Haute hoops: a new wave of jewellers are polishing up the classic earring
Whether graphic twists or gem-studded loops, the humble hoop earring has recently undergone a fashion-forward regrouping.
On February's A/W 2015 runways, Jonathan Saunders did the loop de loop by interlacing multiple hoops, as Marni opted for tribal discs. Phoebe Philo, meanwhile, offered a more delicate approach with pearl finished drops at Céline. Flash forward to July's Paris haute couture week and the contemporary fine jewellery category was awash with precious hoops.
Historically, the earliest crescent-shaped gold hoops were worn by Sumerian women around 2500 BC; but they are perhaps most strongly associated with the fair sailor who wore the earring as a symbol that they had sailed around the world, with the combined purpose of acting as payment for a proper Christian burial if they were lost at sea and later washed up.
This season, jewellers took a less practical approach, toying with scale usually reserved for costume baubles. Completely reconfiguring the concept was Delfina Delettrez with her 'Earclipse' collection. 'Pirates used them against jinx, disco queens to follow their body movements,' she explains of the iconic style that she's redefined with a sculptural spin. 'I was inspired by the sun eclipse I saw this year,' she continues. 'I couldn't watch it directly so I made a paper instrument to observe the eclipse by its shadow. I transformed it into a lunar eclipse, by playing with the shadows of the moon, and with the concept of mirror.'
Working in white or pink gold with a sprinkling of diamonds, Delettrez has done just that: 'I always look for the destabilising effect – in this case you don't immediately see the echo effect of the double circle, and most importantly you ask yourself how the earring is hooked to the ear.' Bringing youth to the face, her mirror fastening also prevents the hoop's droopy-lobe side effect.
In London, jeweller Noor Fares similarly jewelled her symmetrical spheres with white diamond. At Hermès in Paris, Pierre Hardy took an equally graphic approach with a pair that tapped into the house's equestrian heritage through a reworked bridle for the ear.
'I have this very Parisian chic image of the hoop earring,' says Sabine G (now Getty). 'I remember seeing it on many French actresses and always on Catherine Deneuve. I know that in the US it has a totally different connotation – more like the huge hoop earring worn by [recording] artists, which is more sexy, but as I grew up in Europe to me it is the little accessory that makes a woman chic and sexy at the same time.'
The glamorous jeweller loaded up her 'Harlequin' collection with emeralds and sapphires, inspired by fashion images from the 1970s. 'Big summer hoops with coloured stones and a festive feel,' she summerises of her second collection's precious hoops. 'I think one can never go wrong with a beautiful, but reasonably sized hoop earring.'