Body jewelry might be this summer’s most surprising, out-there trend — not on its own, but as an accessory to your favorite lingerie-as-outerwear ensemble. After all, if you’re going to go to all that trouble to call attention to your undies, why not dress them up with a bit of bling?
A growing number of clever jewelry designers are producing chain-link pieces meant to accentuate shoulders, flatter bare backs and call attention to your bustline. You can use these to accessorize bra straps or complement bare-shouldered tops or, for the daring, as stand-alone pieces that frame your breasts. The image above, from Armor Jewelry’s breathtaking collection Eleven, only begins to hint at the possibilities when mixing metal and mesh.
Of course, mixing chain jewelry with fashion lingerie isn’t new, but it’s usually the sort of thing you’re only likely to see in fashion editorials. But that could change as body jewelry (and even chain mail) moves closer to the fashion mainstream with more wearable pieces that are equally suited to the club scene or the bedroom.
Lady Gaga got in on the act early, adding some chain pieces to her Obey My Demand leather lingerie set for the Born This Way video. And the new bridal collection from the young Israeli label La Lilouche includes a babydoll that uses a gold chain for a tie-back.
The downside to these attention-grabbing accessories? Expect wicked tan lines (or worse) if you stay out in the sun too long. And, of course, be prepared to send TSA agents into a tizzy.
Here’s a gallery of some of the most innovative work being done by jewelry and/or accessory designers. (If you know of others, let us know and we’ll update this list!)
1. Armor Jewelry, New York
Designer Sandee Shin’s new collection of avant-garde body pieces, simply called Eleven, somehow achieves soft, flowing silhouettes from gunmetal chains. The collection includes pieces that drape over hips, shoulders and breastbones — not to mention those rather frightening chain-mail knee cuffs. Altogether, a very cutting-edge assortment that is worth all the hassle you’ll get from metal detectors. Check Armor’s website for stockist boutiques such as Sucre NY and Kiki de Montparnasse.
2. Fannie Schiavoni, London
Fannie Schiavoni is doing for chain-link jewelry what Bordelle did for leather harnesses. The UK metal artist is probably best known for her couture chain mail work, including chain mail bras and dresses. But to get a sense of how problematic such pieces can be, here’s a shot of UK fashion blogger Susie Bubble layering Fannie’s crop-top over a dress. Hmmmm.
Luckily, Fannie’s recent collections also include elegant, minimalist chain-link pieces that emphasize anatomical contours without creating any sense of confinement. And her photoshoots offer some striking options for how and when to wear these pieces. Use them as a companion for, or an alternative to, your favorite bra top.
3. Electric Ibiza, Spain
Experimental bodywear designer Emma Jean Sharpe uses chains and even epaulets in some of her very creative bodysuits and bras. The attention-grabbing item below is simply called “chain shoulder piece“. Now, imagine sitting in a sunny sidewalk cafe wearing that when one of your exes walks by! Check out the rest of Emma’s work over at Electric Ibiza.
4. Seville Michelle Anastos, New York
A celebrity darling whose oversized earrings are favored by Alicia, Beyonce, Mary J. and many more, SMA is also doing great things with one-shoulder metal harnesses that incorporate leather fringe, feathers and other fabrics to create very dramatic pieces that go nicely with a bustier or corset. Her Epaulet collection can be found online at Siderack or in a number of retailers such as Barneys, so check her site for the latest info.