More is more
Bolder, brassier and more brazen than ever, the latest jewellery has been scaled up to maximalist proportions. bask in the glow of the season’s swollen sparkler. Words Divya Bala
Right now, jewellery is a big deal. Gargantuan, even. Evidenced in impossible, Wonderland- like scale, we’re talking pearls the size of clementines, bangle stacks that rival the muscle-building power of wrist weights and necklaces that look like the wearer elegantly dismantled an entire chandelier for the purpose.
Put it down to post-lockdown peacocking or a balancing act in response to the ready-to-wear trends of micro miniskirts, belly-baring cut-outs and “flossing fashion” (so named because of its flimsy garments’ resemblance to dental floss), but after a long stretch in which the concept of adornment was little fancier than a pair of AirPods, we’re reaching for accessories that are worth the wait — and the weight, for that matter.
“Joy in explosive volumes” is how Daniel Roseberry, the artistic director of Schiaparelli, described the aesthetic. He was commenting on the luxuriant work of Alber Elbaz in his turn as guest designer for the spring 2022 tribute show for the late designer’s AZ Factory label, but it could have been a comment on his own more-is-more approach to jewels. Roseberry’s look for the show was hardware-heavy, focused on a gold metal half-mask (think “Phantom of the Opera”, not N95) and matching breastplate, suspended over a background of fluttering black silk. Then came Gucci’s spring 2022 offering, which leaned into the season’s kinky side. The creative director Alessandro Michele’s silver butt-plug pendants and anal-bead necklaces (which, on first look, resembled rosaries) may not have been as big, but the statement was no less impactful. At Balmain, creative director Olivier Rousteing took a humble gold curb chain and blew it up to larger-than-life proportions to be worn as a top. The tone was set for a year of ostentatious jewellery.
In practice, this concept of jewellery-as-outfit is something so far only really mastered on the red carpet. See: Elle Fanning in Balmain’s barely there curb-chain piece paired with a simple, floor-sweeping black skirt, or Bella Hadid in a Schiaparelli neckpiece sculpted to resemble gilded lungs. For Rihanna, it was the jangle of thigh-length necklaces she sported throughout the course of her pregnancy tour of Paris, bare bump and all.
This season, designers seem to have re-engineered this maximalist fixation into a more wearable — though no less impressive — scale. The standout pieces for the latest collections, autumn 2022, include Off-White in the aforementioned “chandelier mishap” category that saw Naomi Campbell walking the runway in a necklace-turned-breastplate made from enough faceted glass to sink Murano itself. Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace picked from the pearl orchard to produce cocktail rings, chokers and bauble earrings in bulbous proportions. At Prabal Gurung, pearls returned to standard size but were beaded into fully embellished ear jackets with lengthy strands that brushed the jawbone. In fashion, as in life, the ears were something of a G-spot for the season, with origami-esque ear decor at Burberry, collarbone-grazing skeleton earrings at Raf Simons and telephone-sized (landline, not mobile) chrome plates at Courrèges. Fans of Loewe and Saint Laurent would be advised to not skip arm day at the gym, as the houses proposed chunky, sculptural cuffs either so overblown as to command isolation or stacked so fully as to give the wearer an almost gladiatorial power. And, in time, greater muscle definition.
Jewellery so often acts as a marker or conduit for memory, its long-lasting legacy providing a greater catchment area in which to accumulate emotions and stories. The magpie effect it instils in us is an intrinsic part of the charm; the bigger, brighter and more scintillating the charms, perhaps so too are the memories we create while wearing them. After a slew of dark times, there’s something optimistic about indulging in hedonic design and the possibility of frivolity. We’re attracted to jewellery because of its lack of function; its boundlessness and fun. There’s nothing like an eye-catching bit of glitter to provide a diversion from the practicality of the everyday, instead allowing us to indulge in beauty for beauty’s sake. There’s even a hint of rebellion about it.
Perhaps most importantly, statement jewellery spotlights the body part it adorns. Consider your attraction to oversized earrings or necklaces — these attention-seeking styles draw eyes to the face, our communication centre. After long stretches of isolation, social bubbles and never-ending talk of the grim state of the world, who wouldn’t want to shed a little refracted light on things courtesy of, say, an iceberg-sized cocktail ring?
This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our fifth edition, Page 132 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “More is more”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.