Multiple piercings are not only for teenagers. Edwina Ings-Chambers reports on the rise of ear scaffolding
Have you started pimping your ears yet? If not, you’re missing a trick. These days, the more hardware you manage to fit on your ears, the better. And it’s no longer confined to the bottom lobes; from clip-on rings and cuffs to piercings all the way up and round the top of ear, A-listers and fashion girls alike are getting in on the act. Walk into the piercing and tattoo studio Cold Steel, in Camden, and you’re as likely to find a successful career woman in her forties as a 16-year-old looking to start an argument with her parents. Take the leading make-up artist Gucci Westman, 42, who recently instagrammed a shot of herself and Jennifer Aniston, 44, after a piercing session in which they both got studs in the top of their ears. So what’s behind this? Is it just all about the female midlife crisis?
“I know, you’d think that,” says Westman. “But I’d actually wanted to pierce my ear up there for a long time, and had talked to a few girls my age about it. Then I was working with Jennifer in LA and was saying that I really wanted to do it, and she said, ‘So do I!’ Chris Macmillan, her hairdresser, said he knew someone and the next thing I knew he had called this hard-core girl with piercings everywhere, and she came over and six of us got our ears pierced. We were a similar age, all of us. I did my right ear and Jennifer did her left, as she parts her hair on the other side. Then she got her hair cut that night.”
So, what was it that made them do it? “I don’t know what it is,” says Westman. “Maybe it’s just about doing something a bit new, but something where you don’t have to change too much on the exterior. It’s like a secret, because you can hide it, but you know about it — it’s cheeky and fun. It’s good to have a little edge in your ‘old age’. I want a hoop in there, but it’s still a stud at the moment while I wait for it to heal.”
Alessandra Steinherr, beauty director at Glamour and the woman Westman claims as her earspiration, has long since had multiple ear piercings, which she makes look stylish rather than renegade, even when she wears the industrial bar that crosses over the top of the ear. “I do see it as a bit naughty, because most people don’t know I have piercings as I wear my hair down,” Steinherr says. “Then when they do notice it, I like the surprised reaction. It makes me feel a bit rock’n’roll.”
Sasha Sarokin, buying manager at Net-a-porter, says: “People like to use jewellery as a styling tool, much like they use a pair of shoes or a clutch to elevate an outfit. We’re always looking to change our style subtly and ear jewellery is a simple way to do this. It’s not deliberately subversive — this season, it’s a great reference to the grunge trend, allowing you to inject a rebellious twist into everyday wear, without taking on the entire look.”
And if you do the deed, don’t feel you have to go down the route of made-for-the-task jewellery — Matchesfashion.com reports a rise in friends buying a set of earrings together and then splitting it between them.
The trick to making this look stylish rather than grungy is to use fine jewellery. It’s all about upscaling.