Colgate Couture – The Bolder, The Better

Laura Stoloff

Sweet, sophisticated and truly feminine. Jewelry represents status and style is making its mark on the spring 2009 runways at Dries Van Noten, Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui, Giambattista Valli and Christian Lacroix. Forget the traditional, delicate charms and small trinkets, and dare to bear bold in statement earrings and necklaces.

Last year, bold jewelry made a strong presence on the runways, but a change in pairing makes all the difference this spring. In 2008, jewelry stole the show in combination with subtle colors and few prints. This year, the eye cannot lend focus to one item of clothing or accessory. It’s a sensory overload. The time has come to experiment in one of fashion’s oldest favorites. Instead of playing down in basics, fuse wildly bold prints and colorful clothing with extraordinary jewels.

Mix it up. Designers brought different forms and colors to the runways, everything from geometric shapes, to exotic and ethnic inspirations and rich colors in the form of stones and gems. Ralph Lauren depicted the sophisticated traveler with inspiration from North Africa. Collared necklaces with dangling jewels in ruby, pearl and teal accented the safari-style gear. Anna Sui also went global with a more south-of-the-border feel, favoring ethnic inspired beading. The models rocked costume jewelry by Erickson Beamon in marine and aqua blues, tangerine orange and canary yellow. Sui left no room for boredom mixing tribal-cool with bold prints.

For the city sophisticate, Giambattista Valli and Christian Lacroix showed avant-garde designs. Valli featured loud silver necklaces paired with black dresses; the oversized silver bows hung tightly around the neck in less than perfect shapes. Christian Lacroix embraced modernity with bold necklaces strung with large glass balls and flower appliqués.

Bangles prove the best way to make a statement in your spring wardrobe. Look for bracelets in cheetah, zebra and snakeskin patterns. Louis Vuitton’s wood bangle in cheetah print will put an instant spring into your step. For bangles that won’t break the bank, Kim Isacs Ohn For Clever Carriage Company makes a cow-hair bangle perfect for that bright mini.

In the grand tradition of Damien Hirst, jewelry like art has gone to the masses. Focus on the up and coming designers rather than the mass-produced pieces seen on the ad pages of every fashion magazine. Unique jewelry, like art, is an expression of the self. Wendy Nichol, based in New York, uses her daughter to model her feminine–think crystal beads and silk bows–yet rock-and-roll pieces. Nichol uses vintage Austrian glass beads circa 1950 to make triple strand necklaces accented with gold and silver cone studs.

Everyone loves a gossip girl. Gemma Redux, by designer Rachel Dooley, created the Serena Necklace, named after Serena van der Woodsen of course. New York-based Dooley hand makes her necklaces with a unique mix of stainless and sterling silver chains strewn with green and blue turquoise beads.

And there’s Alexis Bittar, who creates handcrafted jewelry out of his signature Lucite. A fixture in department stores and boutiques, his pieces always call for immediate attention. Bittar, based in Brooklyn, uses the prettiest of materials: crystal stones and gold.

Don’t wait until spring. Bold jewelry has arrived and is here to stay. If the mix of prints and over-the-top jewelry frightens you, there’s always the choice of pairing statement pieces with jeans and a tee. So take a ride on the wild side. The bigger, the better.