Every once in a while, I think about an interview the fashion critic Cathy Horyn gave where she talks about what delightful phonies fashion personalities used to be. Particularly, the larger-than-life characters of old-school New York designers like Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. “They came and they charmed and they swaggered” she said of these personalities.
When I last thought about this phoniness, it drew my mind straight to the world of costume jewellery. After writing numerous fashion captions where ‘pearls’ are really resin, and ‘gemstones’ are really glass, I was beginning to wonder what the point of it all was.
But I’ve to come to appreciate the phoney qualities of costume jewellery. There’s a really endearing undercurrent of fashion as a striving, aspirational force. What you wear becomes a performance for the world to see – and costume jewellery is maybe the most transparently and delectably artificial. A bit like a short person wearing high heels or an older person with pink hair.
And where fine and high jewellery are charged with loftier ideas like rarity and prestige, costume jewellery is lighter, frothier and concerned with surface adornment. I love that! In my opinion, glamour and artifice are pursuits worth taking seriously. It’s also, though a little overlooked in the grand scheme of fashion, a category ripe with fresh ideas. Here are a few I’ve found that have tickled my fancy.