‘A great piece of jewelry to send a message’: how men lead the brooch renaissance | Fashion

TOn fashion shows and red carpet events this season, one accessory has been a favorite: a classic jeweled brooch worn on the lapel or across the chest. Perhaps most surprising is the way in which these designs, typically associated with grandma’s jewelry box, have been especially championed by men.

Actor Paul Mescal wore a vintage Cartier brooch to the Baftas. Actor-director Michael B. Jordan wore rare Tiffany bird brooches to the Oscars ceremony last week. Oscar winners for best actor and best supporting actor, Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan, wore diamond brooches to collect their awards, while RRR star Ram Charan sported a lapel studded with medal-like decorations.

RRR star Ram Charan wearing decorations that looked like medals. Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/Rex/Shutterstock

“Male celebrities wearing brooches on the red carpet, particularly designs that look more feminine, have a slightly transgressive feel, but they’re actually rediscovering a lost fashion,” said jewelry historian Rachel Church, author of Brooches and Badges. “Before the invention of buttons, pins and snaps were essential to hold fabric together. They were often status marks as well as useful items. However, fashion changed at the end of the 19th century, and by the end of the 20th century, most men hardly wore any jewelry.”

Now men in general, and not just celebrities, are discovering the delights of ornate accessories.

“Jewelry has risen to the fore in menswear in recent years, beginning with signet rings and simple chains, thanks in no small part to Connell at Normal peoplesays Charlie Teasdale, style director at Don magazine, referring to the hit BBC drama. “We are now in a place where it is much more acceptable for men to wear elaborate and precious jewelry every day.”

This season it seems that the brooches will grow in popularity, since they were seen in the men’s and women’s fashion shows in February. Gucci showcased pearl necklaces with diamond clasps, Louis Vuitton created tiny musical instrument pins, and Grace Wales Bonner’s menswear collection included exquisite creations of Ghanaian pearls and beads. Rihanna wore three diamond brooches when she performed at the Super Bowl in February, another sure sign that the brooch is back.

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Buyers are looking for them too. Luxury reselling platform RealReal reported that demand for pins increased 27% by the end of 2022. On TikTok, the hashtag “pin” has had more than 104 million views.

“Brooches are great jewelry to send a message,” says Church. “They are usually worn somewhere near eye level, have a painterly surface, and can be made in large sizes. They seem quite respectable, even serious, but they can be used to send a subtle signal.”

Some celebrities wear the jewelry with symbolic meaning: Ke Huy Quan wore a fan brooch on the red carpet to honor his Asian heritage, and Ram Charan’s brooches at the Oscars depicted military medals and chakras, a nod to his role as revolutionary.

Lady Hale, smiling, with a large spider brooch on her dress symbolizing wickedness and the use of cobwebs.
Lady Hale wore a web-spinning spider brooch to deliver the verdict on Boris Johnson’s decision to adjourn parliament. Cinematography: Kevin Leighton

Politicians have revived the power of the brooch recently. Historically, they wore pins to signify loyalty, the forerunner of the political badge. American politician Madeleine Albright made an art of it. Lady Hale’s spider brooch made headlines in 2019 when she chose to wear the web-spinning insect to deliver the verdict on Boris Johnson’s decision to adjourn parliament.

Political pins are also having a renaissance in the House of Representatives, with Republicans like George Santos sporting assault rifles on their lapels to show their commitment to the right to bear arms. At Joe Biden’s state of the nation address in February, politicians arrived dressed in everything from crayons and abortion pins to Ukrainian flags.

In British politics, Suella Braverman is a big fan of brooches. She this month wore a diamond tree, traditionally a symbol of life and growth, to deliver her Commons in Small Boats speech.

“It’s interesting that brooches are coming back into fashion,” says Church. “They are very accessible: they do not need to be sized, you do not have to pierce your ears and you can wear them with any type of clothing.

“I think those of us who remember our grandparents wearing brooches don’t find them attractive, but the next generation is ready to discover them.”

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