Runway Radiance

January 1, 2022  |  Francesca Fearon

If there is one major takeaway from the spring and summer 2022 runway collections, it’s that as clothes get shorter, more sheer, and designed to fit like a second skin, jewelry has conversely grown bigger, bolder and shinier. One need look no further than the polished-gold, surrealist body-part creations from Schiaparelli to see that jewelry is grabbing center stage.

Designers are unified in making powerful statements this season, whether it’s the return of slick ’80s glamour — as seen in Saint Laurent’s chunky earrings, shiny gold cuffs and gobstopper necklaces — or the razzle-dazzle crystal chokers, barrettes and gold necklaces that Tom Ford’s models wore with lamé tailoring and unbuttoned shirts. Everything is bigger and brighter — and of course, this being summer, there will be more bare skin on show. That means designers are adorning every exposed limb with attention-grabbing jewelry such as the season’s newcomer, the bicep cuff.

Here are three key trends that stood out during fashion month.


During the pandemic, when social interaction was reduced to the size of a computer screen, “Zoom earrings” became all the rage. The webcam-friendly accessories grew bigger and bigger in size, and they haven’t gone away with people’s release from confinement.

On the runway, earrings were still swishing around the neck in a hedonistic fashion, especially with evening wear. Tassels headlined at houses Courrèges and Patou, the silk threads and chain strands swaying with every movement. Oversized gilded signature logos dangled from earlobes at Fendi, Balenciaga, Chanel, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana. Super-large disc-shaped earrings complemented designer Jil Sander’s boxy, outsized jackets and were the key accessory in Fendi’s Antonio Lopez-inspired collection. Lopez was a 1970s illustrator and a close friend of former Fendi designer Karl Lagerfeld. The brand’s artistic director, Kim Jones, recruited family scion Delfina Delettrez-Fendi to design the house’s jewelry, and her big disc earrings were in keeping with the collection’s evocative Studio 54 style.

Big flat disc earrings are also a feature of Parisian brand Messika’s Move collection and Greek jeweler Lito’s geometrically off-kilter shapes. The latter’s Hexagon and Octagon earrings lie flat against the ear or dangle just beneath. In the tassel department, Fred Leighton has some beautiful ruby and diamond earrings. Designer Nina Runsdorf’s pieces include briolette diamonds suspended from a pair of emeralds, and seed-pearl and diamond tassels for a glamorous evening look. And Ileana Makri’s Grass Sunshine Drop earrings sparkle with gold and diamond brightness in the summer sun.


Remember those pearl chokers that Britain’s Princess Diana wore in the 1980s and ’90s? Well, as with all things Diana, this is another trend ripe for revival. Netflix’s The Crown and the recent Spencer movie have introduced the TikTok generation to the princess who died before many of them were born. Already resonating with this group is Dior’s D-Punkish pearl choker in gold finish and resin pearls, a look that Dior’s high-jewelry collection elevates into a series of regal diamond mesh pieces.

On the catwalk, chokers that sit tight and high on the neck like Diana’s pearls had a more decadent twist. Glitzy diamanté-studded ribbons made a glamorous statement at Tom Ford & Dolce & Gabbana, but looked much tougher in black leather and gilded logos at Fendace — the collaboration in which Fendi’s Jones designed Versace’s pre-fall collection — and Balmain. Gucci and Lanvin produced a high-jewelry look in faux gems, while Richard Quinn accessorized jumpsuits with a rouleau collar that sparkled with diamanté.

The black-ribbon choker with faux pearls and diamonds is a classic on the Chanel catwalk, but in its fine-jewelry collections, the choker becomes a delicate row of button-sized diamond camellias. Also sitting high and snug on the neck are Cartier’s pavé-set diamond Agrafe necklace, Messika’s diamond Desert Bloom choker, and the equally dainty marquise-diamond Atlas necklace by Anita Ko. Tiffany & Co.’s classic gold T choker echoed the logo-embellished dog collars of Balmain and Fendace.

Messika’s Move collection and Kloto’s Flow necklace present streamlined modernist interpretations, sitting just marginally lower but still above the collar line. Channeling the ’80s gobstopper chokers from the Saint Laurent runway are Sophie Buhai’s versions in mirror-polished sterling silver. An alternative interpretation appeared at Valentino and in Pomellato’s Brera design — a punchy, polished gold chain that hugs the throat.

In pearls or plain gold, chunky chokers are a style suited to boardroom tailoring; the glitzier, bejeweled designs are ideal for those unbuttoned, deep-V necklines spotted at Tom Ford. After seasons of multi-layered “neck messes,” the choker brings the collarbone back into view. As Princess Diana understood, a big choker can make a bold fashion statement.


The return of full-blown glamour brings with it gold cuffs so shiny you can see your reflection in them. And it’s not just one solitary cuff; models’ arms showed off stacks at least two or three deep. Polished yellow gold has been making a comeback over the past few years in fine jewelry, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such confident use of it on the runway. As the ’80s and ’90s influence the current generation of designers, including Olivier Rousteing at Balmain and Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent, we are seeing more audacious jewelry accessorizing sensuous new silhouettes.

The revival of Elsa Peretti’s famous Bone cuff at Tiffany & Co. has been perfectly timed. Peretti was iconic fashion designer Halston’s muse, and his evening gowns and jumpsuits have been on the mood board for many collections. While the runway’s gold cuffs are mostly gilded costume pieces, items like Chanel’s quilted gold Coco Crush bracelet and Buccellati’s rigato-engraved cuffs in gold and silver elevate this trend into high jewelry.

Almasika, Pippa Small, Carolina Bucci, Ileana Makri and Shaun Leane are just a few of the designers working this look, producing polished or textured finishes on the metal. Foundrae expands on the theme by decorating its slightly slimmer Triptych bangle with diamond symbols, while Solange Azagury-Partridge zeroes in on yellow gold bangles in her Solange brand’s new Solid collection, inspired by the famous prehistoric stone circle of Britain’s Stonehenge.

Mirror-finished sterling silver cuffs are also making an appearance on the runway at Alexander McQueen and Chanel, offering a more accessibly priced variation of the look. Georg Jensen’s Nanna Ditzel bangle and Giovanni Raspini’s big Fuego and Petra bangles fit this narrative as well.

In some collections, the gilded cuff is positioned further up the arm, reviving a craze not seen for 20 years. Described as an armlet, a bicep bracelet or a bicep cuff, this type of jewelry not only flatters a toned arm, but gives a nod to the empowering images of Egypt’s Cleopatra and the high priestesses of the classical world. Appropriately, Egyptian designer Azza Fahmy has produced versions with arabesque motifs.

Haute armbands took the form of sculpted silver at Tory Burch, colored silks at Prada, a simple gilded band with an “F” monogram at Fendi, and gladiator-style gold designs at Etro. These jewels bring pizzazz to beach and party wear, and they are bound to gain traction when summer arrives.

Image: Schiaparelli.


Runway Radiance

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