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HSN Accessories Preview: Gastineaus, Fair Trade, and Lulu Guinness

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Full disclosure: With the exception of our beloved straightening iron, the Maxiglide, we've never bought anything from HSN, formerly known as The Home Shopping Network. We assumed that their fashions weren't quite our style, although we've always liked the idea of being able to shop at 3AM in our underwear. But when were invited to attend the HSN's Glam Accessories press event in Midtown Manhattan yesterday, and saw that the participants included names like Badgley Mischka and Iris Apfel, we thought that perhaps the time had come to be a little more open-minded and expand our shopping repertoire.

The event included stations displaying accessories from more than twenty HSN brands. Lines by network regulars, like Twiggy and Iman were represented, but the one we were most excited to spot, was for British handbag designer, Lulu Guinness, who will be debuting a line of purses and accessories in September. While some designers' HSN collections seem to differ dramatically from their higher end lines, the chic whimsical styles, boutique prices and sleek leathers of the Lulu Guinness sample bags, were pretty similar to those found in the designer's own shops. We even heard that some pieces in the upcoming HSN collection will be reissues of classic Guinness purses. We loved the Patent Leather Franka Bag ($465) and salivated over the cute Snakeskin Union Jack Lip Clutch ($435). The line also includes fun embellished zip top purses for $87 and pouches for $45. We suspect that some of these bags might cost more than what the average HSN shopper is used to spending, but we're willing to bet that they'll be snatched up quickly, particularly by women who haven't previously been exposed to the brand.

Another HSN line we were intrigued by was Bajalia, who sell exotic jewelry made by women in Third World countries. Founded by Debbie Farah, who was recognized as one of Newsweek's "50 Women Who Shake the World," the brand is the only fair trade company currently selling on HSN. Farah's goal is to help alleviate poverty—one entrepreneur at a time. Bajalia creates designs for the locals in places like Rwanda and Uganda to manufacture, based on the skills they already have. Farah showed us some interesting pieces, including the striking Asman Wide Two Tone Cuff with Coral and Turquoise ($99.95) which debuts in August.

Swinging our pendulum from fair trade to glitzy glam, another brand we checked out, was the Gastineau Glamour Collection. Yes, Gastineau as in The Gastineau Girls. We chatted with mom Lisa, who was feeling a bit battered after flying from a Mother's Day celebration in France, to an on-air appearance at HSN headquarters, and then to NYC for this event. Ah, to lead the challenging lives of the rich and relatively famous. Lisa was actually quite sweet and explained that the Gastineau line strives to present modern interpretations of vintage jewelry styles. Although its prices go up to $495—for a limited edition pink sapphire and genuine stingray bracelet (yes, you read correctly, stingray), our favorite pieces were the much cheaper stackable rings, including a cute one with a tiny dangling Star of David, for $49.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, we learned that we'd just missed the appearance by Mark Badgley and James Mischka, who design fairly mainstream accessories and ready-to-wear lines for the network. Iris Apfel was there, however, debuting her fun, new Rara Avis jewelry collection. But our favorite item, aside from that Lulu Guinness Lips clutch, was by jewelry designer R.J. Graziano. His striking Bedazzle Me necklace, in gunmetal, debuts in August for $79.99. We suspect it may be the item that officially turns us into HSN fashion shoppers.
· HSN [Official Site]