GRILLZ BY KYLE RICE
Flashy mouthwear is entering its most artful era yet
STYLE IS CYCLICAL, and as the media delights in trends like the Miu Miu miniskirt or cringes at the thought of low-rise jeans, another look has quietly resaturated the music industry: the metallic mouthwear known as grillz.
Grillz, or some archaic version of them, can be dated back to the seventh century B.C., when women wrapped gold wire around their teeth. Over time these wires were replaced by permanent sets, embedded like gold nuggets among rows of pearls. In the Nineties, to find truly original and inspired pieces, you traveled to Queens, seeking out the grillz daddy himself, Eddie Plein, a Suriname immigrant who discovered the trend and became a powerhouse jeweler in the music industry. “Eddie was like the king of New York,” Lyle Lindgren, a filmmaker and writer who’s been documenting the rise of grillz since the late Eighties, told Huck magazine.
But even Plein would show some respect to the grill makers of today, who now span the globe as the digital age has brought their work to a mass market. Their designs are much more elaborate than those of their predecessors, incorporating porcelain or platinum, and are fixed with jewels like opal, topaz, and, of course, diamonds. From L.A. to London to the heart of Japan’s hip-hop scene, meet three of the most sought-after jewelers who are shaking things up and crafting pieces that boggle the mind.