Meandering Brooches & Off-Kilter Pins

Creativity in jewelry design is universally recognized and highly regarded, the realm of the artist. Wearing an unusual piece is a tribute to the taste and style of the wearer. But there is another, more easily achievable manner in which a mere mortal can demonstrate creativity with jewelry, and that is in how the jewelry is worn.

Lately, there has been a spate of interesting ads and editorials that demonstrate fresh placements of that sometimes overlooked star of jewelry design, the brooch. Some of the placements are clever, and others might cause you to scratch your head. Let’s see what the stylists came up with.

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The first stirrings of this trend, if you will, caught my attention in the March 2010 issue of Vogue in an article featuring trendy military-inspired looks. In the above photo, notice the very odd placement of an brooch on the breast pocket of the jumpsuit shown left, just at about the peak of the model’s breast. (The eagle brooch is by Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz.) A cluster of Lulu Frost brooches also appears on the shoulder bag worn cross-body by the model to the right, an unusual mix of high and low levels of refinement.

Vogue confirmed that its placement of brooches at the crest of the breast was no fluke in the photo below, with the lower brooch on the model’s pocket to the left almost hanging off her (fully clothed) breast like a tassel. Notice the tiny star pin added to the model’s collar to the right. (All brooches by Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz except for the vintage military pin, lower left, by Lulu Frost.)

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The April 2010 issue of Elle magazine used brooches creatively in a fashion spread adding bold accessories to power suiting in the corporate suite. In the photo below, a pair of brooches by Kenneth Jay Lane (a flower and a ladybug) at first blush, seem to be worn in traditional fashion on the lapel of a jacket. But take a closer look: The ladybug brooch appears to be off the lapel on the body of the jacket itself, and its placement, once again, is also very low, close to the crest of the breast. The model also wears a selection of stunning gold jewelry from Beladora, Camilla Dietz Bergeron, Ltd. and Robin Katz Vintage Jewels.

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The following photo from Elle shows the model wearing three brooches, one by Vintage Versace and two by R.J. Graziano, placed almost haphazardly on her cropped jacket. While the placement is asymmetrical, notice that all three brooches are symmetrical in design and all are approximately the same size, giving them a unifying feature. The model also wears heavy gold bracelets from Beladora, Louis Vuitton and Robert Lee Morris, along with gold earrings from Beladora and a gold ring from Robin Katz Vintage Jewels.

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From the same fashion spread comes this next photo, showing a model wearing a cross necklace from House of Lavande, overlapping which and pinned top and center is a brooch by R.J. Graziano. The necklace is essentially bumping into the brooch. The other jewelry with more traditional placement includes earrings from House of Lavande, bracelets from Roberto Coin and Kenneth Jay Lane, and rings from Beladora and Robin Katz Vintage Jewels.

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Another example of brooch crowding appears in the April 2010 issue of Marie Claire, in which actress Mia Wasikowska models a Chanel one-shoulder dress with Chanel brooches, one a circle, and the other a long branch, almost melding together in the styling of the jewelry.

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From an ad for Ulta Beauty, here’s a model wearing a cardigan sweater thrown over her shoulders with a butterfly brooch perched near the top edge of the sweater. It’s hard to tell exactly where that brooch is placed. It almost looks as though the sweater is several sizes too small.

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Here’s an ad for Oscar de la Renta from the April 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The brooch seems to be placed right at the model’s armpit. Somehow, I just don’t think that placement is going to catch on.

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The May 2010 issue of Lucky magazine places a pair of mismatched Cynthia Rowley brooches very far to one side and close to the arm with a ruffled-skirted dress worn with a sheer tank and a cuff by Stella & Dot.

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The May 2010 issue of Vogue also places a brooch near the armpit, with this model personifying Bohemian style. She is decked out in plenty of jewelry, including bracelets by Marni and Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz, and the bulk of the jewelry from House of Lavande. What appears to be brooches in her hair are actually painted copper hairpins from Barneys New York. The flower brooch at sleeve-edge turns out to be not a Marni pin, as the caption reads, but rather, if the credit page is to be believed, a Marni earring worn as a pin. Presumably the earring is a clip-style earring, which would explain the placement of the jewel at the edge of the sleeve.

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You’ll recall we saw a similar use of earrings as brooches on Heidi Klum’s cover look for the April 2010 cover of Marie Claire (see my blog post of April 7, “Brilliant Plumage”), but in that case, pierced earrings were apparently put through the fabric of the dress. Although clip earrings and pierced earrings can sometimes stand in for brooches, they are of course limited by the placement of reinforced areas onto which they can clip, or the existence of sturdy fabrics that will support a larger earring held by a single post. As you can see from the wide variety of styling ideas discussed here, genuine brooches provide superior versatility and extraordinary potential for creativity. And with the simple addition of a bale, a brooch can become a pendant, further expanding its style potential.