The fashion and jewellery industries are known to break boundaries. They’re constantly looking outside the box and trying new and astounding styles. In this modern day and age, jewellery has become more out of control and revolutionary. Long gone are the simple stud piercings and dainty bracelets. Today, we are seeing piercings covering the ears and sometimes the face, and the motto ‘bigger is better’ has never been more appropriate when talking about the jewellery seen at Fashion Weeks.
Jewellery isn’t just for glamour and outward appearance nowadays. There is even talk about jewellery as a form of contraception (read our blog on this here). According to Dazed Beauty:
“2019 heralds the rise of an anti-beauty movement. Beauty now presents itself as a means of transformation, a boundary-pushing form of expression which feeds a need to feel in control of our freedom.”
As we look towards this rise of transformative beauty, it seems that the subject of body modification is rising. Writing for Dazed Beauty, designer Geraldine Wharry states that the Instagram culture that we are consumed by today is increasing the need and popularity of theatrical and daring effects in clothing, jewellery and the body.
What is body modification?
Body modification is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy and physical appearance. Often done for aesthetic purposes, body modification ranges from implants, to extreme tattooing. The media mostly focuses on extreme cases of body modification, like the UK’s Most Tattooed Man and people who have altered themselves to look like animals or other humans, like lizards, parrots or Barbie dolls. Jewellery is a factor in body modification, mostly in the form of piercings. Ear stretchers are the most common type, where the wearer stretches and expands their current piercing to make it much bigger. Stretchers are also used on the nose, tongue or lip.
This year, more explorative and transformative jewellery will be emerging. Although body modification is an extreme way to alter one’s appearance, there is a way to get a similar effect using jewellery. Contact lenses, face jewellery prosthetics and even faux tattoos are reported to be on the rise in 2019. Despite the taboo subject of body modification, even celebrities are getting involved with jewellery and prosthetics that resemble it.
During New York Fashion Week in September 2018, Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Tan France were spotted wearing body-morphing accessories that appeared to be under the skin on their Instagram accounts. Kim showed off a skin-coloured light up choker, Chrissy sported a feather chest piece and Tan wore a Tudor-esque collar.
It was later revealed that the pieces were accessories designed to look like body modifications, created by fashion brand A. Human. At New York Fashion Week, A. Human presented an exhibit and art installation, where models wore skin-like jewellery pieces and embellished body morphing accessories. Founder Simon Huck referred to A. Human as the future of fashion and self expression. The exhibition presented the public with an interesting question: If you could change your body as easily as your clothing, would you?
Although Huck claimed that the brand was designed to make more of a statement and provide exhibit go-ers with fresh Instagram content, A. Human made a solid point about the fashion industry. Body piercings and prosthetics are becoming a big part of the industry, allowing people to express themselves with jewellery, without altering their appearance. Experimental artists and exhibitions like A. Human, are bringing jewellery and other aesthetics to the forefront and are redefining the idea of imperfections through body modification. Extreme tattooing and implants aren’t for everyone, but in the realms of fashion, these prosthetics and accessories allow people to explore their creative ideas, without having to do anything permanent.