A Tribal Vibe in Fashion & Jewelry – Part One, Riotous Colors & Patterns

A tribal mentality has captured the fancy of the fashion press this season. “Tribal” is a design catchword that references cultures as disparate as those of Cuba, Mexico, Eastern Europe, Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, this trend is all about creative mixes — it appears that just about anything goes. The March 2011 issue of More puts it this way: “No more rules: Mix and mismatch a mélange of whatever colors, prints and textures please you.” How exciting to let creativity run wild!



Among the many examples of tribal style captured in the March 2011 issue of More are the following items of jewelry:  Bright striped bracelets from R.J. Graziano (stripes, of course, being a huge trend this season); what appears to be feather earrings from Olia Designs; a bright single-hued necklace from Yochi, and multi-color bangles from Rosena Sammi.



As one of its selections for the Best of Spring, the March 2011 issue of More includes this “Bohemian Rhapsody” look, recommending that readers choose caftans, tunics and peasant blouses and control the volume by cinching the waist with a belt. The above look combines a caftan and belt from Oscar de la Renta with two necklaces, one gold-plated with bows and one of wood and horn, by the same designer. The model also wears a wide 22k gold hand-woven cuff from Nancey Chapman, 18k gold earrings from Robert Lee Morris, and an 18k gold, rhodochrosite, diamond and pearl ring from Katy Briscoe. The sandals are from Salvatore Ferragamo.



The March 2011 issue of Lucky offers a sassy definition of “tribal necklaces”:  “Like one-of-a-kind (but not), handmade (but aren’t) pieces you picked up on safari (but didn’t).”  Notice the coin motif of the necklace shown on Kim Novak circa 1968 and the huge pendant-style necklace from the Proenza Schouler spring 2011 show seen at the top of the page (a trend I’ll be discussing at length in a future post). The featured necklaces are from Malandrino, Whats-in-store.com, Alexis Bitter, Dannijo, Kenneth Cole, Iosselliani, Made Her Think and Express.



An early look at the tribal trend appears in the November 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which suggests adding pizzazz to a wardrobe with “tribal overtones” consisting of ikat, tie-dyed and paisley touches, adding: “Carry the theme through to your extras: chunky beads and ethnic cuffs.” The jewelry pictured includes bright multi-color necklaces from Dannijo, huge double-link earrings from Prada, a cuff from Clara Saldarriaga for Surevolution, and a chunky ring from Lanvin.



A current ad from Lauren Ralph Lauren includes multiple beaded strands along with a striped woven sweater, all of which has a decidedly tribal vibe.



Marie Claire magazine has devoted substantial editorial content to tribal style. The April 2011 issue of Marie Claire suggests for vacation time a tribal-print dress from Autumn Adeigbo accompanied by paper beads handmade in Rwanda from Anthropologie and shoes created sustainably from Calleen Cordero.



The March 2011 issue of Marie Claire also highlights an elaborate necklace from Fenton at Kirna Zabete.



In another fashion spread, this one with a Cuban motif in the March 2011 issue, Marie Claire includes primitive-style earrings from Alexis Bittar, colorful bracelets from Jamin Puech, and an elaborate necklace from Lizzie Fortunato Jewels. 



The March 2011 issue of Marie Claire also includes an A-to-Z fashion guide in which “T is for tribal,” including a beaded necklace and assorted bangles from MaxMara. The magazine comments: “Urban Amazons prowl summer parties with wildcat bags, jungle-elegant patterns, and badass beads” and shows color in subtler hues.


My next post (Part Two of the tribal trend) discusses the somewhat less colorful but no less intriguing approach of enhancing safari-inspired fashions with accessories from the tribal trend.