After years of being relegated to the back of the jewellery box, the brooch has made a triumphant return to become this year’s jewel du jour. From Céline to Chanel to Oscar de la Renta, this year’s runways were bespeckled with a sumptuous array of brooches. From the ridiculous to the sublime to the understated, the brooch has become the item of choice for the discerning fashionista.
The beginnings of the brooch can be traced back to when man starting wearing cloth. The first brooches were entirely functional pieces such as thorns which were used to fasten fabric. Whilst retaining their functionality brooches became increasingly more decorative with Ireland laying claim to some of the most sumptuous early designs, of which the Tara Brooch, c.700 AD constitutes the finest example.
The Tudors bore a particular penchant for sumptuously bejewelled brooches which often took the form of mythological beasts and whimsical creatures such as the slithering emerald set salamander found in London’s Cheapside Hoard.
The Georgians favoured brooches set with diamonds, the designs of which were romantic in inspiration, featuring bouquets of flowers, hearts, angels, cupids, cherubs, stars and miniature portraits of loved ones. Elaborate diamond examples were often set ‘en tremblant’, on a spring like device to imbue the piece with movement, a feature which would have proved mesmerising in candle lit settings. Others were designed as mulitfunctional items which could be worn on the bodice, in the hair, as a bracelet or even upon a belt.
Notable devotees of the brooch include Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama. The allure of a the brooch is eternal. Whether worn upon the lapel, on a collar, on a hat, a bag or even upon a pair of shoes, the brooch remains a conversation piece which draws the eye in an unparallelled way. A clasp of sumptuousness, playfulness, power, sentimentality and aesthetic pleasure. A well-placed brooch is always appropriate.