Accessories, all areas: tie your look together
Parfois, one of the world’s leading accessories companies, has new items every week
Watch €34.99, spicy Mumbai bracelet €9.99, stainless steel bracelet €22.99, bag €27.99, skirt €34.99, jacket €49.99. All from Parfois.
From Melania Trump’s pith helmet in Kenya and “hurricane” stilettos in Houston, Theresa May’s leopard print pumps and Frida Kahlo bracelet (for that coughing fit) to Madeleine Albright’s famous “conversation brooches”, accessories have their own subliminal language that women in the limelight know well. Powerful figures like Albright, as US secretary of state, used hers going into strategic negotiations to good effect, but the pith helmet and stilettos were certainly controversial and questioned the current first lady’s judgment.
Accessories distract the gaze and divert attention away from an otherwise plain or prudent canvas. May is forthright about her love of footwear and sees her shoes often as “icebreakers”. More than punctuation points of good dressing, accessories are potent tools, add versatility and zest, can restyle and renew a well-worn outfit, insert colour to an otherwise dull ensemble or tie a whole look together.
A beret, a colourful scarf, a bold handbag or eye-catching shoes can be transformative – or conversely, highlight poor choices. What did that pith helmet with its colonial-era white-Kenya associations say about Trump’s choice?
At a recent presentation in Madrid by Parfois, one of the world’s most successful accessories companies, global director Susana Coerver demonstrated the various ways in which their accessories make a statement in design, originality, quality and affordability. With almost 1,000 stores worldwide and an 80 per cent female workforce, the company delivers €306 million in annual sales and continues to grow.
It has a big design team, many of whom are fashion and fine arts graduates, based in Porto, where Parfois started life as a concept store 24 years ago. The team creates prototypes daily – jewellery, bags, shoes and hats which then go into production elsewhere in the right materials to be sold at the right prices. We saw bags and jewellery being assembled, designs for scarves made up on computer systems all in one morning. New items are delivered to the stores every week.
A recent project was the creation of a “butterfly” silk scarf, a bold image in arresting colours which took over a year to produce – many of the Parfois staff wearing it bandanna style – and sold for €29.99.
A complete 100 per cent of its sales went to organisations fighting breast cancer and it sold out after a Parfois #ButterflyEffect campaign to wear it on October 19th. “It was a small gesture with a big effect,” said Coerver.
The company has six stores in Ireland, in Blanchardstown, Cork, Swords, Kildare, Limerick and Dublin Airport, though none in the UK. There are plans to expand here as well as reopen the store in Henry Street before Christmas.
In the meantime, there are plenty of attractive offerings at budget prices – jewellery from €8, bags from €19.99, ankle boots from €30 and a range of clothes, “a backdrop to our accessories”, according to Coerver, that include black-and-white giraffe-print tunics, soft yellow faux-sheepskin bomber jackets and snake-print dresses.
The best selling item in Ireland is a rose gold watch that looks more than its €29.99 price tag.