Jewelery that adds face value

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While understated styles of quiet luxury continue to dominate dressing, the focus has returned to the face. And some jewelry designers offer septum and lip creations to keep the audience’s gaze from wandering.

“We’re in a time when less is more when it comes to dressing,” said Meg Strachan, founder and CEO of Dorsey, which sells jewelry featuring lab-grown gemstones. “I wore a Dorsey septum cuff to preschool just to give the moms something to talk about on the text necklace. I’m considering getting it pierced.”

In December, Dorsey debuted eight styles of septal cuffs, a U-shaped design that slides up either side of the cartilage wall between the nostrils and is easily removed. With prices ranging from $120 to $185, they sold out in seven days, Ms. Strachan said.

Two additional styles were introduced in April, and she now plans to expand to pieces with holes between the septums for the upcoming fall collection.

“It can be subtle or a statement,” she said. “It can be the only piece of jewelry you wear to a black tie wedding.”

At the Spring 2023 show, Balmain models walked the catwalk wearing labret cuffs and electroplated brass face jewelry with an aged gold-plated finish. The labret jewelry, worn in the center of the lower lip, was not for sale, according to a Balmain spokeswoman, but an engraved brass septum cuff costs $195 on the house’s website.

Messika, a Paris jewelry brand that held a runway show in September 2022, paired Adidas streetwear silhouettes with its high-rise jewelry, such as the Golden Shield lip ring and Rising Soul septum rings. And during the fall 2022 runway shows, Louis Vuitton presented an androgynous tailored shirt and tie look, complemented by an oversized septum piercing.

“Lips in our society are very important; there is a femininity and sexuality that you can play with,” says Valérie Messika, founder and artistic director of her eponymous jewelry house. “There’s an atmosphere and a personality that you can assume you can’t with classic jewelry. You can have a strong, bold look and lips that sparkle.”

Ms. Messika has created a handful of unique lip pieces: The Golden Shield lip ring, for example, can be adjusted up to half an inch and hangs between the bottom lip and chin, a part of the body she said she’s “not very familiar with designing.” . The pieces move as their carriers do. Prices range from $1,000 to $28,000.

“It’s always a headache when you want to think about comfort and it’s very different when you’re dealing with the face,” said the designer, “but to be honest, to challenge myself on that part of the body is there’s more excitement.”

Drawing attention to the face makes sense given recent history, after months of mask wearing and a lack of social interaction other than through screens.

“People really want to express themselves, have fun, and feel youthful,” says Pamela Love, the creative director and founder of her New York-based brand.

Ms Love said she has noticed an increase in people wanting jewelery for their faces. “It’s been my priority lately, and I’m talking much more specifically about the nose,” she said. Ms. Love has five piercers and has expanded her jewelry offerings for the septum and labret. All of the 29 septum pieces on the brand’s website, which range from $195 to $575, are for pierced noses.

While celebrities like Florence Pugh, who has a one-of-a-kind Tiffany & Company septum ring, FKA Twigs, and Cynthia Erivo have all been photographed wearing septum jewelry, “shockingly it’s one of the most controversial things I talk about on my platforms. ”, said actor Christa Allen (of the 2023 true crime thriller “He Went That Way”).

“My septum piercing makes people very angry; it feels to me like there’s a correlation between facial piercings and people’s expectation of who you are,” she said. Ms. Allen went from a temporary cuff to a real piercing in mid-2021.

Even though “I didn’t feel at home in my face until I got it,” added the actor, who starred alongside Jennifer Garner and Amber Valletta, “there hasn’t been a single conversation with my manager that hasn’t implied that I removed or hid.

According to John A. Rush, a retired anthropology professor and author of “Spiritual Tattoo: A Cultural History of Tattooing, Piercing, Scarification, Branding, and Implants.”

More recently, they have been grudgingly embraced in the West. “Nasal septum piercings, as a symbol of power captured from the animal kingdom, were popular among Native Americans, but these practices were considered perverse by Europeans,” he wrote in an email. “Nostril rings were first introduced to the West around 1913, when French singer and actress Polaire (Émilie Marie Bouchaud) toured the United States (she was considered the world’s ugliest woman!).”

Maria Tash, a sophisticated New York-based jewelry designer who transitioned from piercing to designing full-time about 15 years ago, said, “Septum and labret piercings are literally in your face, they’re right in your face — and if they’re a bad fit, it drives me crazy and can be unattractive.

Her 57-piece septum collection ranges from $150 for a 14k gold earring, used as a septum piece, to $6,150 for a three-row pavé ring. Her own septum and labret have been pierced since the early 1990s, but, she said, she “often keeps her septum hidden,” and the inside of her labret is closed.

Ms. Tash said she has doubts about shackles versus piercings. “Pretending handcuffs isn’t great, it hurts,” she said. “It’s like a party dress, not a lifestyle. But I’m also thankful for it and happy to see it. Pretending makes more people interested in trying it, making those piercings less stigmatized and prompting them to make a different kind of statement. It’s not a big “wow” statement, but more of an “oh, jewelry can be beautiful in other parts of the body I haven’t thought of yet.”

“These piercings and the jewelry you put in them are an exciting way to express yourself, what you like and who you are,” she said.

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