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Accessories Trend: The New Normal

A new jewelry lexicon is emerging as designers rework traditional shapes into novel and quirkily cool pieces.

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Yossi Harari's ear hug; Jack Vartanian's ear cuff; Jennifer Zeuner's double ring; AS29's hand ring; Rebecca Minkoff's palm cuff; Yeprem's hand piece; Pamela Love's chain ring.

Thomas Iannaccone

Call Webster’s Dictionary — the jewelry world has a new vocabulary. Ear cuffs, hand bracelets, midi-rings and more are joining the ranks of earrings, necklaces and bracelets as everyday staples. “I wear my ear cuff every single day and basically just take it off to shower,” said Michelle Campbell Mason, designer of Campbell. “That’s what we always hope to achieve with our brand — finding one more place you can stack jewelry.”

Despite the recent surge in popularity, most designers attribute the more-is-more aesthetic to ancient times. “We’re actually going back thousands of years when ear cuffs were used as adornments,” said Anita Ko. “Back then, people didn’t pierce as often as they do now. We’re really bringing it back — I’m just putting a modern twist on it.” Ko’s stackable ear cuffs have appeared on celebrities such as Emma Watson, Zoë Kravitz and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley; Suki Waterhouse and Joan Smalls each wore several to the recent Met ball. “What’s cool about ear cuffs is you can wear one or five,” she said. “It’s something that every girl can wear to express herself.…A classic diamond earring, a pearl stud — we’re beyond that.”

Paula Mendoza looked to Egypt when designing her first piece, a snakelike beaded bracelet that wraps up the hand. Now considered her signature item, it comes in a variety of styles including chokers, rings and earrings. “The trend is to adorn your body,” said Mendoza. “Women want to wrap their whole ears and hands, and eventually their whole body. I see a real Egyptian tradition reflected in that.”

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AS29’s Audrey Savransky cited tattoos and piercings as inspiration for her collection, which features several variations on the ring, including pinky, thumb and multifinger styles. Beyond designing, a large part of Savransky’s process is constructing a piece so that it seamlessly fits into a woman’s daily wardrobe. “The technicality side is more complicated,” she said of her uniquely placed rings. “If the piece is too complicated, people will not wear it.”

Pamela Love agreed. “It’s extremely important that they are comfortable and function well,” she said. “If the wearer isn’t comfortable in it, you can tell. These statement pieces need to seem effortless, otherwise it looks too trying.” Jennifer Fisher also echoed the thought when discussing her latest accessory obsession: chokers. “Comfort is everything, especially with something wrapped tightly around your neck,” she said. “I have found that making the pieces malleable is the key to comfort with my chokers.”

As ear cuffs and stacked rings become less of a trend and more a staple, Fisher and other designers have found themselves searching for the next body part to bejewel. The choker, done in various iterations and materials, is well on its way to becoming the new ‘It’ accessory. “When something is really tight around your neck it sort of gives off a sophisticated appearance,” said Khai Khai’s Haim Medine. “We’re starting to see a lot of people wearing it and it’s really on the cusp of blowing up.” Despite his fine jewelry prices, Medine has seen no customer hesitation when it comes to trying out the latest looks. “It really depends on what the woman has in her jewelry box,” he said. “A lot already have their rings and their bracelets and they want to branch out and try something new and a little more fashion centric.”

Thus the pressure is on to come up with the latest and greatest — and most unusual — design. “You want to stay ahead of the ball and think of innovative pieces,” Mendoza said. “Every time I try to design simple pieces, I end up with something even more complicated. Now I struggle to design a simple piece — I can’t do it.”

MODEL: MASHA D./NEW YORK MODEL MANAGEMENT; HAIR BY DAMIAN MONZILLO USING DAVINES; MAKEUP BY CHEYENNE TIMPERIO USING DIOR BEAUTY; MANICURE BY GERRY HOLFORD USING DIOR VERNIS, ALL AT ARTMIX BEAUTY; TIBI’S POLYESTER, COTTON AND SILK DRESS; FASHION ASSISTANT: ASHLEY DAVIS

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