By Miranda Thompson
What has been attracting every fashion editor’s attention on the catwalks? The standout star isn’t a hot new model or must-follow influencer. Instead, all eyes have been on an old favourite – the pearl – but in a thoroughly modern, non-twinset formation.
Shrugging off their Sloane associations on the Altuzarra A/W 2017 catwalk, pearls studded chunky combat boots and trailed off hems; while over at Chanel – a brand that has long been associated with pearls – they were in evidence head to toe at recent couture shows, from delicate anklets (S/S 2017) to gobstopper earrings (A/W 2017).
Even make-up artists are getting in on the act. At the opulent Gucci Cruise 2018 collection, where nearly every model was accessorised with bauble-based headpieces or intricate hand jewellery, pearls were at the centre of many looks, from studded eyebrows to bejewelled faces. As well as inspiring a raft of Instagram imitators, the trend is also emerging as a go-to for autumn, including iridescent liquid illuminators to add a pearly sheen to your complexion and hairpins to glamorise your updo.
Away from the catwalks there is a new breed of pearly queens relishing its reinvention – no wonder natural pearl jewellery is achieving record sums at auctions. And, unlike the old guard – think Princess Diana and her multi-stranded chokers or the Duchess of Cambridge’s matching sets – they’re putting their own twist on pearls.
The new gem-eration
The classic pack
Coco Chanel. Chanel is a brand that has long been associated with pearls
Stylist Kate Foley favours a single pearl earring, Reese Witherspoon opts for a drop pair and model Kendall Jenner prefers a pearl choker. Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s fondness for pearls has been credited with sparking their resurgence, while First Daughter Ivanka Trump recently wore a pearl-trimmed dress and simple earrings. Meanwhile, Pippa Middleton ticked off the ‘something old’ for her marriage to James Matthews earlier this summer by recycling the same Robinson Pelham pearl earrings that she wore for the Royal Wedding in 2011.
So what’s the best way to wear the pearl now? ‘Jewellery-wise, we’re looking at more updated styles, including mixed with different metals such as gold or silver to make it less “pretty”,’ explains YOU’s acting fashion editor Emily Dawes. ‘I love Christian Dior’s statement studs and the structural chandeliers by Becca Hulbert for Peter Jensen included in our edit [below]. Becca is working with pearls in the most modern way – think gold-hammered – to make them less 1987 and more 2017. Now is the time to think beyond jewellery,’ adds Emily. ‘Extend pearls into accessories, such as shoes or statement clothing. Zara is your high-street hero for the new season – it has taken inspiration from the catwalks by adorning everything from jeans to shirts with imitation pearls.’
As Coco Chanel famously said, ‘Pearl is always right.’
Our pearly picks