Monday, 11 June 2012


Browsing the new season collections on Luisa via Roma, the Florence-based retailer which is known for being among the first to put next season’s clothes online to pre-order, I was particularly struck by a Givenchy nose ring, which had featured in the label’s fall/winter 2012 runway show – as well as in numerous fashion editorials since then.

I’m generally not a fan of Givenchy menswear, and I’m definitely not a fan of men’s jewellery – even more so when it is adorned with Swarovski crystals, as said nose ring is – but something about it gripped me. I even entertained thoughts of buying it, until reason prevailed (a fake nose piercing? £200? Really?) – as well as the reality that only three occasions readily present themselves for wearing such an item: attending the fashion shows this season, taking edgy self-portraits for the internet, and clubbing in Dalston.

I suppose what I like so much about it is how it is something ‘fashion’ (absurdly ‘fashion’, in fact) which is actually influenced by the unsophisticated, sub-culture world of extreme piercing. The only cop out here is that you don’t need a septum piercing to wear it: rather, it is magnetic. Nonetheless, it’s definitely an object of desire. It has a bit of tribal-by-way-of-punk influence too, for that wonderful sense of ultimately meaningless post-modern mash-up. As do Givenchy’s other ‘fake’ piercings this season:

And here's the unsavoury depths-of-the-internet version:

Subculture vs. Vogue:

One of the things I like about fashion is the way it can take some odd idea or aspect of life and twist it into something luxurious and aspirational, hopefully with added design integrity and pleasing aesthetics. (It doesn’t always work: see Givenchy’s somewhat gaudy print T-shirts with sharks and rottweilers, presumably the high-fashion take on the sort of dreadful shirt beloved of nerds that you find in discount basements). If you look at it in a detached way, this low-to-high approach is quite funny – even if designers don’t intend it to be that way. I couldn’t help seeing more parallels between what you might call “extreme body modification” and fashion. For starters, fashion is infamous for its tenacious embrace of the ultra-skinny body, itself attainable only by fairly extreme dieting and exercise, a form of body modification. You see it a lot in fashion editorials too, whether it's subversive surgery themed shoots, or the provocative use of bodybuilders or the morbidly obese as 'props'. Speaking of the extreme overweight body, remember the fashion world obsession with Beth Ditto a few years ago? And then there’s ‘zombie boy’ (Rick Genest) a real, living example of extreme body modification – and current fashion darling, and sometime muse to Nicola Formichetti:

Off the top of my head..

(not literally - voluntary amputation of body parts is apparently a thing - you couldn't make this stuff up. It's SOO fashion. No quicker way to drop a dress size than some cheeky amputation)..

Givenchy (by Alexander McQueen) SS97 haute couture vs. extreme bod mod:

Balenciaga SS07 metal leggings vs. the pinnacle of piercing:

Christopher Kane SS11 vs. terminal tats:

Lady Gaga’s ‘wacky’ prosthetic horns? They’re based on real 3D under-skin implants which people, who may or may not be suffering from body dysmorphia, have done:

Oh look, it’s Givenchy’s signature stars:

Extremes and fashion go hand in hand (extremely skinny models, extremely expensive bags, extremely high heels... you name it), so the link between body freakishness and high fashion perhaps isn’t surprising. I think unattainability is a key concept. The question is where the lines of ‘good taste’ are drawn. During my “research” of extreme body modification, I discovered that you can (and people do) get eyeball tattoos (W.T.F!) and – even less suitable for the squeamish – temporary suspension from hooks placed in the skin has an underground cult following. Concepts for Givenchy fall/winter 2013, perhaps? Or beyond even the remedial touch of Parisian couture? Should designers visit 'ModCon' conventions for inspiration? Apparently "bagel heads" are big in Japan.

Steven Klein are you reading? This could be a darling editorial:

Maybe replace the weird guy with Karlie Kloss, and the household objects with the season’s IT bags? I’ll send you my invoicing details if Vogue Italia runs with it.

Edit: he actually has a toaster hanging from his nipple. A TOASTER. I like the effort with the sheet backdrop. It adds an almost celestial edge.

Fashion's fixation with bondage and sexual perversion is no doubt a similar phenomenon.

PS. The thing I really want next season (excluding the entire Raf Simons collection) is the Yves Saint Laurent runway sweater. It has SO much Tumblr appeal. What’s that design motif? Razor blades, you say? All the better for carving a Chanel logo into your arm during a fit of angst, and subsequently getting 12,000 re-blogs.

£880 for a sweater, though. That’s a tough sell (to the logical part of my brain from the impulsive side).

Does the fact that I would even contemplate spending that on a one-season-only runway knit make me as mad as the people who get 75% skin-coverage tattoos and piercings in body parts the existence of which eludes the innocent mind?


  1. hey this is a seriously good post!!!! u're right about these fake piercings, and i agree with ur points fully.. i actually got two of the givenchy magnetic earrings, they're cool but they hurt after a while. cool thing is that u got eight ways to wear one. (front, back, ear lobe, ear dangle) but about the nosering, im still not so sure... ah well...

    oh and i wudnt wear it to dalston to club, someones gonna yank it off u lol

    BY THE WAY! what do you think about MARGIELA and H&M COLLABORATION? I'm SHOCKED!
    I wrote a post about it on my blog, pleassse tell me what you think about it--- seriously! omg...

    xx nathan.niche

  2. Good shit.

    There's such a thin line between fashion and extreme subculture, and that's the area of discourse I'm most interested in (though the two like to pretend the other doesn't REALLY exist).

  3. being extreme doesn't make you mad, it's just something you're into or think you're into. as long as it isn't destructive to society or to others then there's no harm, other than maybe to yourself, but you draw the line. i had no idea that ysl sweater was of razor blades though, i thought they were like some sound/cardio frequency monitor.

    ps sorry for the deleted comments, typo and then i realized the delete button heh

  4. there sure is some oddball stuff out there isn't there. i remember seeing a video of someone getting their eyeball tattooed, not really wanting to watch it again. i showed my gf the picture of the guy in the pins in his leg and it's safe to say they proper freaked out. she's not soft but that one threw her

  5. Just wanted to point out the link between the Givenchy rings and Indian bridal nose jewelry (nath/mookuthi). I think the references to subcultures is more evident, but the oversized jewelry reminds me a lot of tribal/ethnic dress in various parts of the world.

  6. One of the best information. Totally agree with the discussion on jewlery

  7. awesome. i do dig those nose rings though!!!!

  8. Fuking absolutely gross ! What? Your daddy didn't give you enough attention so you have to turn your self into a total freakshow ? It's fukn putrid ! Nice trend I can understand some piercings ,tattoos are chill but this is a circus side show . These people have big time issues .
    I'm embarrassed for the human race. !!!!!!!!!
    Get a Fuken life !!!!