The Big ‘Bang (le)’ Theory

So the question is following on the heels of those ubiquitous and ever popular pins and brooches that burst on the scene this fall, what’s the ‘Next Big’ accessory? According to Neiman Marcus it’s all about bangles, bracelets, and cuffs like the ones that decorated the arms of Sandra Wilson (Accessories Fashion Director) at her recent spring summer 2005 accessory preview, held at the Chambers Hotel. (Just a note, N-M still believes in pins, but the pins they favor this time are likely to resemble estate jewelry or vintage collectibles).

Ms. Wilson is always the walking embodiment of the retailer’s accessory philosophy, particularly at this highly visual twice-yearly editors’ preview. And this time was no exception, as she happily ‘modeled’ armloads of beauties many of which are ‘exclusives’–see photo top — from the likes of Lee Angel, Stephen Dweck, and Mark Davis (whose exotic and exceptionally textural bakelite and diamante assortment sell from about $3,000 to $5,000). Ms. Wilson also feels very strongly for beads and necklaces (like one truly exceptional beauty from Stephen Dweck that could also do double duty as a belt. Talk about versatile).

Regardless of the category, the thread throughout the exhibit is ‘exotica’, which sums up the mood for the coming season. It is something that was very evident during the spring/summer 2005 ready to wear collections, and is perfectly captured by the entire accessory story. Exotic and exotica are words that Sandra used over and over to explain the current ‘message’ as she took me from display to display, each one bursting with fabulous jewelry, bags (from Prada, Gucci, Jonathan Adler, Juicy Couture, Roberto Cavalli, etc.), scarves, hats, and shoes (culminating in a veritable “ascending staircase” of ankle tied rope soled platform espadrilles). The whole ‘trip’ (and it’s always a trip when Neiman’s puts their accessories preview together) was like taking a “virtual world tour” without leaving town. And that is precisely the point of these accessories. They are meant to transport you to another place and time or of course, simply help you look and feel fab!

Even the somewhat exotic color story sums this up. While brights (particularly pinks and oranges) are still favorite accent shades, what decidedly looks the best are the entire range of blues inspired by the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas (Sandra singled out ‘pale aqua’ as the newest of this group), luxurious corals, and vegetable dye hues like saffron, curry, ochre which were seemingly plucked from spice racks in some glorious and faraway locale. It’s all-perfect for the “global traveler”, which is how Neiman’s obviously envisualizes its customer.

What else does Neiman Marcus feel strongly about? “Sparkle, but NOT bling” decreed Ms. Wilson (as in gold, crystals, beads); python and snake; and leopard patterns (very Roberto Cavalli, no? Perfect timing with the just opened ‘Wild: Fashion Untamed’ exhibit at the Met’s Costume Institute). By the way, the neutral shades of snakeskin, zebra, and leopard look AMAZING with semi precious stones like turquoise and coral. What’s important is that this look embraces an eclectic, rich bohemian, individual, personal, and vintage aesthetic, and is one that relies on items that resemble one of a kind treasures (again, it all goes back to the idea of wonderful collectibles picked up by a “global traveler” as she encircles the globe).

And as if to heighten the overall exotic effect, displayed alongside the accessories on both floors of the duplex suite, were Adrienne Landau’s marvelous heavily jewel encrusted silk organza ‘kurtas’ (short caftans) which for me are THE item to have for next season (grab them now if you can as they are perfect for the holidays!) As you know, I have been talking about caftans and caftan tops since last summer. They are timeless, chic, festive, versatile and easily go from day to night. And because Adrienne’s already have jewels affixed to them, you don’t even have to add any other accessories. Talk about being able to get dressed in a hurry. That’s what I call modern!

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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