AC­CES­SORIES Is the brooch fi­nally mak­ing a come­back?

Is it time to re-ex­am­ine our ap­proach to the brooch?

ELLE (Canada) - - Contents - By Ju­lia Seidl

I’VE AL­WAYS BEEN en­am­oured with a wreath­like faux- di­a­mond- en­crusted brooch I in­her­ited from my grand­mother. It lives in my jew­ellery box along with my stack­able rings and del­i­cate neck­laces. But more than a decade af­ter re­ceiv­ing it, I’ve never worn it. I keep my grand­mother’s brooch be­cause it has sen­ti­men­tal value, but I can’t quite fig­ure out how to work it into my wardrobe.

Look­ing to In­sta­gram for in­spi­ra­tion is of lit­tle use. I have yet to see the brooch dom­i­nate my feed the way Os­car de la Renta-in­spired tas­sel ear­rings (the most searched jew­ellery item of 2017, ac­cord­ing to fash­ion search en­gine Lyst) or gold hoops have in the past few sea­sons. This un­pop­u­lar­ity isn’t helped by the brooch’s some­what ma­tronly rep­u­ta­tion. In our youth-ob­sessed cul­ture, it is of­ten associated with women like Queen El­iz­a­beth. Maybe if Meghan Markle started pin­ning brooches on her Givenchy dresses, I would too.

Ac­cord­ing to Sara Mag­gioni, di­rec­tor of re­tail and buy­ing for trend-fore­cast­ing firm WGSN, there has been a small brooch re­vival in re­cent sea­sons, cham­pi­oned mainly by Gucci’s Alessan­dro Michele. “A dress­ing-up-box ap­proach to styling is at the heart of Michele’s max­i­mal­ism,” she says. Ea­gle-eyed fash­ion fans may have also no­ticed a sprin­kling of brooches on the fall 2018 run­ways, like at Rok­sanda, Louis Vuit­ton and Ver­sace. But Mag­gioni thinks it would be a stretch to her­ald 2018 as the year of the brooch. State­ment ear­rings 2.0 they are not.

To­day’s ap­parel trends—un­struc­tured, off-the-shoul­der sil­hou­ettes and light fab­rics—are part of the rea­son the brooch re­mains un­touched in our jew­ellery boxes. “Women wear fewer fab­rics that would sub­stan­ti­ate the weight of a brooch,” says Frank Everett, se­nior vi­cepres­i­dent and sales di­rec­tor of the lux­ury divi­sion at Sotheby’s. By con­trast, the Vic­to­rian era was marked by high neck­lines that weren’t neck­lace-friendly, which is why the brooch rose to promi­nence, says Mag­gioni.

The brooch hit a high note dur­ing the art-deco pe­riod and again in the ’80s thanks to Princess Diana and Pretty in Pink- era Molly Ring­wald. But it was the two-piece skirt­suit that dom­i­nated the 1950s that re­ally brought the brooch back, partly as a re­ac­tion to the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate of the time, says vin­tage-jew­ellery ex­pert Ca­role Ta­nen­baum. “It was a feel­good time. The prob­lems of the Sec­ond World War were over, and housewives felt adorned when they put on a brooch.”

To­day’s cli­mate is less feel-good and more do-good, which is per­haps why the state­ment pin—the brooch’s more po­lit­i­cal cousin—has had a ma­jor resur­gence. From the CFDA’s hot-pink “Fash­ion stands with Planned Par­ent­hood” but­tons to the “Time’s Up” pins at this year’s Golden Globes, the ac­ces­sory is an easy way to de­liver a mes­sage. But the ex­perts I spoke with ar­gue that the brooch can be sub­tly, yet equally, ex­pres­sive. The In­ter­net went into over­drive this past sum­mer spec­u­lat­ing about whether Queen El­iz­a­beth em­ployed # BroochWar­fare when Don­ald Trump vis­ited the United King­dom by us­ing the jew­els on her shoul­der as a diplo­matic mid­dle fin­ger aimed at the pres­i­dent and his poli­cies. In her 2009 book, Read My Pins, former U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Madeleine Al­bright ex­plains that her brooch choices were a way to ex­press her­self on the job (like wear­ing a snake brooch af­ter the Iraqi me­dia called her an “un­par­al­leled ser­pent”). “With these women, there are no ac­ci­dents,” says Everett.

Per­haps there’s more to the brooch than meets the eye. That it can carry a pow­er­ful mes­sage is enough rea­son to pin one on, even for a skep­tic like me. ®

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