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OFF THE CUFF

Feet First Into Trends but Stuck on Old Jewelry

June 01, 1995

Q uick, somebody call Imelda Marcos! Garys Per Donna has opened in Fashion Island Newport Beach, lining its shelves with 5,000 pairs of women's shoes.

Elyse Roberts, the store's fashion director, says the emphasis is on Italian and New York designers: Gucci, Joseph Abboud, Ralph Lauren Collection, Comoedia and Graviti--all Marcos favorites.

The store also carries costume jewelry from the '20s, '30s and '40s.

This is another in a series of first-person columns that allow people connected to the fashion industry to talk about their encounters.

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There's a real pent-up desire in Orange County for crocodile shoes. Really! Women here want a shoe that's livable and stylish. They want to look at shoes seen on the runway, but if they're on their feet all day, as I am, they want comfort too.

We have unique shoes here, plus we have our private label designed in Italy. Our owner, Dick Braeger, who was a founder of Cole-Haan, goes with me to Milan and Florence. We work with factories there to produce our label. Besides footwear, we have handbags, hosiery, other accessories, gifts and antique jewelry.

When I was 17 and living in Kansas City, I worked at a store that sold jewelry. I have been around antique jewelry since I was a kid, buying it and searching it out at antique shows. I love to tell customers the story behind the jewelry, how it was worn a century ago and how to wear it today.

There are great ways to wear old things to make them look in style. It's especially fun if it's your grandmother's . . . or if it looks as if it were.

Antique jewelry has always been my passion, and now it's having a wider appeal. This is a day and age when people are worried about wearing large jewelry. They don't want to be ostentatious, and they want something that's classic and individual.

In the '80s, everyone was more ostentatious: They wanted bigger and better. Now everything's gone back to elegance. In jewelry, what matters is beauty, not how huge the stones are.

Our look is an international look. There's an elegance to the ballet flats that Audrey Hepburn wore or the bags Grace Kelly carried. Women want to know about trends, not fads.

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