IN ONE EAR, OUT THE OTHER
Fashion’s sleeper trend of carefully curated piercings may have surprising wellness benefits, says DIVYA BALA
The benefits of piercings.
Ilit sage, we took our time, cleansed the room. We talked about some really powerful, spiritual things and then … ” J. Colby Smith starts.you could be forgiven for thinking that the celebrated piercer from cult parlour New York Adorned was recalling some kind of sacred ceremony. In fact, he is simply describing one of his more poignant piercing sessions with a client, an appointment that has become something of a ritual initiation of the city’s style elite.
With a client list that includes the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntingtonwhiteley and every notable fashion editor you can think of (his business increases about 40 per cent in the weeks leading up to New York fashion week), Smith has become the piercing oracle for those seeking style nirvana.
Though not all sessions are as spiritually inclined as the aforementioned, Smith suggests the appeal of the process lies in its inherent holistic nature as much as its aesthetics.“in our culture, we’re in the past and the future all the time, but we’re never in the moment,” he explains. “[Piercing] forces you to be 100 per cent present. It can be very grounding — you can learn a lot about yourself through being under that kind of pressure.” Possible remedial powers aside, there is no denying that an increasing number of designers and the style elite are adorning themselves amid this new wave of statement piercings.
Once reserved for societal fringedwellers, reaching peak punk during the ’70s and ’80s as a signifier of subversion, piercing is now enjoying a renaissance of a subtler, less explicit kind. These are precious metals; opals; a cascade of halfcarat diamonds down the ear; dots of rubies and sapphires in intricate proportion, intermingling with super-fine, layered chains — some with price tags to match that of a small car.
Championed by the likes of Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy (see: the almost aggressive nose rings and doorknocker earrings that accompanied his S/S 2012 couture, A/W 2015 and A/W 2012 menswear shows) as well as style leaders Kate Moss, FKA Twigs, Catherine Mcneil, Daria Werbowy and Rihanna, previously outré styles such as septum rings or multiple ear-piercings are now very much at the forefront of the fashion conversation.
Further talking points may be gleaned from the A/W 2016 season — labret hoops at Dion Lee, septum rings at Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma show, bellybutton
Bpiercings on proud display at DKNY and sculptural cuffs decorating ears at Alexander Mcqueen. British designer Ashley Williams’s fixation was realised through ball-closure button trims and cartoonish pierced-ear prints, and Julien Macdonald put models’ piercings on display. Off the runway, Australian model Ollie Henderson explains the rationale behind her piercings:“originally, it was an act of rebellion.as a model, you don’t have the opportunity to change your appearance, so piercing was a chance to reclaim my body without affecting my career.” For Smith, expressing personal style through piercings that blend seamlessly with one’s lifestyle is of utmost importance. “It’s expensive and semi-permanent, so I want it to make sense whether you’re at the gym or a fancy event,” he says.“it needs to be elegant enough to look good with anything.” But to those with Pinterest-found imagery of artfully curated lobes, hoping to recreate the look exactly — a word of warning: “Start small with one or two. You’ll have some ups and downs over the months of healing,” Smith says.“it develops organically.the idea starts out one way but the end result is completely different, because as humans we are always changing and evolving.” Also important to note are the potential acupunctural effects of a piercing. Sydney-based acupuncturist Rodd Sanchez explains: “When you place metal into the body, you are conducting a charge of electrical impulses. Initially, when you do get [piercings] done, you will get a rush of those endorphins and neo-transmitters in the brain.” Suggesting a consultation with an auricular specialist for those with health concerns, he notes the possible effects of certain placements. “We use filters, light and colour to seek out the points that will be most stimulated. Using different metals will get you different results — you might find that using gold will be more nourishing and clarifying while using stainless steel will be more calming and reducing, for example.” Does Smith believe the practice of piercing has curative benefits? “I don’t know if it does or if it doesn’t — but I believe in the power of the brain,” he says. “I just want the whole thing, from start to finish, to be this beautiful process. Piercings really do stay with people, so I’d just like to take that experience and take it to a whole new level. It can be healing in such a weird way.”
From top: Delfina Delettrez earring, $822, and ear cuff, $2434, from net-a-porter.com. Above left: Mociun earrings, $990, mociun.com.