Necklaces & Knuckledusters

A book review of Fashion Jewelry: Catwalk and Couture

“Jewellery is such a wonderful way to celebrate being human – this strangeness of mind and body, imagination and matter.” // Florian Ladstätter

Before I began reading Maia Adams’ Fashion Jewelry: Catwalk and Couture, I spent a good couple of hours flipping through its pages, drooling over photograph after photograph of crazy-beautiful jewelry pieces. After musing on the no doubt amazing collection of DIY jewelry I was inspired to create (someday… sigh), I finally began to read the book.

Fashion Jewelry showcases 33 catwalk and couture jewelry designers, each illustrated with sketches and photographs of their work. Many of these jewelers have collaborated with fashion moguls and a variety of clothing, footwear and sportswear brands, from the late Alexander McQueen to Dr. Martens. The book delves into the inspirations behind their craft, focusing on the eclectic mix of contemporary and classic methods of jewelry-making.

The couture pieces featured are not your traditional gold and silver, diamond and ruby-coated jewelry; their designers experiment and work with an array of unusual materials. The jewelers of Annabcn often pair pearls with fabrics like suede, silk, tulle and felt alongside PVC and enamel, and they also use natural materials such as coral, snail shells, seeds and branches to create their line of accessories. Canadian designer Arielle De Pinto does the intricate work of hand-crocheting metal chains to create her exquisite pieces. Materials aside, the jewelers featured in this book find inspiration in everything from the mundane to the eccentric. A particular favorite, Swiss jewelers David & Martin, craft designs influenced by “art house film, contemporary art and chickens.” Their 2005 Chicken Feet collection was inspired “after spotting a very pretty girl on a Shanghai subway munching deep-fried chicken and simultaneously flicking through French Vogue.”

I was pleased to see that the adornments featured were not restricted to feminine aesthetics. Although I personally thought that many items would appeal to both sexes, many jewelers did in fact target their work toward men. London-born Daisuke Sakaguchi’s line of pendants, necklaces, knuckledusters and bracelets is inspired by a mixture of his Japanese heritage and hip-hop and street culture. From Comme des Garçons to Nike and Adidas, Sakaguchi has earned a fine reputation for blending the worlds of sports and fashion.

At first glance, certain items seem better suited for the runway than a gala: earrings made of bones encrusted with crystals and chains? Think Wilma Flintstone in the Gilded Age. Yet I was amazed at how these bits and pieces added pizzazz to an outfit. Adams notes convincingly that in financially-straightened times like ours, investing in a bit of bling goes a long way in transforming a look.

Fashion Jewelry pays homage to many jewelry designers, both popular and relatively obscure. If not merely for its lush photographs (jewelry porn at its best), I recommend this book for those interested in getting a glimpse into the renaissance of jewelry culture and the artistry behind these ornamental pieces of work.

further reading // Fashion Jewelry: Catwalk and Couture by Maia Adams // Laurence-King // 2010
Reviewed // Aseema Kabir

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