Monday, May 18, 2009

How to Wear It: Vintage Beads

I'm commited to the idea that even though the vast majority of us can't afford designer clothing of the highest rank, we can still learn from the genius of these designers and adapt their visions to suit our own means.

Here's one starting point: an orange Valentino ensemble from 1969, illustrated in Valentino: Themes and Variations.

First note how timeless the look is; it could have as easily been produced ten years ago as forty.

Now imagine how easily the look could be recreated--not necessarily with the knife-pleated silk and enamel jewelry used here (though that would be nice)--but with any monochrome dress or tunic, styled with a skein of like-colored beads.

It wouldn't matter at all if the beads were plastic, as long as they're decent plastic. You could even use a pile of identical chainlink belts, for a look more reminiscent of Paco Rabanne. The point would be to heap them on the neck, around the waist, even across the chest, to form a lovely cagework that very subtly emphasizes the body's curves. Pinning a few sparkly brooches on here and their could heighten the effect, as long as they don't jump out (see the rather modest effect of the stars and sunbursts here).

The most important point when working with masses of jewelry like this? Oddly enough, it's restraint. Not too much theme or variation in the look of the ornaments themselves. Let the volume do all the talking.

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