Colgate Couture – Chronic Classic: The Female “Tie”

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but are they? Classic, charming and utterly feminine, models at the fall 2009 runway shows in New York, Paris and Milan were doused in not diamonds, but pearls. Coveted as a symbol of class and beauty, designers such as Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Brian Reyes, Phillip Lim for 3.1 Phillip Lim, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Gar?cons and Ricardo Tisci for Givenchy transformed the traditional way of wearing pearls, reinventing this classic gem into show-stopping pieces of art. Whether draped loosely over a flesh-colored tulle shirt at Comme des Gar?cons, dangled elegantly on the ears of models at Brian Reyes or tied tightly around the neck at Moschino Cheap & Chic, pearls have made an innovative comeback that allow for a creative take on the timeless gemstone.

Seen commonly in seventeenth century paintings-“Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer and “Woman with a Pearl Necklace” by Jan Vermeer van Delft-or through women in history-Venetian royalty Caterina Sagredo Barbarigo or the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy-pearls have always stood for status. But ever since Coco Chanel declared, “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls,” the creation of this organic gem as costume jewelry has made the essence of the pearl accessible to all women. Whether round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, white, black, pink, blue, champagne, green and even purple, pearls can transform to fit every style.

The bigger, the better. Moschino Cheap & Chic accessorized a black satin sheath and nude peep-toe Mary Janes with a double strand necklace of ping-pong sized pearls in champagne. This twist on a classic outfit looked effortlessly modern in the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O. and the modern-classic icon, Michelle Obama.

Royalty always reigns. Phillip Lim went for Sergeant Pepper suits with Tudor influences. It was as if a ruffled color was lengthened, thinned and made into a necklace, with white pearls weaved into the ruffles. At Brian Reyes, it was “A Girl with a Pearl Earring” revamped. The oversized pearl drop earring looked weightless against the strong black designs.

The best way to modernize pearls? Mix it up. Last fall and this spring, designers combined pearls, leather and chains for a rock-chic style. A long strand of pearls can look elegant hung simply around the neck, doubled up or knotted in the middle. Or layer a long strand of pearls around your wrist as a bracelet.

Take cues from fashion muse Carrie Bradshaw. Carrie defined the ultimate New York fashion queen in Sex and the City: the Movie. A single strand of pearls transformed her outfits from day to night. Whether strolling around New York’s meatpacking district in a modern day Audrey Hepburn pink dress with a black studded belt or running through the snowy streets of New York on New Years Eve in a fur coat and pajama pants, Carrie always added the luminous touch of a single strand of pearls-$11,900 strand of Mikimoto Pearls to be exact. We can only wish.

For a new take on the pearl, look to New York based Wendy Nichol who created the Pearl and Mixed Chain Necklace, a combination of hand-dyed freshwater pearls and sterling silver chains tied together with light silk grosgrain ribbons. Or for a little ear candy, check out Annette Ferdinandsen’s Poppy Bud Earrings. The organic, earthy earrings reflect nature’s shapes and hidden treasure: the pearl of course. The poppy buds, caste in sterling silver, hang upside down with little gold strands, tipped with white freshwater pearls.