Type to search

Costume change

News Women's Jewellery

Costume change


costume  jewellery 6(1)

There is an explosion of vibrant costume jewellery that is recapturing the golden era of couture, with limited editions of highly inventive and intricately crafted designs writes FUNKE OSAE-BROWN

Chinyere Okpala was in search of exquisite collection of jewellery, something simple yet sophisticated. Her taste for rare statement jewellery has led her into collecting costume jewelleries with unique designs dazzled by the genre’s new stature.

Recently, fashion jewellery has gained new standing and superiority, new respect and recognition as a vital, vibrant and creative medium. Since the early century, fashion, otherwise known as costume jewellery, has evolved in recurring climax of reputation and originality. It has been alternating between the imitative and the modern.

However, recent designs tap into its earliest traditions of couture, focusing on cleverness, exceptionality and craftsmanship. The latest designs are a collection of audacious jewels that have graced many runways and sold in small, limited, exclusive series.

For lovers of costume jewellery, it is a type that represents mature luxury, with a studio spirit and rarity value that has been largely neglected; falling between catwalk jewels made only for shows and mass-produced costume jewellery.

But some designers are seeing this genre of fashion as largely unexplored with a great potential to change the way jewellery is perceived.

Yemi Omoniyi, a jeweller, says recent designs of fashion-jewellery have been a mix of elegance and eccentricity. She explains that collectors love to go for costume jewellery they call little pieces of magic. According to her, jewellery for her clients are so personal and expressive.

“Clients want costume jewellery that has cohesive identity,” she explains, adding: “They want pieces that will stand them out at occasions. They don’t want run of the mill pieces or the kind they can see everywhere. They want pieces that will make people admire them and get curious. They want jewellery that gives them a sense of discovery.”

Omoniyi says this view underlies her collection year-in, year-out. According to her, the essence of her collections will remain unchanged as she tries to maximise the fantasy offered by fashion jewellery.

And so, Omoniyi never seeks to compromise on quality as she captures the spirit of couture, to stay in the realm of exciting design, related to contemporary or vintage culture. “I love to create fresh concepts, designs that are art-based, that are edgy, but always with the authenticity of fashion,” she states.

Some of Omoniyi’s collections are themed in such a way that they bring disparate influences together in unexpected ways. For instance, they are combinations of African, deco, punk, and a little bit of glitter. They are not too vintage, not too defined by any one period or style.

costume  jewellery 1(1)

For makers of costume jewellery, the emphasis is on craftsmanship, giving the jewels a handmade feel. There are some designs made by African craftsmen which consist of hand-carved ebony masks, mixed with antiqued brass and crystal, feathers and porcupine quills. There are some other designs that feature perfect pinks with soft silver leaf and layers of different textures, fabrics and hand-enamelled stones.

There are designs that infuse fashion with the emotion of jewels. Some of these designs are made with rare precision and mechanics. It is about taste and not preciousness. These are statement pieces made in such a way that jewels are linked with fabrics, ribbons, bows and tulle wrapped beads which make them become part of the dresses they are worn with.

Furthermore, some designs are inspired by baroque synonymous with super-high French classicism and the 1930s radical machine-age aesthetic. Some others are inspired by Versailles or mechanical things like cars, trains, machines.

Designers are skilfully marrying these opposing influences, interweaving hard and soft, using light and sparkle in an industrial style; using sumptuous crystal gems, animal prints and rigorous silhouettes, all blended with Parisian panache.

For these craftsmen and women, there is always a strong structure, even animals or butterflies are put together with screws, using new materials such as Plexiglas with crystal. For them, craftsmanship and construction are key.

Bola Adeoye, a designer, says most designers now realise that consumers are reaching for quality and a certain allure. According to her, today’s women want to be seen and noticed. They want to make sophisticated statements with their jewellery.

“These days, there is a big separation between precious and fashion jewellery. Fashion jewellery is often seen as fake. However, some clients buy both precious and fashion jewellery. They just want something really beautiful,” she explains.

Adeoye says this is creating a huge competition amongst designers who are seeking to outdo one another in the kind of unique designs they create. Adeoye says she regards couture-inspired jewellery as a way of enhancing or changing a silhouette.

For her, it is an opportunity to explore the freedom to use material and scale as she deems fit. She says she has been inspired by the jewellery of foreign designers like Christian Dior.

According to her, Dior’s pieces are like pieces of architecture fashioned by a great sculptor. “I try to balance my silhouette and volume when I am designing,” she explains. “I love to make pieces that are classics using drapery or pearls mixed with Lurex thread. At times, I use crystals like Swarovski. I just love to push boundaries with my designs.”

Furthermore, Adeoye says she offers jewellery that is unique, beautifully made and expressive. According to her, while clothes are chosen by intellect jewellery is all about emotion.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *