Thursday, February 28, 2013


Early Etro camel-and-maroon shawl was an accent for Bill Atkinson Ltd. fashions

Atkinson's beautiful Etro shawls have been housed in their drawers in recent years, at times taken out and worn, but mostly they have just nestled in with other wonderful memories of her days as the dynamic CEO of Bill Atkinson Ltd.,  1974 though 1982.  These were the years when Ms. Atkinson's late husband Bill was the Coty-award-winning creative director and heart and soul of the designer sportswear company that kept customers of the best specialty stores in America beautifully dressed.   Ms. Atkinson merchandised the line, got it manufactured, sold to the stores and then flew around the country twice a year, doing the personal appearances that went along with the trunk shows.  This plus caring for a husband, two children and a big house.

During the late 70s and early 80s, Mr. Atkinson really believed in the magic of the shawl.  His wife thinks this shawl magic was ignited when the designer disappeared into Italy for a month.  When he had emerged again, he told stories of  spending time with Gimmo Etro, about falling in love with the paisley patterns, the Italian workmanship. He also produced a deal allowing his company to distribute the shawls in the states.  During these early years, the shawls bore no logos.

It had become sort of expected of Bill Atkinson, that he would pair beautiful Etro shawls with his fall-winter fashion collections.  The camel-and-maroon shawl shown here marched down the New York Fashion Week runway with a reddish-brown suede jacket and a sweep of black suede skirt with vertical bands of brown. For added charm, the designer had a paisley pattern cut out on the shawl collar of the jacket.  To Mr. Atkinson's educated eye, shawl and separates colors were meant to blend but never, never match. The sienna brown of the jacket and true brown of the skirt details just lived happily with the earth colors in their shawl. 

The shawl we show has always been one of Ms. Atkinson's favorites.  Now as manager and member of Global Marketing Strategies LLC in New York, she enjoys wearing the shawls and separates occasionally.  When last I saw her, she looked very 2013 in one of the Bill Atkinson gentle black suede skirts with a black jersey top and graceful gold-chain necklace. When she went out for her day, she could easily have added the shawl. JP