Last year, I wrote a Huffington Post story called, “Not So Fast There! The Surprisingly Long Life of Fashion Trends,” in which I observed that fashion trends don’t come and go as quickly as we think they do. In fact, trends can take seasons — or even years — to develop, and then linger for as long as a decade.
The earliest adopters of a new style often get citations from the fashion police for experimenting with looks that later dominate the market (hence my blog motto, “Never Is The Next New Thing™”). For example, in another Huff Post story, I traced the re-emergence of the peplum as a trend over the course of a year. Nicole Kidman landed on multiple worst-dressed lists when she donned a peplum one February. Emma Stone faced similar criticism for her peplum that July. Yet, by December, the peplum was everywhere. That was in 2011, and you can still go to any department store website and find dozens of peplum styles.
Similarly, multiple ear piercings with delicate studs and hoops that go through the cartilage, rather than the lobe, have been growing in popularity for a couple of years now, thanks, in part, to J. Colby Smith, a piercer at New York Adorned. Into the Gloss wrote about Smith, known as Colby, in 2011 and 2012, helping Colby become a favorite of editors and stylists. Last May, the Costume Institute exhibition on punk fashion added fuel to what Leah Chernikoff of Fashionista.com called “the delicate piercing craze New York Adorned’s J. Colby Smith as spawned within the fashion community.” Refinery 29 followed up with an August 2013 interview with Colby in which he said about piercings, “As long as it stays refined, classic, and elegant, there will always be a place for it.” (In other words, you want a lighter look than what was worn in the aughts by singer Fergie, seen here with her multiply pierced cartilage in 2008, and actress Camryn Manhein of the 1997-2004 hit show The Practice. ) Colby has even figured out a way to do an elegant septum piercing — that’s the “bull-ring”-style nose piercing — and Dana Oliver documented hers for the Huffington Post earlier this month.
Today, the New York Times Thursday Styles section has a story by Marisa Meltzer that is focused on Colby and entitled “Piercing Adopts a Delicate Balance” in the print edition. (The headline for the online version is “Piercings Are Back, Subtle and Sophisticated.”)
Meltzer talked to fashion stylist Sarah Slutsky, who says that when she got her first cartilage piercing in 2011, “I felt like we were pioneers.” But now, Meltzer writes, “If having a piercing was once an in-your-face roar, the new vogue is a whisper. Dainty piercings in areas once reserved for the bold — through the upper ear or the septum — have taken off with the fashion crowd.” Colby says, “The trick is a couple of nice subtle pieces,” and the Meltzer cites the “new aesthetic, with slim hoops and tiny studs or bars in precious gems.”
Well! I’m thrilled with all of this because I’ve been offering tiny studs to be worn mixed up, rather than in traditional matched pairs, since February 2013. I started with my “Screw U” and “Heart U” pairs for Valentine’s Day that year. (“Screw U” is more popular than “Heart U” — no surprise there!)
I now have over 80 stud earring styles in silver and 18K gold, including my famous emoji earrings and the 26 letters of the alphabet in my signature, thorny font. Additional styles are in the works, and, as of this week, you can get gold-plated versions of my existing styles exclusively at Nylon. If you want to see how good these look with the new, Colby-style piercings, all you have to do is take a gander at my right-hand woman Eryn and her sister Grace. Earlier this week, they visited Colby for tragus piercings (the tragus is the little pointy part in front of the ear canal.) Eryn and Grace recommend making an appointment in advance — like they did — if you want Colby.
Eryn admits to being a little squeamish about the process, but it was worth it. Her tiny starter tragus stud looks great with the latest version of my middle finger emoji stud earring — a limited edition, plated in rose gold, which will soon be available on my website — and a single, long Venus earring from my signature collection.
While they were taking ear pictures, Eryn took a photo of Grace wearing a gold-plated punching fist emoji earring in her existing helix (upper ear cartilage) piercing. It’s perfect for that spot!
All of my stud earrings are designed to be worn as single earrings — singles being another revived earring trend. I was obsessed with single earrings in the 1980s, and, in a fit of nostalgia, added the single studs to my line in October 2012.
I recently found this photo of Helen Slater in the 1985 movie The Legend of Billie Jean, which shows off her MAJOR single earring look. I remember being so in love with Billie Jean’s style in this movie.
Like the new piercings, the new single earrings have caught the attention of the mainstream media. Last week, Teen Vogue declared that actress Emma Watson is “the queen of the one-earring craze” (As I pointed out earlier this month, she’s also the queen of the ear-cuff craze). The same day, grown-up Vogue wondered, “How did the Single Earring Trend Get So Big?” In that story, Jamie Johns wrote, “… as I watch fashion devotees fret over whether or not to go solo with the new statement danglers, I can’t help but wonder if they know that punk men have been rocking the off-kilter look for close to 40 years.” Hmmm. If you’re as old as I am, you know that! That said, I don’t think today’s young wimmin are copying the look from boys in Brooklyn. I’d credit the Costume Institute exhibit; celebrities such Emma Watson; runway looks from the likes of Dior; Instagram stars; and their own female peers for bringing back the single earring for the ladies. And, of course, Colby the piercer gets a lot of credit, because many of those delicate piercings he’s doing are for single earrings or odd numbers. The hip dudes might be more influential in the near future though. The Vogue story notes that now that single earrings are everywhere, some guys are moving on to “what used to be the female norm of two earrings” in order to stand out. In fact, twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears — muses to Hedi Slimane, who did single earrings for Saint Laurent — have replaced their single-earring finds from thrift stores with “two large gold hoops.” Now, that’s a look that will be very noticeable on a man … and I already called giant hoops for the next big earring trend early this month.
When you get ready to make a statement with big hoops, make sure you go for 2 1/4″ in diameter or larger — anything else will look too conservative. In the meantime, if you want a single statement earring from me to supplement your emoji and screw studs, check out my 4 1/2″ long Cleopatra earring. It comes in silver …
… and 18K gold and diamonds.
I hope to have some other interesting new earring styles shortly, inspired by my own experience getting my fourth lobe piercing this spring. Amusingly, I had tweeted for piercing-parlor suggestions and was referred to Adorned by my gorgeous client Mary — who lives in Australia! That’s how far Colby’s fame has spread. But when I arrived at Adorned, it was closed for the week, and I wound up at Addiction NYC on St. Mark’s Place. I had a good experience there, so if you need an alternative to Adorned, don’t be scared by the bongs in Addiction’s front window!