Accessories have become THE most popular, highly watched, and growing area within fashion retail, and the subject of an ongoing love affair and obsession by fashion editors and customers alike. And all for good reason. Vignettes set up at the Chanel exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, illustrate and exemplify the way in which belts, bags, shoes, jewelry, can be quickly called into service and literally transform the mood and look of a simple sweater and pant. www.style.com’s ‘Style Notes: Chanel A to Z’ borrow a quote from Christian Dior (regarding Coco), that exemplifies this perfectly: “She revolutionized fashion with a black sweater and 10 rows of pearls.” So it’s hardly surprising that the Neiman Marcus Accessory Press Preview has become more important each season.
Once set up within the luxury retailer’s New York offices located right off 7th avenue — in the heart of the garment center — it is now an orchestrated, theatrical, and catered production which takes place in a terraced duplex suite at the chic and fashionable Chambers Hotel, right off 56th street and 5th avenue. Hosted as always by Ken Downing, Neiman’s Vice President, Corporate Public Relations/Fashion Presentation, and Sandra Wilson, Accessories Fashion Director, it’s a great way to see the best of the best under one roof. It is something I look forward to and the duo never disappoints.
When I showed up for my appointment, I was ‘teamed’ with an editor from Harper’s Bazaar. And no, it was not the magazine’s accessories or fashion director, but Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief, who proved to be down to earth, animated, and thoroughly enthusiastic throughout the session (she certainly loves accessories!), heaping praise on both Ken and Sandra for their wonderful selections and the way in which everything was displayed and put together.
Dressed in a very ‘of the moment’ neutral toned Prada pleated skirt, grommeted Christian Dior tan suede jacket, and knee high brown suede low heeled boots, she accessorized with a gold and jeweled ‘lariat’ and Verdura’s gold watch/charm bracelet (which Sandra and myself both eyed with envy).
As usual, the hotel suite is divided into separate vignettes where the selected objects of desire are arranged by color story or mood, though Ms. Wilson did note that this season, there was no ONE ‘umbrella’ to hitch the story on, nor was there one specific trend (something which played out in ready to wear during the last round of shows) but rather, many different sub trends.
The first group was the toned down metallics, more subdued and subtle than last season’s, with a Renaissance feeling (not to mention a touch of Russian/Chekhov/Romanoff which gave it somewhat of a 70’s YSL vibe). Sandra said that the Prada travel case (a shape was shown throughout) with the Mulberry bag on top exemplified this feeling and looked “ready to take away on a jet”. She also pointed to the crushed down pewter Marc Jacobs boots that she said would look great with jeans or anything else for that matter. Sandra also spoke about the trend in iconic religious symbols, represented by the Oscar de la Renta mules embroidered with Maltese crosses.
As for color stories, though Ms Wilson loves the whole range of wines and burgundy (which is very ‘Renaissance’ and regal, after all), the big news this season is the entire family of blues…shades of blue ranging from pale aqua (as seen at Balenciaga and Rochas) to deep navy blue (represented by the high heeled Roger Vivier pilgrim pump). But the store’s favorite group is the clear and vivid peacocks and teals.
Another newsworthy story for fall is that Gucci is launching a ring collection (oversized cocktail rings were modeled in multiples by Sandra). Another nice surprise is the change underfoot (pardon the pun) at Cole Haan which was illustrated by their smashing, couture like, intricately embroidered boot. Who would have thought? Certainly, it sparked Glenda’s interest and Sandra even described another boot (a brocade shoe boot) which she felt merits looking into by the editor and her staff. By the way, it’s worth noting that Cole Haan, www.colehaan.com, is one more in a growing list of well established leather goods companies whose image is benefiting from a make-over as of late.
Furs are naturally another very big story for fall 2005 and Neiman Marcus feels strongly for Mongolian lamb (like Anne Dee Goldin’s chic and sporty zip front white lamb vest which prompted Glenda to exclaim, “My team would go crazy over that”). Ms. Wilson also noted she loves broadtail, especially colored broadtail, and made a point of fur’s whimsical linings (such as Kassin’s butterfly print) that are another big trend.
When Ms. Bailey surveyed a group of Manolo Blahnik shoes, she immediately praised Neiman Marcus for the way they work with the iconic shoe legend to come up with 10 special shoes each year (that are exclusive to them). “It’s so wise” Glenda remarked. Ms. Wilson also said she loves the idea of the open toed platform and adores “a touch of color on the foot.”
Speaking of shoes, last season, for spring/summer, it was all about wedge soled espadrilles, which were displayed “up the stairs” of the suite. This time around, it’s “up the stairs with the flat boot” exemplified by covetable selections from Prada, Christian Dior, and Chanel amongst others. By the way, when the conversation found its way back to bags, Glenda said she felt there were two ‘It Bags’ this season: “the Gucci and the Chanel 255” (a re-issue of the iconic quilted bag, so–named as it was created in February 1955).
The last room was all about black “Black is THE story but not your basic black” effused Sandra. It’s all about the mix of textures, velvet, fur, broadtail, patent leather, jet beads (like those from Jose Barrera, Lee Angel, and Stephen Dweck) AND the return of the black bag (which we haven’t seen making that much of a statement in recent years.. Ms. Wilson singled out those from Tanner Krolle).
Last but not least, it was out to the terrace to see their “glacial story”- ski inspired shearling boots, furry mukluks, fur vests, fur hats, Manolo Blahnik’s version of a Timberland boot complete with chinchilla trim, and variations on the Moon Boot. What can I say; I can hardly wait for the weather to turn cold!
Throughout the preview, there were many pieces of jewelry by the very popular David Yurman who is currently celebrating his 25th anniversary in business. While, alas, there were may not have been any David Yurman trinkets in the gift bag everyone is handled upon leaving, (and I won’t divulge precisely what we received) the Neiman Marcus shopping bag was filled to the brim, as usual, with a covetable variety of thoughtfully selected make-up products, leather goods, scarves, perfume, and more, from highly sought after houses. It’s a wonderful added bonus and a class act all the way!