Thursday, February 10, 2005

So crazy right now!

Beyonce Knowles at Marc Jacobs, New York Fashion Week 2005. (Picture from New York magazine.)

Note her bling with the charms hanging off the necklace. Now, there's been a lot of hoo-ha in the press recently about the death of bling as a hip-hop philosophy and the concomitant rise of 'post-bling'. Post-bling, the papers tell us, is epitomised by Kanye West, Jay-Z and especially by Farnsworth/Fonzworth Bentley, P. Diddy's so-called "butler" or "manservant". It consists of snappy, Anglocentric dressing and discreet consumption.

There are several problems with this theory of the 'death of bling'. First, as Beyonce shows, bling lives! Admittedly, the 1920s trend of 2004 produced many 'post-bling' moments, particularly Nelly's tailored suit look in the "Tilt Ya Head Back" video. And old-school luxury brands like Bentley, Cadillac, Hennessy, Gucci and Louis Vuitton maintain their prestige in hip-hop culture. But I would argue that bling, as a philosophy of conspicuous consumption, hasn't lost one jot of its presence in hip hop - as a way that hip-hop stars themselves like to dress; as an aesthetic displayed in songs, videos, etc; and most importantly, as something hip-hop fans, and more generally, young people, like to emulate.

This leads to the second problem with the 'death of bling': it is never going to die as long as it remains enjoyable, sexy and glamorous for the wearer. I am fascinated with the affective possibilities of bling; expect many more posts exploring how it makes you feel.

But back to Beyonce. (In an aside, it is really killing me that PCs don't have keyboard shortcuts for accents, so I am unable to add the e-acute to her name. This is also very annoying when trying to type the shiny fabric pronounced lah-may.) I am particularly interested in how high the charms are hanging from her multi-stranded necklace - totally different to the pendant effect you usually see on necklaces.

Charm-style jewellery (by that, I mean a central chain with many different objects hanging from it) has now been popular since the middle of last year - I got a necklace for my birthday in August which had beads of many different shapes, colours and sizes clustered around a silver chain. More recently, I've been noticing women wearing lots of mismatched silver objects round their necks (bells, charms, crucifixes, etc), almost like a bunch of keys on a ring. One brand to look out for is Jallen (not sure of the spelling - it could equally be Jallan or any other permutation.) This is walking out of boutique stores like Rosemin in Greville St, where necklaces like those described above retail for $200-odd.

And perhaps influenced by the 1920s trend, I've been noticing very long necklaces, either worn single-stranded or looped around the neck, that consist of lengths of chain interspersed with single pearls and/or charms. I've also seen similar earrings consisting of multiple lengths of chain with single beads on the end, bunched together like tassels. For Christmas, I made my mother a three-strand necklace of gold chain randomly interspersed with matt-finish beige pearls, gold flower-shaped beads, and gold feather-shaped charms.

Keep an eye out, fashionistas!

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