were prevalent (i.e. iridescent oyster pales, oatmeal, and sand), as well as rich jewel tones like regal purple, zesty orange, poppy red, and lagoon blue—which pop in classic black and white schemes. Color blocking and the gradation of shades known as ombré also are key directions. Some designers even mix graphics (i.e. polka dots with stripes) within the same color scheme.
The color palettes seen in New York translated well on the catwalks of London, Milan and Paris. Choices for European designers were similar, perhaps a bit richer and brighter in tone and saturation.
The optimism of color was translated well in statement-making necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings, even brooches. Although there were many colorful costume pieces, there were lots of gems adorning the collections.
Gem aficionadas were especially taken with Venexiana's show featuring the over-the-top jewels of Henry Dunay, who adorned the couture cocktail dresses and gowns of Italian designer Kati Stern of New York. Among Dunay's 24 show-stopping exclusives were his grand Sabi 18k gold necklaces dangling a golden South Sea pearl and green jade pendant, salmon fluted coral drop, multi-color tourmaline cabochons, and vanilla, spearmint and blue sheen moonstones. There were also some amazing earrings in pearl, moonstone, rubellite, tanzanite, and orange garnet.
Launching his own jewelry line during N.Y. Fashion Week, Malan Breton created gem-set jewelry recapturing nature's primal elements—earth, wind, fire, air, and metal. The gems featured in his jewelry influenced the colors of his apparel including amethyst, aquamarine, blue topaz, lapis, moonstone, citrine, emerald, jade, onyx, tourmaline, iolite, and a dazzling near-white gem selenite. This rising talent on the N.Y. fashion scene showed bold cocktail rings, attention nabbing pendants, towering earrings, and cuff and gem link bracelets in silver.
While Brazilian designer Carlos Miele, another fan of colored stones, featured the gem-set jewelry of fellow compatriot, Juliana Scarpa. Elaborated from the floral colors of Miele's collection, Scarpa designed large rings and bracelets in unexpected shapes that cover the hand and arms with rough and cut stones. The stars of these 3D pieces are all Brazilian, including lavender amethyst, orange citrine, rutilated quartz, rock crystal, morganite, aquamarine, turquoise, onyx and black tourmaline, set in 18k gold. Scarpa's designs flawlessly complement Miele's organic sleek silhouettes that play with lightness, reflection, movement, and color.
Add More Color With Gems
Although there are many creatively colorful choices available in designer costume jewelry, gemstones offer better bang for the buck. There's great variety in gem types and prices in fine jewelry with lasting value.
When it comes to statement necklaces, think gem beads and pearl strands. The art of layering is spot on and can be customized to complement anyone's frame. In some cases, gems like quartz varieties and Chinese freshwater pearls may be more affordable than couture costume pieces—real for less! Long necklaces with gem or pearl tassels, or medallions and pendants are also on trend.
For earrings, drops and chandelier are as popular as hoops—and size is relative to the wearer. Chandelier earrings are big and back due to asymmetrical necklines where necklaces don't work. Bracelets (stacked bangles and big cuffs—gem encrusted, of course) and colorful cocktail rings (either a large center stone or a mix of smaller gems) are in fashion.
But don't fret if your style is less flashy and more delicate. Designers are also having fun creating minute pendants covered in pavé gems, delicate gem drop earrings, and lightweight gem-set rings—equally perfect for layering. Especially in are iconic enlightenment jewels, like pendants or charms in zodiac signs, good luck symbols, and other talisman.
So, seek comfort in the fact that you won't need a new wardrobe this spring, just some amazing gem-set jewelry to update your wardrobe and inspire a new attitude!