Details, Details Models Were Strutting St. Louis Stuff at New York Fashion Shows

By Becky Homan Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 27, 1996 | Go to article overview

Details, Details Models Were Strutting St. Louis Stuff at New York Fashion Shows


Becky Homan Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


IT IS THE YEAR of the accessory.

That's according to accessories makers, of course, who wish that every year in fashion was an accessories year.

But this year happens to be one.

Designers ranging from Anna Sui to Gucci's Tom Ford to Linda Allard for Ellen Tracy have loaded down their runway models with handbags, necklaces, scarves, gloves and hats.

On the heels of recent minimalist seasons, when shoes were about the only extras that models dared to wear, the shows for fall '96 are practically a glut of accessory items.

Retailers are delighted.

They know that shoppers are likely to find something new and affordable in their stores.

And not the least of the fashion newcomers for fall will be the shoes.

Fall shipments that are beginning to arrive in St. Louis stores are packed with new-looking, square-toed, shiny or sueded and buckled shoe styles, supported by strong chunky heels.

And there's a St. Louis connection to fall's fashion bonanza of accessories.

It is Wolff Shoe Co., now the exclusive maker of the Ellen Tracy line of footwear.

On Tracy's New York runway for fall, Wolff shoes displayed the chunkiest of heels, frequently behind a wingtipped, laced-up, square-toed style called Crystal.

There was also a slip-on pump - with rounded toe and chunky heel - called Palma.

Plenty of the Wolff shoes for fall at Ellen Tracy also show up in a high-luster finish, sometimes smooth, other times stamped with a crocodile finish, but one that's "tailored and very suitable for an alternative to suede," says Dick Mecfessel, Wolff's managing director.

Sitting in Wolff's showroom in Fenton the other day, Mecfessel was surrounded by next spring's Ellen Tracy styles.

There were mesh insets everywhere, more of the high-gloss leather and a sling-back, square-toed loafer that looked as new as anything else on his floor.

"Where there are new materials, that's where I see new interest in accessories," says Mecfessel, speaking of next spring, as well as the coming fall season, And then there's the addition this fall of fat heels and square or rounded toes.

"We wanted a broader heel seat and toe," Mecfessel says. "As I look at the woman today, I see an interest in functionality, because behind fashion there has to be comfort. We try to include that thinking in the design of our footwear."

How Wolff - an 85-year-old St. Louis company and owner of Marmi shoe stores - came to make the Tracy line was simple, as Mecfessel puts it.

The Tracy company got in touch with Wolff more than a year ago. Wolff's offices in Trump Tower in New York, its factory in Italy, and its design and distribution center in St. Louis were ideal for the clothing firm.

This is Wolff's second fall shoe line for Tracy.

"Ellen Tracy clothing is investment clothing that's comfortable," Mecfessel says. "We're trying to coordinate our shoe styles, to make them tasteful, like the clothing."

Tailored clothing also inspires other fall accessory styles - many of which were on display at a market-week exhibit of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Hats, for instance, are shaped as tailored fedoras or other high-crowned toppers to "extend the length of a silhouette that showed on the runways," says hat designer Patricia Underwood, referring to "the '70s-inspired clothes with high armholes, narrow, long shapes, sort of the maxi look that's still narrow on the hip.

"A lot of the clothes are a perfect canvas for accessories."

"The designs now are wonderfully tailored, slightly more engineered. There are not so many more slip dresses," she adds. "It's hard to put an accessory on a slip dress. It's so clean."

Ranges of brown, meanwhile, are key colors in the fall hat collections of Underwood and others.

With plums, navies and loden greens - plus browns - as key colors in the clothes, brown accessories make a lot of sense, according to Underwood. …

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