Designers Get Earring Happy at Spring 2017 Fashion Week



The spring 2017 New York shows continued to be another fashion week in flux. There was no consensus on see-now, buy-now, with some designers (Thakoon Panichgul, Tom Ford, and Ralph Lauren among them) going all out, but plenty still sticking to the status quo. Runway spectacles were both brazen—hello, Tommy Hilfiger and his Gigi Hadid–fronted carnival of fun—and barely there, with more intimate appointments (e.g., Jonathan Saunders’ debut at Diane von Furstenberg). And on top of all this hovered the unavoidable larger issues of the election and the global crises that jolted us upright with every front page.   

All of which made the main message, by shows’ end, a welcome one: The designer antidote to all the instability and unknowns is a season of mood-elevating optimism. Marc Jacobs threw a rave, Thom Browne held a kooky pool party, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh had her models feistily smashing painted pottery on the floor—whoopee! But the runway moment that best telegraphed the spirit of the collections was Rufus Wainwright at Michael Kors, belting out Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” as models walked by in cheerful ditsy florals. (“Forget your troubles, come on, get happy,” the lyrics go.)  

JCK readers, that chorus is directed at you, too. Because along with the upbeat trends of bright bohemia, punchy colors, relaxed ease, beachy wanderlust, gingham, ruffles, and florals (so many florals!), designers sent out big, bold declarations of love for big, bold jewelry. 

SCULPTURAL HAPPENINGS

The celebrations started Day One with Ford’s celebrity-filled dinner-slash-show, rife with spot-them-from-a-mile-away bijoux: hefty wrap bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, dangling with molten-like gold plates. The look was powerful and sculptural, a sensibility that would echo throughout the collections, from Nicholas K’s demonstrative stacked cuffs and twisted, sprawling rings—done in collaboration with Lisa Linhardt—to Prabal Gurung’s jewelry debut, which featured beautifully elegant twists of silver and bud-like pendants (handmade in his native Nepal) as mismatched statement earrings. With Australian jewelry designers Sarah & Sebastian, Dion Lee presented coolly linear contoured earrings and cuffs, and Rosie Assoulin charmed with silver wire earrings in the shape of leaves and faces.

This sculptural conceit got wondrously vibrant and colorful too. The models at Altuzarra wore fabulous fusilli-like door-knockers in bright reds, blues, and yellows—a fitting complement to his sunny and sweet lineup of cherry-printed dresses and lemon-embroidered jackets. At Proenza Schouler, we saw geometric chandeliers, in reds and whites, grazing the shoulders, and at Jeremy Scott, cone-shape earrings in an ’80s color palette. 

Meanwhile, Phelan’s Amanda Phelan showcased folded origami-like earrings, in assorted hues, from jewelry designer Wing Yau—a surprise to anyone familiar with Yau’s fine jewelry line WWake, which centers on delicate bejeweled styles. The new line, Closer, taps into her background in sculpture with what Yau calls a “really brutalist” abstracted look. “Closer is all about tactility, and manipulating materials into unexpected, expressive shapes,” Yau explains. 

“I absolutely love sculptural jewelry,” says Ali Galgano, CEO of Charm & Chain. “I think these styles are a natural reaction to collections upon collections filled with crystal- and gemstone-adorned jewelry. It’s a very important category in fashion jewelry; these pieces are often considered wearable art. It’s exciting that this genre is being reintroduced to a contemporary customer.”

THE EARS HAVE IT

One word has been on repeat throughout this story: earrings. That’s because—major trend alert—lobes are the new target zone. Tapping into the season’s bohemian trend, which veered from hippie fringe, crochet, and macramé to south-of-the-border embroideries and serape stripes, designers served up impressive tasselwork (Christian Siriano, Kate Spade, Nicole Miller) as well as gypsy-esque textured gold (Oscar de la Renta, Cynthia Rowley). There were cascading chandeliers (Naeem Khan, Bibhu Mohapatra in a collaboration with Forevermark diamonds) and long drops (Ulla Johnson, Lela Rose, Jill Stuart). And hoops upon hoops galore. 

You might think that a hoop is a hoop, right? But designers came up with ever-inventive renditions. There were simple gold classics, naturally, at Alice + Olivia and Cushnie et Ochs, the latter recalling sexy Miami and Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. But Whit’s Whitney Pozgay created a hybrid with bar earrings so the hoops fell low, like a pendant; Area’s Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk’s were crafted from Lucite, some with glitter suspended inside; Jenny Packham had fringe hanging off hers; and Tibi’s Amy Smilovic’s were beautiful petal-like creations (done with Paige Novick). Most fearlessly: The Blonds stacked two silver hoops and amped up the size so much that, covering the ears, the jewels channeled a futuristic Princess Leia.

PAST PERFECT

The choker trend continues, as do pearls. But no rollover trend was as strong as florals, with the motif skewing toward tiny garden prints and energetic splices of mixed botanical patterns. Much of the jewelry followed suit, most spectacularly at Rodarte and Delpozo. The latter had plastic blooms climbing up the curve of the ear as well as breathtaking cascades tumbling down to the shoulders and beyond. And remember the dreamy jewelry, using live micro-orchids, at the Rodarte show last season? Kate and Laura Mulleavy one-upped themselves for their bee-inspired spring line with floral rings, ear cuffs, hair pieces, and connected earring “sets” (a flower cluster in one ear, multistrand dangler on the other, and draped bejeweled chain in between). 

If they made you smile, that was the point. The season was about uplift. “From a general retail perspective, there is an overall move away from minimalism and back toward playful styles,” Galgano says. “People want to introduce unique items back into their wardrobes, and jewelry has always been a go-to category to achieve this. Of course, the styles on the runways will be tempered for a larger consumer base, but I believe customers are ready to add fun jewelry back into their rotations.” 
 

A lobe story for spring: big earrings at Tibi, Altuzarra, and Delpozo 

(Tibi & Delpozo: Luca Tomolini/Indigital.TV/VogueRunway.com; Altuzarra: Yannis Vlamos/Indigital.TV/VogueRunway.com)