Attachment theory: the humble safety pin joins Hermès’ hall of fame

New fine jewellery symbol
‘Chaîne D’ancre Punk’ necklace in rose gold and diamonds; ‘Chaîne D’ancre Punk’ brooch in rose gold and diamonds, prices on request; suit, £2,430, all by Hermès. Fashion: Lune Kuipers
(Image credit: Laetita Hotte)

'Efficiency, simplicity, history. The safety pin seemed a perfect symbol to turn into an Hermès object. I wanted to give it a new life,’ says Pierre Hardy, artistic director of the house’s haute bijouterie since it launched in 2010.This year, the designer has reimagined the ubiquitous domestic device as precious adornment, establishing it as Hermès’ new fine jewellery symbol. 

Beguiled by the pin’s shape – ‘the result of an absolute function, minimal technology, without any concern for aesthetic’ – Hardy was also attracted to its conflicted symbolism: ‘Firstly, childhood, motherly love, protection, “safety” pin. Secondly, and to the contrary, the provocative symbol of the punk movement – an anti-decorative tool that became the sign of rejection of society.’

The designer’s somewhat sociopolitical pin has a deliberately sensual form. ‘I tried to make it more feminine, smoothing the surface and introducing more fluidity in the lines, more tension in the drawing,’ he says. Soft tangles of diamond-set chains add a lightness that is central to Hardy’s luxurious interpretation of everyday hardware; the pieces are easy to wear stylistically and in terms of weight around the body.

The safety pin has emerged as the latest link in Hermès’ evolving ‘Chaîne d’Ancre’ symbol. Created in 1938, the anchor-link motif is a natural hook for fine jewellery design. Hardy’s punkish pieces also mirror the shimmering creativity of the early 20th century’s machine-age-inspired jewels: Van Cleef & Arpels’ ‘Cadenas’ (padlock) watch, Paul Flato’s aquamarine belt-and-buckle necklace, and Aldo Cipullo’s 1970s ‘Clou’ (nail) designs for Cartier all come to mind.

Essentially, though, Hardy’s wry take on the safety pin underlines Hermès’ dedication to creating beautiful objects that heighten the joy of everyday life.

As originally featured in the June 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*219)

Looks like safety pin but actually is earrings

Left, Pierre Hardy gives the safety pin a new lease of life for Hermès. 
 Right, ‘Chaine d’Ancre’ earrings in rose gold. 

(Image credit: Sean Thomas)


For more information, visit the Hermès website

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.