Call me old fashioned, but one accessory I find very glamorous is the much overlooked brooch.
Especially love the ‘flamingo brooch’ of 1924 Edward VIII gave to Mrs Simpson…!
Quite often found in elderly relatives jewel boxes, brooches can create instant glamour and they don’t have to be dowdy at all!
Lately it seems these have been relegated to the back of the wardrobe or to the thrift store counter.
You can nearly always guarantee a great find at the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul shops.
Maybe I have this predilection as a by-product of my childhood.
I have very fond memories of riffling through my Aunt’s jewel case ever time we would visit.
I think this suited her and my mother well because it gave them time to gossip without my little ears tuning in!
She was always happy for me to take things out and try everything on, which I never tired of doing.
Kept me entertained for hours, in fact not much has changed in that department!
She was an earring and bead kinda gal, who loved matching sets.
While she had many jewel cases overflowing with costume jewellery, I would have to say it was really my maternal grandmother whose brooches I inherited, that probably nurtured my very real fascination with them.
Was both lucky and wonderful to wear one on my wedding day, not on my gown, but in my hair.
You see, just because a piece is designed for one thing doesn’t mean it can’t be worn in another way.
I pinned it to a hair comb wrapped in tulle to secure it, and used it in a tiara type fashion.
Then when I took my veil off at the reception, I used it to sweep my ‘do back to one side.
Loved having a piece of her with me that day, and I do know she would have been proud to see me wear it, had she still been with us.
So, fast forward to 2015 and what do I see on the runways of Italy?
Well it was a fabulous brooch that caught my eye, and not just from any designer.
How excited was I to see Prada’s 2015 Fall collection in Milan?
So excited, as Miuccia featured the brooch, and we know she is always two steps ahead of the fash pack.
So if it’s good enough for Prada…
Miuccia is never one to shy away from drama.
The pieces she sent down the runway were big and bold, but with a ladylike sensibility.
She knows just when to pull back on the craziness, and nails it every time!
Am very interested to see if our Australian designers will follow suit at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, which is on next week in Sydney.
Fashion house Marni is another label that has an amazing selection of brooches.
Italians Gianni and Consuelo Castiglione founded the brand in 1994 and Consuelo, who designs, has always had a cheeky and playful aesthetic.
Pieces from Marni are always a unique and individual pick.
Their designs, mainly manufactured using resin, are highly sort after.
Lea Stein is also brilliant as a collectable choice.
Born in France in 1931, she is often hailed as the most notable and innovative designer of plastic jewellery in the 20th century.
Creating quirky pieces, often in animal shapes such as dogs, cats and foxes, Stein’s pieces have a whimsical quality to them.
She worked with her husband, chemist Ferdinand Steinberger, to develop a technique that allowed her to insert different fabrics, colours and textures into the plastic.
Rather like bakelite or lucite, the process was to layer very thin sheets of cellulose acetate or rhodoid and laminate them to form a multi coloured sandwich of plastic.
This gives the brooch a real depth and interest.
In fact her style is so popular you will find a myriad of copies in the same vein.
After all imitation is the highest form of flattery!
Let’s not forget gorgeous examples in paste and crystal.
It was not uncommon for wealthy women to have their favourite pieces copied, so the original too expensive to leave the vault, could stay at home.
This ensured they could still enjoy wearing the design while not jeopardizing the real deal.
Fortunately I don’t have that issue, but I do have a decent collection.
I love to brighten up a classic black blazer or a favourite winter coat with a touch of bling in the form of a pin!
So next time you’re thinking of adding a statement piece of jewellery to your collection, why not choose the humble brooch.
Be different and stand out from the crowd.
You’ll be surprised at the compliments you’ll garner from this bold and unusual pick.
Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015