- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Busy bees, delicate ladybugs and other winsome critters are just as likely to be found dangling around the necks of the fashionable as crawling up your leg at a summer barbecue these days and are sure to be buzzing around come September.

“Fashion has always been inspired by natural surroundings. Insects prove to be both interesting and beautiful, ranging from the silhouette to the color and texture,” says Target Corp. spokesman Joshua Thomas.

Target’s Mossimo chain purse featuring a butterfly motif is one of many examples of the charm insects bring to fashion.

Insect-themed accessories from brooches to pendants to handbags appeal across generational lines and can be found everywhere from sidewalk boutiques to major department stores.

At Ann Hand LLC, one of Washington’s premier jewelry shops, Mrs. Hand’s granddaughter Ashley Taylor, who helps manage the business, says their signature ladybug pin — complete with a “romance card” — is a favorite for gifts.

“In many cultures, the ladybug is believed to bring good luck. Good fortune is yours if one happens to land on you,” the romance card reads.

Miss Taylor explains that insect brooches in particular are best worn in clusters on a dress or suit jacket a la first lady Michelle Obama, rather than as a singular piece.

Allison Priebe Brooks, the Alexandria jeweler behind the popular Queen Bee Designs, is a fan of the LaRo clip and says insect pieces — such as her dragonfly brooch — can be fastened onto a pearl necklace or chain, adding instant panache.

A LaRo clip also can be used on a scarf or to kick up a black evening bag.

Mrs. Brooks says she decided to name her business after the bee because, like the ladybug, it is not just a style icon, but also a personal motivator to many women.

“The bee means many things to many people. The bee has a big body and tiny wings, so the only way it can fly is through sheer determination and will,” she says.

Since the era of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made the bumblebee his personal symbol, the bee motif has been seen not just on jewelry, but also on stationery and cosmetics. It is seen by many as an emblem of French national pride.

Jewelry designer Andrew Hamilton Crawford says the butterfly also has found its wings on baubles: “Moved by the beauty of nature, the butterfly-wing pendant and butterfly ring were created to honor nature’s most beautiful and endearing creature. These items are great to wear for the summer and will surely brighten up your attire in the seasons to follow.”

Style watchers say although insects are associated with spring and summer, they are just as stylish in the fall.

“I think you’ll see a lot more edgier insects this fall, like spiders and beetles, ” Mrs. Brooks says.

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