Oversize Jewelry Is a Big Hit
Generation XXL: Giant adornments were all the rage on the spring-summer 2023 catwalks.
Tom Ford’s giant spangled disco-diva hoop earrings on the New York runway in September showed that amid all the Vegas glitter and shine of his evening wear, XXL jewelry can still make an impressive statement. Indeed, enormous earrings, big cuffs and chunky chains were key takeaways from the spring-summer 2023 season. Besides Tom Ford, other brands adding fuel to this sartorial fire included Balmain, Halpern, Schiaparelli, Giorgio Armani, and Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. Each designer demonstrated that when it comes to jewelry, the bigger — and shinier — the better.
Counterbalancing these conspicuous jewels was a distinctly muted color palette of black, white, cream and brown tones for understated tailoring. This pared-down elegance made for a neutral background that let the jewelry shine.
Here are three of the boldest jewelry trends from the catwalks.
One of the surprises from the spring-summer ’23 runways was the sheer quantity of black clothing. The advantage of black is that it’s a great backdrop for gold and silver jewelry, such as the dramatic cuffs from Saint Laurent, Schiaparelli and Balmain. But the strongest trend was the amount of big chain action from houses like Proenza Schouler, Dolce & Gabbana, Patou, Undercover and Moschino. Chains made a statement whether encircling necks, wrists or hips, and featured in a wide selection of jewelry lines, including Foundrae and Anne Sisteron. Some sparkled with diamonds, while others stood proudly unembellished.
Cuban and curb necklaces, notably, have been reappearing both on the runway and in designer collections. David Yurman has given the curb a literal twist in its Cable Edge line, where each link sports a spiral pattern. Layers of beefy chains create a look that crosses genders, though women often pair these short necklaces with finer gold pendant designs.
Of course, big and boxy chains are a classic for Italian brands like Pomellato, Fope, Roberto Coin and Carolina Bucci. These houses demonstrate their skill with the shapes and finishes of their links, such as Bucci’s Florentine frosted texture. Designer Lauren Rubinski taps into that Italian artisanal heritage in her eponymous brand, including innovative twists that incorporate both 14-karat yellow gold and silver.
The pearls that adorned UK royals at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral last year were a long-standing tradition, but also a reminder of how popular these miracles of nature are. UK fashion designers, whose runway shows were suspended for the day of the funeral, showed their own love for pearls — from the catwalks of Erdem and Simone Rocha to those of Emilia Wickstead and Nensi Dojaka.
Wickstead featured dainty droplets by jeweler Jessica McCormack, while Rocha and Junya Watanabe, whose shows were in Paris, toughened up their pearls by intertwining them with heavy silver chains. Rejina Pyo created little flapper-girl-style pearl lace caps, and at Dior’s autumn-winter haute couture show in July 2022, prim, girlish pearl headbands were a feature. For spring, Sophie Buhai presented long ropes of slightly misshapen black and white baroque pearls, channeling the layers of pearl ropes and pearl belts that have appeared on the Chanel runway over the years.
In fact, baroque pearls — an umbrella term for lumpy, non-spherical specimens — were one of the main catwalk trends. These happy accidents of nature are still luminous and remarkably unfussy to wear. Many designers are drawn to this variety as a contrast to the uniformity of cultured pearls, and for the accessible prices of freshwater versions (“baroque” usually refers to saltwater specimens, but freshwater goods are more readily available). Favorites on the runway included the drops and chandeliers of Erdem and the short necklaces at Rejina Pyo. Yoko London painstakingly matched impressively-sized freshwater baroques in a statement necklace, but many designers chose mismatched combinations. Patcharavipa offers chokers and earrings, wrapping each baroque pearl in cords of gold. Natasha Schweitzer similarly uses twists of gold to suspend the flatter-shaped keshi pearl drops in her earrings. Sophie Bille Brahe and Mateo offer a wide selection of designs. White/Space Jewelry carries akoya-baroque pearl necklaces and ear drops, and its Round Cloudbar earrings combine keshi and spherical pearls with diamonds.
While XXL stands for extra-large, it can also mean extra-long, like the sinuous earrings that sensuously dusted the shoulders of models at Chanel, Nensi Dojaka and Alexander McQueen. McQueen’s collection featured an asymmetric look, with a slender silver strand dangling from one ear and a smaller, chunkier element in the other. Languidly swaying with the wearer’s movement, long looks emphasize the neck and collarbone, especially with the kinds of glamorous corsets and slip dresses that dominated the runways.
The shoulder-duster style originated in the 1920s, when flappers adopted sleek column dresses. Their typically bobbed hair often ended above the jawline, leaving an expanse between the cheekbone and chest, so earrings were elongated to draw attention to the space. Of course, it doesn’t matter how long your hair is today; these slender diamond or pearl drop pendulums, typically measuring three to four inches, are swinging back into fashion.
A thread of baguette diamonds from Suzanne Kalan, who dubs these “tennis earrings,” or a set of double diamond strands from Eva Fehren — one long and one short — can create a refined minimalist look. Sophie Bille Brahe’s Grande River design also features a double strand of diamonds, though the brand markets this as a single earring. Messika offers dainty gold chains with the brand’s Move Uno diamond pendants at either end — one in the lobe and another swaying at jawline level.
Tapping into the pearl buzz are Sophie Bille Brahe’s Promenade de Perles earrings, Natasha Schweitzer’s Aqua Drop earrings with pearl drops, and the tassel styles that graced Prabal Gurung’s catwalk — one of his designs for Japanese pearl house Tasaki. Other duster variations are not only XX-long, but also XX-large. The grape-like bunches of pearls on Rejina Pyo’s catwalk and the gobstopper Tahitian-style pearl clusters at Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood looked like they might knock you out if you swung your head too fast. Oversized gilded statement earrings dropped below the shoulder line of Halpern’s colorful, ruffled evening gowns. Both Halpern and Proenza Schouler channeled a 1980s vibe with gemstone pendant earrings.
These were mainly evening looks, but there were playful day-wear designs as well, such as Tory Burch’s Alexander Calder-esque mobile earrings.
Image: Pearls on the runway at Nensi Dojaka’s SS23 show. (Nensi Dojaka)