It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that a maximalist trend has been gathering pace for a few seasons now. Just as clothes have become brasher and bolder, so too have jewels, with 2017 set to be the year we fell in love with larger-than-life costume jewellery again.
At Balenciaga’s spring 2017 catwalk show, it was impossible to ignore the unfastened metal and crystal necklaces swinging across the models’ chests. There were mismatched disc-shaped earrings upholstered to match the pieces they were worn with, and enormous brooches in diamanté. I don’t think I was alone in finding my gaze drawn as much towards the jewels as the clothes.
The upcoming season is a feast for fans of costume jewellery, even if not everything on the table is available for the feasting. These are pieces created specifically to enhance an outfit, or costume – hence the name. Balenciaga’s broken, scarf-like necklace, in aged-gold-look metal and diamanté, will be sold in store, as will the fabric-wrapped earrings, but the brooch was for our viewing pleasure only, having been borrowed from the company’s archives from 1964.
And while the materials that made up the jewels in that show were wildly disparate, there was one thing that united them: a boldness of scale that upgraded them from mere accessory to major statement.
Likewise Proenza Schouler sent out its girls wearing hammered-metal earrings that evoked Matisse’s paper cut-outs, in white, black, and crayon-bright primary colours. Alexander Calder was the source of inspiration at Armani, with modernist mobiles of mottled resin hanging from lobes, fairly knocking against the models’ shoulders.
Simone Rocha’s earrings were all translucent, limpid crystal and pearl – jellyfish-like blobs and seaweedy squiggles; Céline made a nod to ladylike style via fat drop earrings of baroque pearls; while Saint Laurent’s classic monogram was deconstructed, crystal-encrusted and strewn loudly across one ear.
At Gucci, the house that spearheaded the return to maximalism, more was undoubtedly more. Aside from the hats, sunglasses and oversized crystal-beaded earrings, hands were loaded up with rings on every finger, strung with chains and strapped with rainbow-hued slogans which made as much of a statement as the hero handbags they grasped.
Costume jewellery was never intended to be taken too seriously – that’s what fine jewellery is for. It’s about having fun, and the new season’s faux jewels are the epitome of that.